Preferences Interface

September 25, 2006


This is the menu for the Preferences for Thunderbird.  To get here, go to (Mac) Thunderbird > Preferences or (Windows) Tools > Options.

The General tab contains preferences regarding what Thunderbird does when it starts up, new mail notification, and how it connects to the internet.  Check the tutorial regarding this preference tab for more specifics.

The Display tab has three sub tabs; all regarding the appearance of Thunderbird (colors, fonts, etc).  Check the tutorial regarding this preference tab for more specifics.

The Composition tab also has three sub-tabs; all regarding writing messages, like spell check, addresses, HTML options, & Auto-Save.  Check the tutorial regarding this preference tab for more specifics.

The Privacy tab has 5 sub-tabs and all of these have to do with security.  You have options for Anit-virus, Password storage, encryption, script blocking, scam filtering, & certificates.  Check the tutorial regarding this preference tab for more specifics.

The Attachments tab allows you to tell Thunderbird where to automatically save all attachments and what programs open which types of files.  Check the tutorial regarding this preference tab for more specifics.

The Advanced tab has kind of a hodge-podge of other preferences that don’t really fit into the other categories.  You can tell Thunderbird how to check for updates, how long to wait until marking a message as “Read”, offline options, or even get in and manually configure options for Thunderbird.  Check the tutorial regarding this preference tab for more specifics.


When new messages arrive…

September 25, 2006

When new mail arrives, you can Thunderbird do several things to let you know. First, is to show an alert. The second is the animate the dock icon. The third is to play a certain sound. However, to set up one of these options, you must go to the program preferences: (Mac) Thunderbird > Preferences, (Windows) Tools > Options.

On the General tab, you can setup your new messages alerts under the heading “When New Messages Arrive…”. Here is what each options does:

Show an Alert – a message that says, “You have new messages”. It will force you to click OK for the notification to go away.
Animate the dock icon – this bounces the dock icon (on the Mac) until you click on the program. This option can be pretty annoying, but like the Show Alert, it can be good if you need to know right away when new messages arrive.

Play a sound – this does just that; it plays a sound. You can have it play any system sound you want, or you can have it play any .wav you have on your hard drive. To set this up, follow this tutorial.

How to import an address book from a file

September 25, 2006
  1. With Thunderbird open, click the Address Book button to open your address book.
  2. Go to Tools > Import.
  3. Choose Address Books and click the Next button.
  4. Select Text File (LDIF, .tab, .csv, .txt) and click the Next button
  5. Select the file of the address book you want to import and click Open. Thunderbird will import the file automatically.
  6. Click Finish. You should see the new address book you just imported in the list.

How to remove contacts from a list

September 25, 2006

If you want to remove someone from a list, click on that list, click on the person’s name you want to delete, and hit the Delete button at the top. This will remove them from the list…it will not delete from the address book.

How to add a new contact

September 25, 2006

If you need to add a new person to an address book, start by making sure you are in the correct address book. Then click the New Card button. This will create a new card in the address book you have highlighted and brings up a form for you to fill out. There is a drop down menu at the top of this form that allows you to change which address book this contact will go into, in case you selected the wrong address book. This form allows you to put in their name, address, any phone numbers you have, two email addresses, as well as their birthday, spouse’s name, and much more. When filling out the name form, be sure to separate the first and last name. It will automatically fill out the Display field if you keep them separate. When you are finished, hit the ok button and that contact should be in the address book.


How to make a list (or group)

September 25, 2006

Creating a new list and adding users to that list is very simple. Just follow these steps:

  1. New ListOpen Thunderbird
  2. Click on the Address Book button
  3. Select the address book where you want to create your list
  4. Click the New List button. Very important: lists are created in the address book you have selected. Be sure you select the correct address book for the list. This brings up a form.
  5. Give the list a name
  6. Hit the OK button. This will take you back to the address book

To add people to this list:

  1. Click on the address book where you just made the new list
  2. Find the user(s) you want to add to the list
  3. Click and drag the names to the list. Make sure before you let go that the name of the list highlights (that tells you are adding him to that list).
  4. Repeat this process for each person you want in that list.

You can double-check your work by clicking on the name of the list. This will show all the people that are in that list. Click back on the address book to continue adding people.

