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Sending and Receiving Messages on Thunderbird

The Basics

As soon as you’ve set up an email account, you’re ready to start sending and receiving messages in Thunderbird. Here’s how to do it.

Sending a new message

  1. In the Thunderbird toolbar, click the Write button. The Write window opens.

    write button edit
  2. In the To box, type the email address you want to send the message to.

    to field edit
    Tip: Thunderbird automatically saves email addresses in your address book that you've previously sent messages to. After that, Thunderbird autocompletes known addresses as you type them. Just press Tab as soon as the right address appears – the address will be entered and you’ll be on to the next step already.
  3. In the Subject box, type the subject of your message.

    subject field edit
  4. Type your message in the message pane.

    message pane edit
    Tip: If HTML-formatting of composed text is allowed in account settings, you can customize the appearance of your message with Thunderbird’s word-processing functions in the Formatting Bar above the message pane. Smileys included! smiley number 3
  5. Click the Send button.

    send edit
Note: Thunderbird saves copies of all your sent messages in a Sent folder.

Receiving messages

By default, Thunderbird checks for new messages every time you open the application. It will also automatically check again every 10 minutes, while the application is running. This behavior for both actions can be customized (see below.)

To check for messages at any other time, click the Get MessagesGet Mail button in the toolbar.

get mail edit

Customizing how messages are sent and received

Get Thunderbird flying the way you want it! Many settings can easily be customized.

Automatically checking for new messages

Set how often you want Thunderbird to automatically check for messages:

  1. In the Thunderbird menu bar, click the ToolsEdit menu and click Account SettingsAccount Settings…, or click the Application menu button New Fx Menu and select OptionsPreferences and Account Settings from the sub-menu.
  2. On the accounts pane, click Server Settings beneath your account.
  3. Choose the time interval for checking in Check for new messages every setting. If you don't want Thunderbird to check automatically, uncheck this setting.
  4. To enable or disable automatically checking for new messages at startup, check or uncheck Check for new messages at startup.
  5. Click the OK button to close the Account Settings window and to save your settings.

Auto-saving

When you’re writing a new message, your work is auto-saved every five minutes, but you can make it more often, or less:

  1. In the Thunderbird menu bar, click the ToolsEdit menu and click OptionsOptions…Preferences, or click the Application menu button New Fx Menu and select OptionsPreferences and OptionsPreferences from the sub-menu.
  2. Click the Composition panel.
  3. Click the General tab.
  4. Choose the time interval for auto-save in the Auto Save every setting. If you don't want Thunderbird to save automatically, uncheck this setting.
  5. Click the OK button to close the OptionsPreferences window and to save your settings.

Sound alert for new messages

Choose your own sound alert for new messages:

  1. In the Thunderbird menu bar, click the ToolsEdit menu and click OptionsOptions…Preferences, or click the Application menu button New Fx Menu and select OptionsPreferences and OptionsPreferences from the sub-menu.
  2. Click the General panel.
  3. Click the Use the following sound file option.
  4. Click the Browse… button.
  5. Choose your sound file and click the Open button.
  6. You can preview the soundfile by clicking the Play button.
  7. Click the OK button to close the OptionsPreferences window and to save your settings.

Marking messages as read

Thunderbird displays unread messages in bold type, marking a message read and in normal type as soon as you click on the message. If you don't like this behavior, you can change the time interval before Thunderbird marks messages as read:

  1. In the Thunderbird menu bar, click the ToolsEdit menu and click OptionsOptions…Preferences, or click the Application menu button New Fx Menu and select OptionsPreferences and OptionsPreferences from the sub-menu.
  2. Click the AdvancedDisplay panel.
  3. Click the Reading & DisplayAdvanced tab.
  4. Click the After displaying for option and set how long Thunderbird should delay before marking a message as read.
  5. Click the OK button to close the OptionsPreferences window and to save your settings.

Advanced

Configuring email accounts

When Thunderbird downloads messages, it uses the configuration on the Server Settings page of each email account. Each email address corresponds to one incoming mail server (either POP or IMAP). To change your accounts server settings:

  1. In the Thunderbird menu bar, click the ToolsEdit menu and click Account SettingsAccount Settings…, or click the Application menu button New Fx Menu and select OptionsPreferences and Account Settings from the sub-menu.
  2. On the accounts pane, click Server Settings beneath your account.

Thunderbird sends messages to the SMTP server that is assigned to the selected email account:

  1. In the Thunderbird menu bar, click the ToolsEdit menu and click Account SettingsAccount Settings…, or click the Application menu button New Fx Menu and select OptionsPreferences and Account Settings from the sub-menu.
  2. On the accounts pane, scroll down the account list. The last item is the Outgoing Server (SMTP). Click this item.
  3. Select a server from the list and click the Edit… button.
  4. Make your changes in the SMTP Server window, and click OK to save your changes and to close the window.

Next, the Outgoing SMTP server is assigned to each account:

  1. Click the account and select the desired server from the Outgoing Server (SMTP) drop-down list.
  2. Save your settings by clicking the OK button.

Each email account is listed in the "All Folders" panel on the left side of the Thunderbird interface:

9ac89e4e63de0f3df6d6b04fbadacc04-1263406274-926-1.jpg

For information about manually configuring email accounts, see Manual Account Configuration. For information about automatically configuring new email accounts, see Automatic Account Configuration.

Downloading incoming messages

By default, Thunderbird will check your mail server(s) for new messages on application startup and then automatically as described earlier in this article. In addition to that, you can check for new messages manually at any time using several methods described below.

