Taking Advantage Of Thunderbird's Email Display Options

Martin Brinkmann
Sep 1, 2009
Updated • Jan 7, 2015
Email, Thunderbird

If you are a Windows user who uses a desktop email client chance is that you either use Mozilla Thunderbird or Microsoft Outlook.

Mozilla Thunderbird is in many aspects what Firefox is to web browsers. A highly configurable desktop email client.

The purpose of this article is to highlight several email display options in the Thunderbird email client that provide additional information on first glance.

These settings are in the open but missed by most users due to the way they are displayed in the email client.

If you open Mozilla Thunderbird in classic view you are looking at a window that is divided into two areas. The left sidebar contains the email folders while the right window the emails that are contained in the folders and the contents of the selected email.

Thunderbird displays the same icon in the header of the folder and email area to change email display options.

The display options can be accessed by left-clicking on the icon which will reveal several display options that can be enabled or disabled with another left-click.

The folder pane offers the three additional display options which are unread, total and size.

  • Unread displays the unread count of all folders displayed in Thunderbird.
  • Total the total number of emails in folders.
  • Size the size of that folder on the computer's hard drive.

These options offer several new ways of working with Thunderbird. It is for example possible to see the largest folders or the folders with the highest unread email count on a glance, or even all folders with unread emails in them.

The very same display option menu is available in the email list in the right pane. This one contains additional display options that will display the information in additional columns in the same window including sizes, email accounts, recipients, tags and about a dozen more.

email display options

Items marked with * are not enabled by default.

  • Thread highlights other emails of the same conversation.
  • Starred adds options to favorite emails.
  • Attachments displays a symbol if emails contain attachments.
  • Read whether the mail has been read yet.
  • From the sender of the mail.
  • *The recipient of emails.
  • Junk Status whether an email has been classified as junk.
  • *Status of emails such as read.
  • Size lists the size of each email.
  • *Tag email tags.
  • *Account the account emails were received in.
  • *Priority the priority level of emails.
  • *Unread the number of unread emails (in conversations and individually).
  • *Total the absolute number of emails (in conversations and individually).
  • *Location adds location based information if available.
  • *Order received lists a index number.

These options can again be used to display additional information in the email listing. The two email display options described in the paragraphs before can for example be used to discover and delete the biggest attachments or emails of a webmail account like Gmail, Yahoo Mail or Live Mail.

Please note that the setting can be customized for folders individually.

Taking Advantage Of Thunderbird’s Email Display Options
Article Name
Taking Advantage Of Thunderbird’s Email Display Options
How to display additional information about emails that you receive in Thunderbird using built-in display options.

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  1. Jacopo said on November 17, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    I’m a TB 2.0 user but I am not able to see title columns in folder panel. What have I to do to activate header row? Thanks

    1. Cosmo said on November 18, 2009 at 12:05 pm

      Go to “Tools -> Options -> Advanced -> General Settings”, and check the box for “Show expanded columns in the folder pane”.

  2. gregg said on October 4, 2009 at 3:41 am

    for TB3, see
    it appears to have been deprecated to a fragile add-on that requires a hack.
    this is progress?

  3. FreeYM said on September 1, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    Hello Martin.

    I’m using Thunderbird 3 beta 3 and in this version I couldn’t find this options.

    Do you have any idea if there is available and where to activate it?

    Or maybe an addon?

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