Thunderbird 78.2.1 is out with OpenPGP enabled - gHacks Tech News


Thunderbird 78.2.1 is out with OpenPGP enabled

The team that works on the Thunderbird email client has released Thunderbird 78.2.1 to the client's stable channel on August 29, 2020. Existing Thunderbird installations will be upgraded automatically to the new version provided that automatic updating functionality has not been turned off and that Thunderbird 78.x is installed.

As has been the case with previous Thunderbird 78 releases, installations that are still on Thunderbird 68.x won't be upgraded automatically. A manual update is required at this point in time to upgrade earlier versions of Thunderbird to the latest.

One of the reasons for blocking the update is that add-ons support changed significantly in Thunderbird 78. The email client supports MailExtensions only and that means that some extensions won't work anymore in the new version.

thunderbird 78.2.1

One of the big new features of Thunderbird 78 was support for PGP encryption baked into the client directly. Thunderbird users had to install extensions such as Enigmail to integrate PGP support. The release of Thunderbird 78 integrated OpenPGP support in the email client, but it was not enabled by default because of issues that still needed to be resolved.

The release of Thunderbird 78.2.1 enables OpenPGP support by default in Thunderbird. Thunderbird users may select Tools > OpenPGP Key Manager to get started. The window that opens displays available keys that have been generated previously or imported, and options to generate new keys that can then be used to encrypt email conversations.

A click on Generate > New Key Pair starts the process that is as simple as it gets. All it takes is to select one of the available email accounts and actiate "generate key" to start the generation. Options to change the three year expiration date and key type / size are provided as well.

generate openpgp key

Key generation may take a few minutes according to the dialog that is presented to you after you activate the generate option. It took just two seconds on a test system though, mileage will vary depending on the computer's hardware and capabilities.

new pgp key

You may encrypt emails from that moment on when you use the email address. Just open the compose window in Thunderbird and select Options > Require Encryption. You need the public key of each recipient for that, and Thunderbird informs you if a key has not been provided yet.

Closing Words

The integration is straightforward and as simple as possible. Most users should not have any issues setting up keys to encrypt important emails. It is still necessary to exchange keys somehow, as it is not possible otherwise to encrypt emails.

Now You: Do you encrypt emails?

Thunderbird 78.2.1 is out with OpenPGP enabled
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Thunderbird 78.2.1 is out with OpenPGP enabled
The team that works on the Thunderbird email client has released Thunderbird 78.2.1 to the client's stable channel on August 29, 2020.
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  1. Damien said on August 30, 2020 at 3:35 pm

    Yes, I encrypt e-mails. Is it possible to run both Thunderbird versions 68 & 78 on the same computer without messing everything? Just to see if my addons are compatible with the new version of Thunderbird, 78.
    Thank you.

    1. Yuliya said on August 30, 2020 at 8:59 pm

      Portable, if you’re on Windows. Or just copy the profile folder and update; see what’s broken and if you don’t like it remove everything, place your original profile back and install whatever version you’re running now. This should work on any decent OS such as Windows or GNU/Linux.

    2. m3city said on August 31, 2020 at 9:03 am

      Sure it’s possible. I make a profile copy before checking new versions. I have a stable version installed normally, and new one/beta/nightly always as a portable, extracted from zip release.

  2. Christian said on August 31, 2020 at 10:53 pm

    Do you know how I can use the private keys made in TB 78 on another machine running TB78? I didn’t figure out howto export the private key to import on the second machine!?

    1. Anonymous said on September 1, 2020 at 4:52 pm

      Tools->OpenPGP Key Manager->Export Public Key and: Backup Private Key
      On the receiving computer: Import Private Key + Import Public Key.

      You can also access the PGP keys under Options->Account Settings->[Account name]->End-to-End Encryption->Key->more…

  3. leland said on September 1, 2020 at 9:48 pm

    Use the Profile Manager like you do in Firefox to use multiple profiles. Plus make a backup for the just in case factor. That way you can use multiple profiles without issue. However I would setup the second profile before installing and set Thunderbird to allow you to select the profile on startup until you are happy.

  4. Stv said on September 3, 2020 at 8:19 am

    It uses its own keyring and can’t read from system so GPG does not work on my side.
    It wants to import the primary private key which is stripped from the keyring and should not be imported at all.

    It is not ready yet.

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