Thunderbird can be configured to work seamlessly with Google's Gmail service. Messages are synchronized between your local version of Thunderbird and the web-based Gmail.
To configure Thunderbird to work with Gmail, first enable IMAP on your Gmail account. See Gmail's instructions for help. (IMAP is enabled on new Gmail accounts by default.)
Double check that "Access for less secure apps" is enabled. See Google's article on "less secure apps" for help.
Next, select File > New > Existing Mail Account.... The "Mail Account Setup" dialog is displayed. After you provide your account information (real name, email address and password), Thunderbird will automatically configure your Gmail connection. Click Done, sign in with your Google account if prompted and that's all! Thunderbird will download your existing messages and your Gmail will be ready to use.
For more detailed information, please refer to:
In order to be consistent with Gmail's behavior, Thunderbird archives your message in the "All Mail" folder, and not in an "Archive" folder as it does for other accounts (as described in the Archived Messages article).
Note that the Archive options... button is disabled for Gmail accounts, as it is not necessary to define the archive granularity with Gmail.
Gmail uses a special implementation of IMAP. In this implementation, Gmail labels become Thunderbird folders. When you apply a label to a message in Gmail, Thunderbird creates a folder with the same name as the label and stores the message in that folder. Similarly, if you move a message to a folder in Thunderbird, Gmail will create a label with the folder name and assign it to the message.
In the example shown below, the folders at the same level as the "[Gmail]" folder ("g+", "Personal", "Receipts", "Travel" and "Work") correspond to Gmail labels.
There is also a set of special sub-folders for the "[Gmail]" folder:
Note that a message can have multiple labels (for instance, "Personal", "Travel", "All Mail" and "Starred"). In this case, a single copy of this message will be downloaded, but it will be displayed in all the corresponding Thunderbird folders.
You can configure which Gmail folders you want to display in Thunderbird. By default all Gmail folders are displayed, as described above. To configure folder display, right-click any folder and select Subscribe.
Uncheck any folders that you don't want to display in Thunderbird. Messages will still be downloaded and available through the "All Mail" folder. They will also be included in search results. However, the Gmail label (Thunderbird folder) will not be displayed.
If you want to see all your Gmail labels and messages in Thunderbird but prefer to avoid all the messages being downloaded to your system, you may want to tweak the synchronization settings. This allows you to define which folder should be synchronized. If you don't synchronize a folder, the message header will still be displayed in Thunderbird, but the message content will only be downloaded when you click on the message header.
To change how messages are downloaded, set synchronization options for the account and for individual folders. (Tools > Account Settings...Edit > Account Settings...) See IMAP Synchronization for more information.
When you are using a mail client (such as Thunderbird, Outlook, Entourage, etc.) with a Gmail account and your account is configured to synchronize mail using the IMAP protocol, you cannot see BCC message recipients when you look at the message in the "Sent Mail" folder. (See Manual Account Configuration for a description of the IMAP and POP protocols.)
For example, say that you sent a message with the following recipients:
If you subsequently viewed the message in the "Sent Mail" folder, only the "To" and "CC" addresses would be shown as message recipients. This is because Gmail strips the BCC recipient(s) from messages. The message is sent to the BCC recipient, but the BCC recipient is not displayed in the saved sent message. (The BCC recipient is also not displayed on Gmail's web-based interface if the message originated in Thunderbird.)
To work around this problem, use the Gmail web interface to send messages when you need to include a BCC recipient. Alternatively, use an SMTP server other than Gmail's. For example, your Internet Service Provider (ISP) probably provides access to an SMTP server, which you could use to send messages. (See Manual Account Configuration for help.)