How To Setup Multiple Email Identities In Thunderbird

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 2, 2009
Updated • May 7, 2017
Email, Thunderbird

The desktop email client Thunderbird makes it easy to setup and use multiple email identities.

Multiple identities can be useful in several situations, for instance to combat spam by using different identities for different purposes, or using custom settings for mail accounts. Other benefits include forwarding messages from another e-mail address, or using a catch-all account for a domain and otherss.

Note that Gmail, Yahoo Mail and Outlook support the creation of so-called email aliases which offer similar functionality.

You may ask yourself right now what identities are, and how they differ from email addresses. Thunderbird creates a default identity whenever you create an email address. You may add others to it, using different names, signatures and more, and may switch between the different identities when replying to emails.

A basic example where identities are useful. If you run a website, you may have a contact email on that website, say [email protected]. Depending on who contacts you, you may use different identities or signatures. You may use a more formal identity for business inquiries (think sales@), and another for users who report technical issues.

How to create email identities in Thunderbird

Email identities can be created in the account settings of the Thunderbird email client. The account settings can be reached from the top Tools menu.

You then need to select one of the configured email accounts. A button Manage Identities should appear on the page that opens the identity listing first.

To create a new identity, click on the add button in the window. You may also edit existing identities, change the default identity for the account, or delete identities (except for the last one).

thunderbird identities

You find lots of options when you create new identities or edit existing ones. You may set the following data:

  • Name
  • Email Address
  • Reply-to Address
  • Organization
  • Email Signature
  • Attach signature
  • Attach vCard
  • Outgoing Server
  • Customize archives, drafts, templates, copies.
  • Set default mail format (HTML, plain text).
  • Customize quotes
  • Customize the looking up of addresses.
  • Configure digital signing, and encryption.

The email address can be the same but it does not have to be. It is even possible to add a completely unrelated email address for that new identity.

You can theoretically configure the identity to send email that looks like its coming from any email account in the world (enter [email protected] for instance and send the mail to one of your accounts to see how it works).

When you write a new message, Thunderbird uses the default identity for the account you are working in. When you reply to a message, Thunderbird uses the identity that matches the address the message was originally sent to, if it can find a match in the account you are working in.

You can select any identity from any of your accounts when replying, forwarding or composing a new message by selecting it in the From drop down list box. If desired, you can also create a unique signature, specify the draft folder, what folder your copy of the sent message should be stored in, and what reply-to address should be used for each identity.

Identities should not be confused with email accounts as they are different. Accounts can have multiple identities associated with them which you can select when sending emails.

When you create a new email message, Thunderbird uses the default identity by default. You can switch to another identity with a click in the From field. Thunderbird lists all configured email accounts there, and all identities that you have added.

Additional information about email identities in Thunderbird are available on the official Thunderbird support website, and on the Mozillazine website.

How To Setup Multiple Email Identities In Thunderbird
Article Name
How To Setup Multiple Email Identities In Thunderbird
The article offers information on how to set up identities for email accounts in the Mozilla Thunderbird email client.
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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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