Windows Taskbar Unread Badge displays a dynamic icon to indicate the total number of unread mails in Thunderbird

Dec 21, 2020
Email, Thunderbird

It's been a while since I wrote about Thunderbird extensions. Here's one that I've been using to ensure I don't miss new mails that land in my inbox. The add-on is called Windows Taskbar Unread Badge.

Windows Taskbar Unread Badge displays an icon to indicate the total number of unread mails in Thunderbird
That's quite a mouthful, but it also explains its functionality. The extension places a dynamic badge on Thunderbird's icon on the Taskbar. The badge indicates the number of mails that you've not read yet. That's a neat thing to have, as you can easily tell with a glance that new mails are waiting for you.

Windows 10's Mail app does this too, but it is fairly inconsistent. That is Windows in a nutshell, I suppose. When you open the app and close it without reading the mails, the unread count is no longer displayed, which totally defeats the purpose of having the badge.

Anyway, back to the Mozilla-backed mail client, the program by default places a tray icon, which you can mouse over to view the number of unread mails. That's something which people may forget to use or even fail to notice, which is why Windows Taskbar Unread Badge is a must-have add-on, in my opinion.

Install the extension and it gets to work immediately. You will see the badge count that is the sum of the unread mails from all your accounts. You can customize the extension from its options page.

Windows Taskbar Unread Badge options

There are 4 badge styles that you can choose from. The Modern style is the default appearance.

Windows Taskbar Unread Badge modern style

The dot style and envelope styles display a small dot and envelope badge respectively, but these have a con.

Windows Taskbar Unread Badge dot style

Windows Taskbar Unread Badge Envelope style

They don't display the number of unread mails.

Windows Taskbar Unread Badge Fruity style

The final option is "Fruity", which looks quite similar to the modern style, but the badge has a border around it like it's a fruit that's been sliced in half.

Personally I think the default one looks the best.

Windows Taskbar Unread Badge counts all unread mails from all folders associated with your account. That's not exactly ideal, because people use the Drafts folders for reminders/templates/note taking too, I know I do. But don't worry, you can make the extension count specific folders like the Inbox, Drafts, Junk, Sent, Trash. Just deselect the ones that aren't important to you.

The only con in the add-on is that Thunderbird has to be running in the background for the icon to actually work.

On a slightly unrelated note, you can send Thunderbird to the system tray by enabling an option. Head to the Options > General > System Integration, and toggle the setting that's labeled "When ThunderBird is minimized, move it to the Tray".

Thunderbird minimize to the tray

Fun fact: This option was made available in Thunderbird v76, it was added 18 years after users requested the feature.


Bug report:

If you keep closing the mail client like me, you can install the Minimize on Close extension (not open source), which I mentioned in my ThunderBirdTray review. This works quite nicely with the mail client's minimize setting. Sadly, Windows Taskbar Unread Badge does not display the unread count when Thunderbird is minimized to the tray, not that it's the add-on's fault, but I would have liked the option.

Windows Taskbar Unread Badge is an open source extension.

Note: Windows 10 users will need to enable the "Show badges on taskbar buttons" from the Taskbar Settings.

software image
Author Rating
4.5 based on 3 votes
Software Name
Windows Taskbar Unread Badge
Operating System
Software Category
Landing Page

Tutorials & Tips

Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


  1. Anonymous said on December 21, 2020 at 2:44 pm

    I rather system tray. Is there any native way to add Thunderbird to the system tray?

  2. Steve K said on December 21, 2020 at 2:14 pm

    Nice add on. However it’s specifically for Thunderbird.

    I use Email Tray which covers ALL my email accounts.
    I can read, sort, reply and delete any unwanted emails, as needed.
    Freeware, too. 👌

  3. Shmu said on December 21, 2020 at 12:27 pm

    Agreed, it is an indispensable addon, and it works only on Windows, not on Linux.

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.