To get new messages for the currently selected account:

  • From the Application menu button:
    • Click the Application menu button New Fx Menu .
    • Select File, then Get New Messages for and Current Account from the sub-menu.
  • Click the Get MessagesGet Mail button in the top left corner of Thunderbird's main window.
  • Use the keyboard shortcut.
  • Right-click the account in the folder pane and select Get Messages.
  • From the menu bar:
    • Click the File menu.
    • Select Get New Messages for and click Current Account from the sub-menu (where "Current Account" is the account highlighted in the folder pane).

To get new messages for all accounts:

  • From the Application menu button:
    • Click the Application menu button New Fx Menu .
    • Select File, then Get New Messages for and All Accounts from the sub-menu.
  • In the Thunderbird toolbar, click the drop-down arrow of the Get Messages ⇓Get Mail ⇓ button, and then select Get All New Messages.
  • Use the keyboard shortcut.
  • From the menu bar:
    • Click the File menu.
    • Choose Get New Messages for and click All Accounts from the sub-menu.

Composing a new message

To compose a new message:

  • From the Application menu button:
    • Click the Application menu button New Fx Menu .
    • Select New Message and Message from the sub-menu.
  • Click the Write button in the Thunderbird toolbar.
  • In the Thunderbird menu bar, click the Message menu and select New Message.
  • Use the keyboard shortcut.

If an email (or newsgroup) account is highlighted in the All Folders panel, the message's From address will default to the selected account. If no account is specified, the From address will default to the first account configured in the Account Settings. Click the From drop-down list to select a different account.

Specify one message recipient per line. Click the arrow in the field to the left of the recipient name to specify the type of recipient (for example, "To", "CC", etc).

To insert addresses from your address book, enter some of the characters from the person's name in the To field. A drop-down list will show all address book entries where the first or last name starts with the character(s) you entered, or entries where the string you entered exists. For example, if you enter "se", anyone in the address book with the last name of "Serrano", or "Casey" or the first name of "Sean", or "Jesse" would be displayed in the drop-down list.

You can also drag and drop addresses from your address book to a new message. Simply open the address book, select the desired entry and drag it to the recipient area of the new message.

Replying to a message

To reply to a message:

  • From the Application menu button:
    • Click the Application menu button New Fx Menu .
    • Select Message and then Reply or Reply All when the message is displayed.
  • Click the Reply or Reply All button in the Thunderbird toolbar when the message is displayed.
  • Right-click the message in the Message List and select Reply to Sender Only (CtrlCommand + R), Reply to All (CtrlCommand + Shift + R) or Reply to List (CtrlCommand + Shift + L).

See Also

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Version History
Revision #:
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Comments

(For the record)

/forums/knowledge-base-articles/710718 Sending and Receiving Messages *MERGED* & Sending and Receiving Emails

Joni said (on October 2, 2014)

Hi Giampiero, I think we should keep the first article and redirect the other one to it. I've renamed the *merged* article and redirected the second one. Thanks for pointing this out. Joni
gpiero61

Hello,

below you will find the source of the paragraph quoted in the title.

Replying to a message

To reply to a message:

  • From the Application menu button:
    • Click the Application menu button New Fx Menu .
    • Select {menu Message} and then {menu Reply} or {button Reply All} when the message is displayed.
  • Click the {button Reply} or {button Reply All} button when the message is displayed.


Please help me to clarify the row marked in bold.

Following those instructions, after

    • Select {menu Message} and then {menu Reply}

you can't find any {button Reply All} but only the {menu Reply All} and both of them are sub-menu of the menu {menu Message}.

Obviously, what is displayed is quite different is Message Preview is disabled.

I think that "button Reply All" should become "menu Reply All".

Looking forward your feedback.

Giampiero

gpiero61

gpiero said

Hello, below you will find the source of the paragraph quoted in the title.

Replying to a message

To reply to a message:

  • From the Application menu button:
    • Click the Application menu button New Fx Menu .
    • Select {menu Message} and then {menu Reply} or {button Reply All} when the message is displayed.
  • Click the {button Reply} or {button Reply All} button when the message is displayed.


Please help me to clarify the row marked in bold.

Following those instructions, after

    • Select {menu Message} and then {menu Reply}

you can't find any {button Reply All} but only the {menu Reply All} and both of them are sub-menu of the menu {menu Message}.

Obviously, what is displayed is quite different is Message Preview is disabled.

I think that "button Reply All" should become "menu Reply All".

Looking forward your feedback.

Giampiero

sorry ... typing mistake

Obviously, what is displayed is quite different if Message Preview is disabled.

Ctrl + Shift + L don't seem to do anything in Thunderbird 31.3.0 on Window 7.

Works for me to reply to list when a mail comes from a list.

I properly dont know what "a list" is then.

But lets say i right-click. Then i have the option to answer the list. But the keyboard shortcut does not do the same.

The issue appears to be the right click is not disabled appropriately that is it is available and replies on all mail, not just list mail. The reply is just that, a reply, not even a reply all.

Ok so what is a list so i can test it ?

a list is managed by a listserv http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LISTSERV

Mozilla has loads of mailing lists. Have a look here https://lists.mozilla.org/listinfo

gpiero61

Hello, If I understood well, when I get a messagge in my inbox from a mail list managed by the server, the option Reply to List from Application menu should be available.

Well, it is not available.

Hi Giampiero,

First of all, sorry for the late response.

I’m not sure what you meant by the message preview part at the end, but the button markup should indeed be a menu markup for the submenu item. I included this in revision 110406. Thanks for mentioning it. ;)

Current behavior here shows the shortcut and the function are working fine and for a mailing list message only (like they should), but the Reply to List context menu / right-click item is just not grayed out for other messages. Using Reply to List via the Message menu or menu button, all is OK.

Can anyone verify, and would it need a bug?