Fix for Thunderbird not opening links

I have configured the Thunderbird email client to block links from being opened when I click on them. This may sound strange to some as it makes it less convenient to open links posted in emails but it improves the security of the system.

Some Thunderbird users may on the other hand experience issues opening links in emails even though they'd prefer that to be available to them. If you are one of them read on how to fix the issue in the email client. Note that this is just one of the solutions and that it may not be the one working for you. I suggest you check out the Mozilla Zine article for additional solutions that may help you resolve it if the one published here does not resolve the issue for you.

  1. Open the Thunderbird email program and wait until it is idle.
  2. Click on Tools > Options to open the settings. If you only have a single Thunderbird button click on the button and then on Options there.
  3. Switch to Advanced > General and click on Config Editor here.
  4. Filter for the term network.protocol-handler.external-default by copying and pasting it into the search field at the top.
  5. A value of false indicates that Thunderbird won't open links in external clients.
  6. Double-click the value to set it to true.
  7. Keep the editor open for now.

thunderbird open links

The change takes effect immediately and you should be able to open links in the default browser from that moment in time on. Note that this will only fix the issue if the value of the parameter was set to false initially.

Read also:  Google won't read Gmail emails anymore for advertisement

If that is not working, try the following option.

  1. Go back to the editor
  2. Filter for the term network.protocol-handler.warn-external.http and set it to true with a double-click (it is false by default)
  3. This displays the "open with" dialog when you click on a link for the first time which you can use to pick a program for the protocol. If you want to always open links in the application check the remember my choice for http links at the bottom of that screen.
  4. Repeat the procedure for network.protocol-handler.warn-external.https and network.protocol-handler.warn-external.ftp to display the prompt for http and ftp links as well.

launch  link thunderbird photo

The parameters should be enough to resolve the links not opening issue in Thunderbird.



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Responses to Fix for Thunderbird not opening links

  1. Ken Saunders January 20, 2013 at 10:49 pm #

    My problem is that I have to open Thunderbird first, and then open Firefox from a link in Thunderbird to get things to work. If I open Firefox first, then Thunderbird, clicking on a link in Thunderbird brings up the Firefox profile manager.
    If I close Thunderbird and leave Firefox running, then reopen Thunderbird and click a link, the Firefox profile manager opens again.
    Not ideal, but it is what it is.
    Now I just drag links to Firefox.

    I'm guessing that this probably wouldn't happen if I only had one Firefox profile.

  2. Michael Wilkinson January 21, 2013 at 3:21 pm #

    Or just right click on the link and say open in browser.

    • bitjocky October 8, 2016 at 1:16 am #

      ...the broken piece is deeper than this, in my case, no joy...

  3. Beach Bouy January 21, 2013 at 4:37 pm #

    I have two FF profiles (default and test), and I don't get the profile manager when I click links in Thunderbird emails.

  4. Drew Dawson January 21, 2013 at 5:16 pm #

    ..and if you just use network.protocol-handler.warn-external. all four show up.

  5. Ken Saunders January 21, 2013 at 11:32 pm #

    I once read somewhere that my issue may have something to do with the fact that I have multiple versions of Firefox installed (Release, Beta, Aurora, Nightly, UX, Firefox MSN version) and the order in which they were installed.

    One recommended fix was something like making another browser the default one, then switching back to Firefox, but that didn't work.

  6. Roger August 18, 2013 at 9:43 pm #

    Thank you, Martin! It's nice to have the links working again. :-)

  7. David September 9, 2013 at 2:59 pm #

    Still doesn't work. Got the dialog "this link needs to be opened with an application", chose FF then nothing happens when I click on links. So frustrating.

  8. Mikey September 11, 2013 at 4:10 am #

    Solution with simple workaround.

    None of the posted solutions from any site worked for me and the registry hacks had no effect.
    Judging by the many people having this problem,it seems to be a real unsolvable epidemic fro most.

    What does work:

    (1) install a Thunderbird app. called Thunderbrowse,which will restore all or some linkage.
    In my experience it was a bit hit and miss and untidy,but mostly worked.

