Don't jump to next message in Thunderbird automatically

Martin Brinkmann
Jan 7, 2008
Updated • Mar 24, 2014
Email, Thunderbird

The problem that Thunderbird is always selecting the next message in line after deleting or moving the previous one has bothered me for some time. It happened more than once that a spam mail was selected and read that way which I did not want to happen for obvious reason.

The Unselect Message extension for the web browser puts an end to this. Instead of moving to the next message in line when deleting or moving a message, it simply does not select a new message. This makes sure that Thunderbird does not jump to a spam or malicious message after deleting or moving the previous one.

Unselect Message is unfortunately not compatible with the latest version of Thunderbird unless you change that. It seems that the author is not developing the extension anymore but it is working fine in the latest version of Thunderbird.

Download the Thunderbird add-on from the Mozilla website. Rename the xpi extension to zip and unpack it. Now edit the file install.rdf with a text editor and change the maxVersion entry from 1.6 to 2.1. Save the file and move it into the archive once again replacing the old version of it.

Now install the Thunderbird add-on as usual and the extension should work just fine. You can also click on the blank space at the bottom of the message list to unselect the message to empty the preview pane.

Update: The Thunderbird add-on is still available on the Mozilla Thunderbird Add-ons repository. It has not been updated though, which means that you still need to manipulate the downloaded file to enforce compatible with more recent versions of the email client.

It still appears to be working fine in the most recent versions of Thunderbird, but it is likely that it will eventually become incompatible.

Update 2: The extension is no longer working in new versions of Mozilla Thunderbird even if you manipulate the extension file. There is a comparable extension called Deselect on Delete which does the same thing when you delete messages but does not work when it comes to moving messages.


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  1. Quentin said on December 1, 2021 at 9:18 am
  2. VirtualGuy said on January 21, 2010 at 2:31 am

    Do you know of a new fix for this issue in the latest version of Tbird????

  3. Stefan said on September 26, 2009 at 10:39 am

    Thunderbird does not need an extension for that to be changed, there’s a configurable for it: have a look at , you will find the guideline to change it under ‘Change the Advance to Next Unread Message behavior’

    1. Stefan said on September 28, 2009 at 5:46 pm

      The tip mentioned before applies to unread messages only :-(
      A modified version of the add-on mentioned in the original acticle can be found at
      Look for the “download”-Link below the “Bumped Version:” header

  4. EchoesAndDust said on July 9, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    Thank you very much, that was so useful. That ‘feature’ was driving me up the wall.

  5. Magnus said on September 2, 2008 at 10:20 pm

    Great! Thanks!!! I was about to give up Thunderbird because of this annoying feature. Your tip works perfectly.

  6. Leonard Grossman said on January 20, 2008 at 6:42 pm

    There must be a way. The problem occurs most often when I have a lot of messages and I am in a hurry. That is when I find myself inadvertantly opening mail I would rather delete or skip for later.

    I am using the Eudora/penelope version of Thunderbird.

    Any suggestions?

  7. Calm Dog said on January 7, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    MailWasher is essential. But still there are times when you don’t want to open the next email in line. The simplest way I’ve found to avoid this is to just CLOSE the email and then hit the delete key. That deletes the current email and leaves you in position to open the next – if you want to.

  8. Wizard of Oz said on January 7, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    Using a program like MailWasher eliminates this problem altogether, since you can delete unwanted emails directly from the mail server before downloading the email that you do want to see.

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