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.

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Author Rating
4.5 based on 3 votes
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Windows Taskbar Unread Badge
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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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