How to sort messages

October 11, 2006

So your friend Judy says she sent that important report to you already, but doesn’t remember exactly when and you’ve got to print it right away for the boss? You know it was an attachment on an email from Judy, but since your Inbox shows the newest emails first. This is a simple problem to solve. The solution: message sorting. The best part is, it doesn’t involve reprogramming Thunderbird and diving into the preferences or account settings.

message headers

When you’re looking at your Inbox, check out the line of boxes that are right above that most current email. The column headers tell you what you can expect to find in that column; things like Sender, Date, Subject, etc. The other thing those column headers do is allow you to sort messages by that header. You might notice that the Date column is blue instead of that silver/gray-ish color that the rest of the Thunderbird window. That tells you that the messages in that box are being sorted by Date.

To sort by a different header (like Sender in our story), click on that header. The first time you click, the messages will rearrange themselves in order A to Z by that header. Try clicking around on the different headers and notice the differences. From our story, we’d click on the Sender header, find all the messages with Judy all clumped together, then find our message with the report attachment.


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.

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.


September 8, 2006

As part of learning the interface, I’m going to explain what each button does.

Buttons Bar
Get Mail – checks the email server for new messages and sends any messages you have waiting to go out.

Write – opens a blank email.

Address Book – opens up your address book.

Reply – opens an existing email and allows you to reply to the sender.

Reply All – opens an existing email and allows to you reply to the sender and all the other recipients.

Forward – opens an existing email and allows you to send it to someone else.

Delete – throws an existing email away.

File – allows you to move an email to another folder.

Junk – labels a message as “junk mail”. If your Junk Mail Controls are setup, it will also move the “junk” message to the Junk folder.

Print – allows you to print an email.

Stop – stops Thunderbird from contacting a server.

Basic Layout of the Interface

September 5, 2006

Check out the pic below. You can see there are 3 major areas to the interface, not including the toolbar, of course. Those areas are the Folders pane, the Message pane, and the Message Preview pane. This basic layout is the same for PC’s or Macs.

Interface with boxes

Folders: The Folders section is very similar to most email programs (Outlook, Eudora, Mail, Quickmail, etc). You can make folders to store your emails, or just stick with what’s provided. You can get as organized as you want.

Inbox – This is where all your new emails come in. You can add folders to the Inbox for sorting emails you want to save, but not keep in the main Inbox.

Unsent – This is where messages go that have not been sent, but you’ve already told them to be sent. It would be rare that you would have many (if any at all) messages here.

Drafts – Any messages you have saved, but not sent, will be in this folder. This is good if you want to reply to a message, but don’t want to send it yet.

Sent – This is where you will find all the messages you have sent to other people.

Junk – This folder contains any messages you have labeled as “Junk”. This will be the place to look if someone says they sent a message, but you never saw it in your Inbox.

Trash – When you delete a message, this is where it goes. If you didn’t mean to delete a message, you can drag out of here and back into your Inbox.

Messages: The Messages section is just a list of your messages. Unread messages will show up in a bolded font; messages in regular type have been read already.

Message Preview: The Message Preview section allows you read your emails without having to open a separate window to see them. If you click on a message in the Messages section, it will load in the Message Preview section.