Finding and Installing Themes

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Themes are the easiest way you can make major changes to the way Thunderbird looks. A theme can alter virtually any part of the user interface, just as a Firefox theme does.

Most themes change background colors or images, button styles, and other interface features such as border styles and fonts.

In this section, we discuss themes, installing a theme switch, and removing themes. We'll also cover some common problems users have with themes.

Finding a Theme

There are fewer Thunderbird themes at Mozilla's website than for Firefox, but that should not stop you from checking there first for themes.

Going to gives you access to the themes Mozilla knows about. (Yes, there probably are also themes on the Internet that are not listed here.) When this was written, about 20 Thunderbird themes were available, in four categories: compact, miscellaneous, modern, and nature.

Another site with themes is This site's content is more limited than Mozilla's site is, but it contains some interesting and different themes.

Installing a Theme

Theme installation is only a bit more difficult with Thunderbird than with Firefox. The reason for the additional complexity is that Thunderbird is incapable of actually downloading the theme to do that, you need Firefox.

You can start your installation by finding your theme. Let's use the theme Outlook 2003 BlueTB, available from the Mozilla website. With Firefox, you first go to the download location ( and right-click the Install Now hyperlink.

In the Firefox context menu, select Save Link As. In the File Save As dialog box, select a destination folder. You also can optionally change the downloaded theme's filename. I download my themes to a folder named Thunderbird Themes in my Downloads folder.

After the download completes, close the Downloads window and minimize Firefox.

Next, in Thunderbird, select Tools, Themes. In the displayed window, click the Install button (see Figure 13.1). In the Select a Theme to Install window, navigate to the folder you saved the theme in and click the theme's JAR file. Then click the Open button.

Figure 13.1. Thunderbird's Themes dialog box is a carbon copy of the Firefox Themes dialog box.

Thunderbird prompts you with a confirmation of whether you want to install the theme; click OK. At this point, the theme is installed. Just like Firefox, you must click the theme to use it. Then click the Use Theme button. To see the newly selected theme, you must restart Thunderbird so close and restart it.

Switching Between Themes

Switching themes in Thunderbird is easy. Simply open Thunderbird's Themes window, click the theme you want to use, and then click the Use Theme button. An even faster way is to simply double-click the theme you want to use.

You must restart Thunderbird to make the newly selected theme active (see Figure 13.2).

Figure 13.2. This theme makes Thunderbird look a lot like Microsoft Outlook.

Of course, if you don't like the way Microsoft Outlook looks, there are many other themes you can use. Maybe you will want to delete that Microsoft Outlook theme.

Uninstalling a Theme

Getting rid of unwanted themes is also done using the Thunderbird Themes window. You can select any theme except for Thunderbird (default) and click the Uninstall button to remove it. Should the theme you are uninstalling be the current theme, Thunderbird switches back to the default theme (ah, so that's why you can't delete it…).

When a theme is deleted, the original source JAR file is not deleted, so you either have to manually delete the theme's JAR file or choose to just ignore it. Ignoring can work best that way you can reinstall the theme at a later time without having to download it again.

Common Theme Problems

Thunderbird cannot install themes directly from the Internet. Instead, you need to download them (using Firefox) and then install them. One problem some users report is that, when they download some themes, the theme's extension, which should be .jar, is incorrect. Mozilla recommends renaming the file, changing the incorrect extension to .jar, and attempting to reinstall the theme.

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    Firefox and Thunderbird. Beyond Browsing and Email
    Firefox and Thunderbird Garage
    ISBN: 0131870041
    EAN: 2147483647
    Year: 2003
    Pages: 245

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