Mozilla Thunderbird Tutorial

Mozilla Thunderbird logo

Mozilla Thunderbird is an e-mail client made by the Mozilla Corporation. To download Thunderbird, visit Mozilla's Thunderbird website.

This tutorial will presume that you have installed and configured the Thunderbird email client. If you need help or assistance with configuring Thunderbird, please see Configuring Thunderbird or contact the Technology Helpline.

Thunderbird Main Window

By default the Thunderbird window is divided into three panes. There are three different views available, from the View menu select Layout. Classic, Wide or Vertical - try each one until you find the one that works the best with your work habits.

Wide View
Classic View

The top or left pane shows you your mailboxes. The middle pane your messages and the bottom or right your messages.

Thunderbird Toolbar


Get Mail

The Get Mail button checks for new mail on the mailserver. Thunderbird will also check for new mail on it's own. You can adjust how and when Thunderbird checks on it's own by selecting Account Settings from the Tools Menu, on the Server Settings area adjust the Check for new messages every X minutes setting.


The Write button is for composing a new blank email message.

Address Book

The Address Book button will open Thunderbird's Address Book. Here you can manage contacts.


When a message is selected in the mailbox window the reply button will start a reply message to that message. Reply sends only to the sender of the original email. To change where your reply is added to the message (above or below the original) from the Tools Menu select Account Settings in the Composition and Addressing section adjust the Automatically quote the original message when replying then, section.

Reply All

When a message is selected in the mailbox window the reply all button will start a reply message that will be delivered to everyone that the original message was sent to.


When a message is selected in the right pane, the Forward button allows you to forward a message to another email address.


The Delete button moves the currently selected message or messages to the Trash mailbox.


Thunderbird may interpret certain messages as being Junk. You can use this button to toggle back and forth between Junk and not Junk. Junk messages have their images hidden.


The print button allows you to print the email message currently selected.


The Stop button stops the current incoming traffic (message transfer).

Account Settings

Detailed directions for configurations for using Gustavus email accounts with Thunderbird are available at Configuring Mozilla Thunderbird. Additional configuration options are available from the Tools - Account Settings menu.



Thunderbird can automatically append a signature to every email message you send.

  1. You need to create that file. Open a new message in Thunderbird and create the signature you desire (including images if you so wish)and then save it somewhere on your hard drive. You could use your Desktop or your My Documents folder.
  2. To attach the signature to your emails, from the Tools menu select Account Settings. Click the Choose button and navigate to the file you save as your signature.

There are Extensions that allow you to have multiple signatures and to turn signatures on and off. Signature Switch 1.4.2

Reply Behavior and LDAP Settings

Reply To behavior and LDAP Settings are found on the Composition and Addressing tab. From the Tools Menu select Account Settings and in the Composition and Address Tab you can adjust the Reply to behavior in the Composition area to your preferences.

In the Addressing section, click on use a different LDAP server and click edit directories. There you will need to click add and put in the settings displayed in the picture.

LDAP settings