    (2) Install Thunderbird Portable.
    This definitely works normally,when no add ons have been installed which suggests the problem could be add on related,but I have not experimented .

    (3) Ditch Thunderbird as default client.

    Install instead PostBox,which is Mozilla based and has a similar but cleaner,simpler feel.
    or
    Install eMClient,different layout,but just as effective as both are faster and don't seem cumbersome like Tbird.

    Both will import settings and profiles, including all mail from Tbird,so are very simple to set up.

    This is what I have done,as it seems futile hanging around with TBird .
    The developers have shown no interest in fixing the glaring fault and development will cease soon in any case

    • Gisle Vanem February 26, 2016 at 10:32 am #

      > (1) install a Thunderbird app. called Thunderbrowse,which will restore all or some linkage.

      Wow! Works perfectly. I had big troubles with using Chrome as the external protocol-handler in TB 38.6. None of the other tips here worked. All I got in the "error-console" was:

      NS_ERROR_FILE_NOT_FOUND in some obscure .js file.

      Contrary to all the comment on "Reviews for ThunderBrowse" at
      https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/thunderbird/addon/thunderbrowse/,

      this extension works fine in TB 38.6.

      Thanks man.

  9. Pablo October 26, 2013 at 12:35 pm #

    I wonder what I did that stopped the links working in the first place. Anyway, sorted now. Thanks

  10. Jon March 17, 2014 at 10:15 pm #

    Thanks for the solution. It helped me fix my email link problem in a couple minutes.

  11. Miguel May 23, 2014 at 7:00 pm #

    Thanks a lot. At last I found what I was looking for!
    This solved the lack of response of hyperlinks that I was having for more than a week, since I moved my TB profile to OwnCloud so as to share it between computers. I was starting to think something was wrong with sharing config files ...or whatever. I had run through the recommendations in the official Mozilla site without success (how surprising!).
    Very hepful! Thanks again.
    Miguel

  12. Jonathan June 1, 2014 at 4:30 am #

    The second fix worked! I reset the values to true and after they asked me for the default handler, my browser opened. Thanks for posting the fix. The other articles I saw only had the first suggestion. I'd click the thumbs-up icon if you had one.

  13. peter wassink August 20, 2014 at 8:50 pm #

    I have the same problem with the added fact that none of the:
    network.protocol-handler.external -preferences are in the list.

    Could this fact be causing my problem?
    And if so how to get them to appear in the list?

  14. Mike McCarthy September 12, 2014 at 10:50 am #

    I messed around with links not opening in Thunderbird for ages - tried many of the online solutions given, to no avail until I done the following:
    In Thunderbird click on Tools then Options, changed my HTTP and HTTPS settings from "Use Internet Explorer" to "Use Google chrome" (Under the headings CONTENT TYPE and ACTION) didn't take long, easy to do and works like a charm!

    • David January 2, 2016 at 11:40 pm #

      This is what fixed it for me. I was set for Firefox as default but I set them both to IE and then back to Firefox and now clicking on links work. Strange...

  15. Michael Wilkinson September 15, 2014 at 1:33 pm #

    Mike McCarthy,
    You say
    "In Thunderbird click on Tools then Options, changed my HTTP and HTTPS settings."

    You have missed a step.
    What tab do you go to after opening options ? There are 9 initial tabs to choose from then some tabs have multiple options
    Tbird works fine for me but anyone new with problems wont find your solution explicit enough.
    Thank you

  16. JodieG December 3, 2014 at 11:58 am #

    I tried your fix (was able to follow the instructions easily), and it looked like it was going to work, but even when I selected Chrome as the default, and ticked the box to remember the setting, the web page still didn't open in Chrome. Right clicking didn't work either. The only way I can seem to get links to open in Chrome when this happens is to shut Thunderbird down and open it up again.

    What do I do now?

    Thanks.

