I have started to use Thunderbird as my mail client. Again. Long back in time I used Netscape Mail. I do not know how much code they share, but Thunderbird is an evolution from Netscape Mail (like Firefox is from the Netscape browser). I have also used Thunderbird itself. Last years I have used Apple macOS own mail client. It has worked well. But I have also for a long time wanted to come back to Thunderbird - because I like it, because it is free and open source and because it is available for Linux.

Thunderbird is familiar although it of course has evolved since I used it last time. It is also more than an e-mail client. More on that below where I give a comment for each section of Thunderbird.

Thunderbird has a lot of opportunities for configuration and customizations. It also has many extensions available, still for me to explore. The only extensions I have added so far are language support.

Some remarks from my migration and first period of usage follows below. The remarks should be seen as a help for migration. They are absoutely not a reason for not using Thunderbird.


It is a big advantage to have access to webmail to make sure everything is correct in Thunderbird. I had a few issues:

  • Phantom folders. They are folders that do not really exist. Shown in italic, no content. I recognize the folder names so it has been real folders that have been deleted or moved. At least one of them has same name as one of the missing folders below. The phantom folders are not shown in the webmail, nor in macOS mail. The phenomena is known in forums etc, eg this link: Folders grey and italics. Some sub-folders not showing. I have not yet tried to get rid of them, they do not do any harm, only annoying.
  • Missing folders in sub and sub-sub folder structure. Folders with e-mails that exist does not show up. This issue is strange and more problematic because if you do not notice it, you may not look for how to find them. The solution is simple when I find it: I open a menu with subscribed folders, and find a few that are not subscribed. Indeed strange that a few folders were not subscribed automatically when 98% are subscribed automatically. One has same name as one phantom folder. Missing folder works after marked them to be subscribed.
  • Junk folders required a bit of job to connect correctly. To be fair, it was somewhat of a mess on server after earlier configurations and misconfigurations; it was not fully correct on macOS mail. I also changed settings so Thunderbird should look for new items in those folders at the same time it check for new items in the inboxes. After a little work, I have gotten junk to work correctly.

Address book

I exported my Apple macOS Address book in .vcf file format. It generally worked well import to Thunderbird with some remarks:

  • For some contact cards I have web addresses included which did not show up. When going to edit mode, they exist but marked in red. I think it was the protocol that was missing (https...), after editing they are ok.
  • I had added a customized label for Mobile work in my Apple macOS Address book. This customized label did not come through, it was presented without label. Thunderbird does not have, at least I have not found in normal configurations any way to customize labels. I think it is valuable to be able to distinguish mobile numbers if they are related to home or work.
  • For some items which have both company and person name, I needed to adjust so they are sorted correctly.

To consider: Now when I use Thunderbird I have one address book for e-mail and another one for my mobile phone and more. I will ponder if I want to sync Thunderbird e-mail address book with eg mobile address book and between devices in general. If yes, still to be decided on solution - maybe I will use my Nextcloud.

RSS subscriptions

It is very easy to add my RSS subscriptions to Thunderbird. It is very naturally to have the RSS feeds in the same client as e-mails. Until now I have used QuiteRSS. I believe Thunderbird is better for me. For me it is fine not to sync RSS with other devices, if that is desirable probably something else is better to use.


This function is still to be investigated, primarily for my Matrix account. Currently I use element.

Calendar and To-Do

Not yet investigated how I will use them, I have not migrated to Thunderbird. Like Address book, any sync solution might also be needed to consider.

Final comment

I am happy I have migrated to Thunderbird. For time being on macOS, walking to Linux likely to happen, which should be fairly easy now when I am already on Thunderbird.

Thunderbird is a free and open source software; FOSS. They need donations like many free open software. If you use Thunderbird, please chip in some money once or even better regular, if you can.

Henrik Hemrin

23 November 2022


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