Thunderbird Folder Hotkeys

Martin Brinkmann
Sep 13, 2008
Updated • Aug 20, 2013
Email, Thunderbird

One of the limitations of Thunderbird is that there are no hotkeys to quickly switch between folders or save mail into another folder. The user has to use the mouse to save or copy mails into folders and use it as well if he wants to switch folders. Well there actually is a way to switch folders with the keyboard only which involves ALT Tab but it's more of a nuisance than a useful feature.

Enter Nostalgy for Thunderbird. The extension for Thunderbird adds much needed hotkey support for several actions that are performed regularly. The major three are switching to another folder, saving mail into a folder and to copy mail into a folder.

The shortcuts are (g) for switching folders, (s) for saving mails and (c) for copying mails. Pressing a button opens a folder browser and a text input field in the status bar of Thunderbird. The user can enter part of the folder's name to filter the results and use the up and down arrow keys to select it. Pressing Shift in combination with one of the hotkeys will go to, save or copy the selected mails into the folder that has been previously used.

Nostalgy provides access to several other hotkeys and provides users with the option to create their own. The hotkey (b) saves the current message in the selected folder and puts the focus on it, (L) hides the folder pane, (`) shows messages with the same sender / subject and the two search hotkeys (return) and (CTRL return) which selects and focuses on the last / all messages that match the criteria.

New hotkeys can be created with the Go, Save, Copy and Save Go commands which can be extremely useful to navigate and work with a set of popular folders.

The help file contains reference to additional hotkeys that might be useful to some users:

  • L Hide/show the folder pane
  • ESC-F Focus the folder pane
  • ESC-M Focus the message pane
  • ESC-ESC Focus the thread pane
  • ESC-ESC-ESC Focus the thread pane, clear quick search box, select the "All" view
  • ESC-I Focus the quick search box (same as Ctrl-K)
  • Ctrl-Left/Right Scroll the message from the thread pane

The last interesting feature of Nostalgy is the creation of rules that match folders with messages which are then proposed in the status bar. This makes it possible to move messages quickly to their designated folders with the Shift S or Shift C combination. Might be useful if a user wants to read a message before moving it to another folder.

The only problem that may be experienced is that Nostalgy may have problems with Thunderbird themes that reduce the size of the status bar. The functionality is still available but the user might run into display problems for the text that is typed into the box.


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  1. Wayne said on September 14, 2008 at 6:29 pm

    I use TB Quickmove (which I can’t seem to find on the addons page anymore) and it’s fantastic. You designate shortcuts for various folders i.e. ctl+1 to move to ALL folder. It’s a huge timesaver and I couldn’t do without it.

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