5 Useful Thunderbird 3 Add-Ons That You Might Not Have Heard About Yet

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 16, 2009
Updated • Mar 26, 2017
Email, Thunderbird

Update: Thunderbird development has continued and the latest version is not 3 anymore. We have updated the article and the add-ons if it was necessary to reflect that (some add-ons were no longer compatible with newer versions of the email client).

I have been using the desktop email client Mozilla Thunderbird for many years, and have witnessed its rise to become one of the most powerful email software programs.

I switched to version 3 since the first beta hit the download servers and have not looked back since.

Version 3 of Thunderbird adds many interesting new features to the email client. It does however get rid of some of the old ones that at least some users will miss.

It is also a fact that the email client is still only available as a beta version which should not be used without caution (meaning regular backups and extensive testing).

The following five add-ons have recently been added to the Mozilla Thunderbird extensions repository at the Mozilla website.

Some of them are not yet compatible with the latest beta of Thunderbird 3. You need to force compatibility in this case with the Nightly Tester Tools add-on (or edit the compatibility setting in the xpi file manually).

Extra Folder Columns

Thunderbird 2 users were able to display extra columns in the mail folder sidebar. These columns could display the size of each folder on the local hard drive, the total number of emails contained within, and the number of emails that have not been read yet. Not so with Thunderbird 3 which does not provide these additional columns for the folders at all.

Extra Folder Columns has been designed for Thunderbird 3 and up to add those three columns again to the email client. All three data columns will be displayed by default, but the user has the option to remove them individually so that only the columns are displayed that are of interest to the Thunderbird user.

download Extra Folder Columns

Update: The Thunderbird team added the functionality back to Thunderbird. To show the column picker using the traditional menu bar, select View > Layout > Folder Pane Columns. Or, click the toolbar menu button New Fx Menu and then select Options > Layout > Folder Pane ColumnsPreferences > Layout > Folder Pane Columns.

Show In/Out


Show In/Out has been designed for Thunderbird users who like to move email conversations, that is all incoming and outgoing emails, to one folder to have access to all emails of a conversation directly.

Thunderbird by default does not show if an email was an incoming or outgoing email. That's where Show In/Out steps in. It adds two new columns to the main window of Thunderbird. The first displays an icon showcasing if the email was incoming or outgoing, the second displays the name of the sender or recipient depending if the email was incoming or outgoing.

The developer has designed the add-on to replace the sender and recipient columns in the Thunderbird main window helping users who like to move all incoming and outgoing emails into the same folder.

download Show In/Out


thunderbird birthdays

ThunderBirthday displays the birthdays of email contacts in the Lightning calendar add-on. The extension has two dependencies that need to be installed before it can be installed.

It first needs the Lighting calendar add-on for Thunderbird and second the MoreFunctionsForAddressBook add-on which adds the fields "birthday", "birthmonth" and "birthyear" to the email address book.

Create a new calendar in Lightning by clicking File>New>Calendar... in the menu bar. Then choose "On My Computer" as location and "Birthdays from the Thunderbird addressbook" as type for your calendar. Also specify the address book to use as a source for birthdays. Finally choose a name for the new calendar.

Now open the "Edit Card" dialog of an address book card and set the birthday in the "Other data" tab. Note that these changes don't take effect in the calendar until it gets reloaded. To do this either restart Thunderbird or right click on a calendar from the list, then choose "Reload Remote Calendars".

Also note that the events generated by ThunderBirthDay cannot be modified with Lightning for the moment. Maybe future versions of the extension will be bidirectional.

download ThunderBirthDay


forward email

Thunderbird forwards by default email messages as attachments.

This can be changed in Tools → Options → Composition → General so that the email messages are forwarded as inline messages instead.

There is also an option in the Message menu to select either attachment or inline as the method of forwarding the selected emails in Thunderbird.

This add-on simply moves this option to more prominent locations: The Forward button and Message context menus.

download Forward

Border Colors


If you have multiple email accounts configured in Thunderbird you may know that there is a chance that you send an email to a recipient using the wrong account.

Border Colors is a very simple add-on for Thunderbird that color codes each account that has been configured in the email client. The colors have to be selected after the installation of the add-on as black is being used as the default color for all email accounts.

After configuration a border in the color that has been chosen during configuration will be shown when writing emails. A switch between accounts in the compose email window will also change the border color accordingly.

download Bordercolors

Update: Bordercolors is no longer available. We suggest you use Account Colors instead.

I hope you enjoyed this article. Please write a comment if you would like to have your say on a specific add-on mentioned in this article or would like to add one of your favorite Thunderbird add-ons so that other users can benefit from it as well.

5 Useful Thunderbird 3 Add-Ons That You Might Not Have Heard About Yet
Article Name
5 Useful Thunderbird 3 Add-Ons That You Might Not Have Heard About Yet
The guide looks at five add-ons for the desktop email client Thunderbird, and how they may improve your workflow and the program itself.
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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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