  17. Thor January 10, 2015 at 3:45 am #

    Mozilla does not offer any good solutions to this problem, which obviously quite a number of us have. It's a real nuisance and all the more irritating that Mozilla doesn't come up with a proper fix for it.
    I have an additional problem, too, the "contents" option (F1) under the Help tap doesn't open up either. Nothing happens when I click at "contents".
    I'm beginning to wonder whether I should quit using Thunderbird altogether.

  18. Chris Copland March 31, 2015 at 9:17 am #

    I got sick of windows mail and switched to Thunderbird "Again" I used it before but it lacked a couple of features I had become accustomed to. that was years ago. This time everything seemed fine except those damn links being un-clickable.
    So I turned to Google and found this clear precise explanation into the Dragons Den of Thunderbird.
    Keep up the good work and for your solution... a big big Thanks!

  19. Carmen April 5, 2015 at 7:22 am #

    I can't open HTTPS links from Thunderbird. When I try, my cursor blinks steady. I go to task manager and Thunderbird is bouncing all over and my processor time jumps around sometimes as low as 40%. I have to chase the Thunderbird task all over the screen and hopefully make it to the End Process button before Thunderbird jumps again. After about 20 or 30 tries I have to shut down to get back to normal. If I catch it right I'm ok but that is rare. I have tried everything from reloading to you name it.

    Using Win XP pro. If anyone has this exact problem and knows a fix I would appreciate finding out what it is. Thanks!

  20. david June 23, 2015 at 9:10 pm #

    worked for me

  21. David October 1, 2015 at 5:07 am #

    Did the trick!!!! Thanks!!!! ;)

  22. Alikhat October 13, 2015 at 10:59 am #

    I just found another fix that might work for those who've been getting no change from the above instructions.

    Filter for "network.protocol-handler.warn-external.http" and "network.protocol-handler.warn-external.https" and change both to True.

    Chances are, both these will be bolded in the list. Changing these and clicking "okay" should bring up the dialog box asking to set a default browser. I was not getting this until I changed these settings. Now my Thunderbird links are opening just fine. Hope this helps for others as well.

  23. Johhny November 25, 2015 at 7:08 pm #

    Changing the about:config settings worked for me, but only after restarting windows.

  24. Jay Lepore December 25, 2015 at 6:27 pm #

    Nailed it.

    Thanks

  25. Joe January 17, 2016 at 7:32 pm #

    Unfornately non of the proposals worked on both of my Windows 10 systems. Tried reinstallation of Thundbird and and and. The result is the same: click on link never works - not even the Launch Application popup appears. Right click and open link in browser works neither. More ideas?

  26. jtw February 18, 2016 at 1:37 am #

    none of this works for me in TB 38.6.0. I can make it ask me for the program to use to open the attachment; it kind of blinks, and then nothing happens. it's always copy and paste, which gets annoying and seems to defeat a lot of the purpose of having these fancy programs

  27. Dan March 24, 2016 at 12:45 pm #

    This worked or me! The problems began when I tried to install Windows 10 in my HP notebook. The HP security program wouldn't let me install Windows 10 and in the process must have changed some of my internal settings (just a guess.) Thank you for your help.

  28. D April 25, 2016 at 4:02 am #

    Thank you very much! Have been pulling hair out trying to fix this since last update.

  29. Sue April 26, 2017 at 11:53 pm #

    Thank you, the second solution worked for me. Chrome was listed in the default when I clicked on the link, but I went and re-added it as Chrome.exe, and now all is good again. For how long, I don't know. But thank you. Not sure what broke, that is, a Thunderbird update or a Chrome update.

  30. Milton June 29, 2017 at 8:49 pm #

    It worked on my debian system which for any reason lost this feature.
    Thx for the tips!!

  31. JMH August 13, 2017 at 2:58 am #

    This worked for me. Tools, Options, Attachments, then you should see under "Content Type" http and https.
    If it says under "Action", "Use Firefox (default)" click down arrow and click "Use other...", then in Select Helper Application window click "Browse..." goto your Mozilla Firefox folder then click on "firefox.exe", then click open and boom, Bob's your uncle. Do it for both http and https and you're all set. Anyway this worked for me and it's relatively simple. Good Luck.

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