Gmail UI and functionality for Thunderbird

Martin Brinkmann
Apr 22, 2009
Updated • Jun 4, 2017
Email, Thunderbird

Gmail UI is a free add-on for the Thunderbird email client that brings several Gmail features to the desktop email program.

If you use both the online email service Gmail and the desktop email client Thunderbird you may like the idea of porting some of the features and shortcuts that Google has introduced to Gmail to Mozilla Thunderbird.

Gmail UI does that in form of an extension for the desktop client. It does not port all of Gmail features to the desktop email client but some of the most popular ones.

The add-on for Thunderbird is compatible with all Thunderbird versions including all recent versions of it. We have tested it on a system running Thunderbird 49 and it worked just as advertised.

Gmail UI for Thunderbird

One of the most interesting features is the archive function that it adds to Thunderbird. You select a folder name that you want to use for the archival of emails. This can either be a folder of one of your email accounts, or a system wide folder that works for all accounts configured in Thunderbird.

To archive an email once set up, you simply use the keyboard shortcut Y. This moves the currently selected email to the selected folder which can be useful to move emails quickly out of the inbox.

Basically, what it enables you to do is move emails to the archive folder quickly. While you can do so using drag and drop in Thunderbird already, using a keyboard shortcut for the operation makes things faster, especially if you move emails in rapid succession to the archive.

That's however not the only feature that has been ported over. It is possible to move messages up and down with the [J] and [K] keys, mark emails as junk with Ctrl-J or focus on the quick search bar with /.

The j and k keys allow you to display the next and previous email quickly in Thunderbird which may save you some clicks with the mouse if you prefer to use the keyboard for these kind of operations.

Expressions are added to the quick search bar which mimics the search expressions in Gmail. Some basic examples would be to enter terms like from:paul, to:mike or f:bob t:dave s:help to display results quickly based on what you enter.

The search f:fred a:yes for example searches for all messages by fred that have attachments. The extension supports more than two dozen operators which you find listed on this web page.

Here is a selection of interesting ones:

  • f:fred searches all messages sent by Fred.
  • t:fred searches all messages that Fred send you, tonocc to only search the to field.
  • cc or bcc search only those fields.
  • o:fred will search for messages with fred as the only recipient in the to field.
  • s: work searches for subjects that include the word work.
  • a:yes only returns emails with attachments.
  • fi:word.doc  returns emails that include word.doc as an attachment

Update: The latest version of Gmail UI for Thunderbird is fully compatible with all recent versions of the desktop email client. It also good to know that you do not need Gmail to use the extension in Thunderbird, as it is only inspired by Gmail but not dependent on the service.

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  1. JMGG said on January 19, 2012 at 8:25 am

    You said that Outlook isn’t your main email client, so which is your main one?

    1. BalaC said on January 19, 2012 at 9:42 am

      I think its thunderbird

    2. Martin Brinkmann said on January 19, 2012 at 10:15 am

      It is Mozilla Thunderbird.

  2. Salaam said on September 24, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    Awesome! This actually solved my problem… what a stupid bug.

  3. Claud said on December 19, 2012 at 2:08 am

    If this is the same bug that I’ve encountered, there may be another fix: (1) hover over open Outlook item in Taskbar, cursor up to hover over Outlook window item, and right-click; (2) this should give you Restore / Move / Size / Minimize / Maximize — choose Move or Size; (3) use your cursor keys, going arbitrarily N/S/E/W, to try to move or size the Outlook window back into view. Basically, the app behaves as though it were open in a 0x0 window, or at a location that’s offscreen, and this will frequently work to resize and/or move the window. Don’t forget to close while resized/moved, so that Outlook remembers the size/position for next time.

    1. Lynda said on February 12, 2013 at 3:37 pm

      THANK YOU Claude!!! I could get the main window to launch but could not get any other message window to show on the desktop. You are my hero!!!!

    2. Chad said on November 20, 2018 at 4:24 pm

      Solved my issue! 6 years later and this is still problem…

    3. Ivan X said on January 21, 2021 at 4:50 pm

      Fantastic. Thank you. Size did the trick.

  4. Andrew said on October 26, 2013 at 7:06 am

    This solved my Outlook problem, too. Thank you. :)

  5. Charles said on December 7, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    Thank you so much, this started happening to me today and was causing big problems. You are a life saver, I hope I can help you in some way some day.

  6. garth said on November 7, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    You are a god – thank you!

  7. Faisal said on February 9, 2015 at 10:09 am

    thanks a lot…. work like charm.. :-)

  8. Simon said on March 24, 2015 at 11:36 pm

    Yah…thanks Claude. I’ve been having the same problem and tried all the suggestions…your solution was the answer. It had resized itself to a 0/0 box. Cheers

  9. Olu said on April 14, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    Excellent post. This had me baffled even trying to accurately describe the problem. This fixed it for me.
    Thank you

  10. Coenig said on July 23, 2015 at 7:36 am

    Thanks a lot for the article. Don’t know why it happenend, don’t know how it got fixed, but it was really annoying and now it works :-)

  11. Fali said on January 20, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    Thanks a lot. I was facing this issue from past 3 week. I tried everything but no resolution. The issue was happening intermittently and mainly when I was changing the display of screen ( as i use 2 monitors). The only option i had was to do system restore. But thanks to you.

    1. MIki said on January 10, 2019 at 11:54 am

      I’ve been tried to sole this problem for 12hours. Your comment about changing the display of screen helped me a lot!! Thanks!!

  12. Christina said on January 20, 2016 at 6:14 pm

    Thank you…don’t know why this happened but your instructions helped me fix it. Running Windows 10 and office pro 2007

  13. Oz said on July 22, 2016 at 3:20 pm

    Great tip! Thanks!

  14. Tracy said on September 1, 2016 at 4:48 pm

    Worked for me, too – thank you!!!

  15. shawn said on September 9, 2016 at 10:25 am

    It’s Worked for me, too
    thank you very much!

  16. Jari said on October 31, 2016 at 11:53 am

    I had a similar issue with Outlook 2013 on Windows 10 and this helped me to fix it. Thank you very much!

  17. Michel H said on November 30, 2016 at 11:08 pm

    Thank you so much. Solved!
    Considering you published this in 2012, incredible not been debugged by Microsoft.
    Thank you again. M

  18. Ziad Bitar said on January 9, 2017 at 2:00 am

    This problem was faced by only one user logging to TS 2008 r2 using outlook 2010.The issue was resolved.


  19. Anonymous said on February 15, 2017 at 5:24 pm

    Great tip. Thank you!!!! If it helps, I had to use the Control Key and the arrow keys at the same time to bring my window back into view. Worked like a charm.

  20. Rochelle said on March 6, 2017 at 11:59 am

    Thank you, this worked !!!!

  21. anom1234 said on May 20, 2018 at 11:20 pm

    Man, you are a fucking god. Thanks a lot, what an annoying bug!!

  22. JC said on October 12, 2020 at 2:14 pm

    Awesome, this post solved the issue. Many thanks!

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