Thunderbird Note Taking Add-On

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 10, 2009
Updated • Apr 10, 2017
Email, Thunderbird

One feature that is missing in all versions of the Mozilla Thunderbird desktop email client is the ability to take notes, a feature that has been available in Microsoft Outlook for a long time.

Note taking comes in handy in several situations, but mostly for adding information to received or sent email messages.

This can be information that have been copied and pasted from somewhere else, contact information, tasks and basically anything else that is relevant but not part of the original email message.

Update: Please check out the updates at the end of the article. The original add-on is no longer available. We list an alternative note taking add-on for Thunderbird at the end of the review.


Thunderbird Note Taking

The Thunderbird add-on tbNotes adds note taking options to the email software. It's current version is limited to Thunderbird 3 editions which are currently only available as beta versions (the official download version is still Thunderbird 2.x at the time of writing).

The add-on adds capabilities to add, edit and remove notes in Thunderbird. The functionality becomes available after right-clicking an email message in Thunderbird. This opens the context menu with options to write, edit or remove notes.

It would be very confusing if there would not be an indicator if a note is attached to an email. Users of the note taking add-on can add a new column to the email table layout in Thunderbird that indicates if notes are available.

This column is not displayed by default, and needs to be added to the layout by clicking on the rightmost icon on the header listing.

It is furthermore possible to display all notes on a separate page in the email client. Filters are available on the page to reduce the number of notes that are shown there. The page can be accessed with a click on Tools > Notes.

The developer has lots of plans to extend the functionality of the add-on. Planned are a sidebar with note categories, or a special folder containing all the notes, adding notes to Thunderbird search and Lighting support so that notes can get automatically synced with the calendar add-on.

The tbNotes add-on can be downloaded from the Mozilla Thunderbird website. Keep in mind that it only works with Thunderbird 3.x clients.

Update: tbNotes has been discontinued. XNote is an excellent alternative that adds note taking again to the email client.

Update 2: XNote has been discontinued as well. An Alternative note taking extension for Thunderbird is QuickNote. Another extension that you may want to try out is Message Notes Plus. It enables you to attach notes to email messages which is different from QuickNote's behavior which only allows to add notes to Thunderbird (and not associate them with emails).

Both add-ons should work fine in recent versions of Thunderbird despite the fact that they have not been updated for a while.

Add a note taking add-on to Thunderbird
Article Name
Add a note taking add-on to Thunderbird
Review of several note taking add-ons for the Thunderbird email client that allow you to add notes to specific email messages.
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  1. Joe said on November 10, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    I have been using the excellent Evernote 2 clipper with all versions of Thunderbird (currently for notetaking. I use the local application of Evernote 2 and not the web version of Evernote.

  2. Qiu said on November 10, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    Thunderbird has an add-on called XNote which I have been using for years.

  3. Joe said on November 10, 2009 at 11:49 pm

    Xnote and Evernote are two different types of applications for Thunderbird

    Xnote is a sticky note taker whilst Evernote will copy part or a whole email by using the right click context menu. A local database of all notes taken is created.

    The local application of Evernote used to work on earlier versions of Firefox but Firefox 3+ will now only work with the web-based Evernote application. A shame.

  4. gLf said on November 11, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    Just an info: when is the release of TB3?

    1. Martin said on November 11, 2009 at 3:52 pm

      Not sure. They plan to release a release candidate soon so it cannot be that far away anymore.

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