Lists vs. Address Books

September 25, 2006

There are big differences between a new address book and a list/group. Think of these as you would a phone book: there’s the Yellow Pages with the business listings and the White Pages with the individual listings. If someone was listed in both books, it would be rather confusing – is that the same person, which phone number would allow me to speak to that person, etc, etc. Try not to duplicate the same email addresses in multiple address books. Thunderbird will be confused and so will you….and then you’ll tech support…and none of us want that, or at least I ‘m sure they don’t.
An address book is basically a collection of contacts that are usually related in some way. For instance, the “Church” address book will probably have everyone from your church and the “Family” address book will have your family members.

A list is simply a collection of addresses within that address book that allows you to email a bunch of people at once, without having to add each person’s email address separately. For instance, if you wanted to email all your uncles, you would set up a list named “Uncles” inside the “Family” address book. It wouldn’t make sense to create the “Uncles” list inside the “Church” address book would it? Ok…maybe in some cases it would, but let’s just pretend it wouldn’t! I’ll write a follow-up article on Making a List with a step-by-step tutorial on creating a list and adding people to it.

Address Book Layout

September 25, 2006

The address book is accessible by the Address Book button on the main layout.addressbook

Across the top you have buttons just like the message browser:

New Card – This button pulls up a blank contact form. If you have a new person you want to add to your address book, this is the button you want. Pay close attention to which address book you have highlighted because it will add the new contact to that book. We’ll talk more about this later.

New List – This will make a group email list inside your address book. This is helpful if, for instance, you want to write all the people in your bible study group on a daily basis. Instead of adding each person’s email address to a blank email everyday, you can make a list with those people in it, then just write to that group and the message will go to everyone.

Properties – This button opens the information for an existing contact. If you need to change a contact’s name, email address, etc, this is the button for you.
Write – This button will bring up a new, blank message to the person/group you have highlighted.
Delete – This button deletes the selected contact, group, or address book.

How to Write a New Message

September 25, 2006

When you hit the Write button, it will open a blank email to no one and in the To: field, you can type in an email address. If you’re sending to someone already in your address book, begin typing their name and the name/address should automatically fill in. This works the same for groups also. If you’re not sure about a name or address, you can hit the Contacts button and it will bring up a sidebar with your contacts to choose from.Newmessage

If you want to CC: additional people, you can change the To: field to a CC:, BCC:, Reply-To:, Newsgroup:, or Followup-To:.

If you need to attach a document to the email, hit the Attach button, it will open a Finder/Explorer window and you can find your document and attach it.

If you decide not to send the email when you finish typing it, you can hit the Save button and the email will be saved in the Drafts folder for you to send later.

How to get a sound alert for new messages

September 14, 2006

So you want a sound to play when you get a new message? Start by going to Thunderbird > Preferences (or on Windows – Tools > Options).

On the general tab, towards the bottom, there’s a section that talks about “When new messages arrive; check the option that says “Play a sound”.

Of course, you’ll want to specify which sound you want to play, so you’ll need to hit that “Advanced” button also. This will take you to the Advanced Sound Options screen.


Here, you can either:

a) have it play a system sound (which depends on what type of operating system you’re running, Windows or Mac)


b) have it play a custom sound.

If you want to pick a custom sound, click the “Custom .wav file” radio button and then click the “Browse” button. This will allow to poke through your hard drive to find the file. Keep in mind, the file has to be a .wav file though, no MP3’s. You can change the file type inside iTunes, but that’s another tutorial!

Once you’ve found the sound you want, click on it and click the “Open” button. The name of the file will appear in that text box under “Custom .wav File”. You can preview the sound, if you wish, by hitting the “Preview Sound” button. That should play the sound that will play when you receive a new message.

Interface with boxes

Additional thoughts:

Unfortunately, Thunderbird on the Mac has a minor bug that doesn’t allow it to control what sound it played when new messages arrive. So, the way to get around this is to setup the same sound in Apple’s Mail program, then set it up in Thunderbird too. Here’s the instructions for that:

Open Mail (Hard Drive > Applications > Mail), and go to the preferences (Mail > Preferences). As you can see by the pic to the left, the third drop menu from the top allows you to pick a sound. Click on that drop menu and then pick “New Mail Sound”. This will open a Finder window and allow you to pick a sound file, again only .wav files. Find it and hit the “Open” button. The file will show up in this “New Mail Sound” list and you can choose it here.

Once you’ve set that sound in Mail, go back to Thunderbird and change the sound, just like above.