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Just as in the case of themes, the process to get and install an extension is slightly different in Thunderbird. This is because Thunderbird doesn't have the download capability. (Maybe some bright reader would care to take that on as his project?)
The first place to look for extensions is the Mozilla Thunderbird extensions pages. Try https://addons.mozilla.org/extensions/?application=thunderbird for your first attempt to find a specific extension. The Mozilla extensions site categorizes extensions into five groups: contacts, message reading, miscellaneous, news reading, and privacy and security.
Although there are not as many extensions for Thunderbird as for Firefox, you still have a choice of more than 100 extensions in these five categories. Another location to search is http://extensionroom.mozdev.org/main.php/Thunderbird, where more than 75 additional extensions are listed.
Many more extensions can be found using a Google search for the term "Thunderbird extensions download" (without quotes!).
Installing an Extension
Extension installation is similar to that of Firefox or to installing a Thunderbird theme.
When you find the extension you want, you must first download it to the location where you want to save your extensions. I use a folder named Thunderbird Extensions under my Downloads folder.
In the Firefox context menu, select Save Link As. In the File Save As dialog box, select the destination folder; you can optionally change the downloaded extension's filename.
After the download completes, close the Downloads window and minimize or close Firefox.
Next, in Thunderbird, select Tools, Extensions in the menu. In the displayed window, click the Install button. Then, in the Select an Extension to Install window, navigate to the folder in which you saved the extension and click the extension's .xpi file; then click the Open button.
Thunderbird prompts you with a confirmation asking whether you want to install the extension; click OK. At this point, the extension is installed. To use the newly selected extension, you must restart Thunderbird so close and restart it.
Uninstalling an Extension
Getting rid of the unwanted extensions is also done using the Thunderbird Extensions window. You can select any extension and click the Uninstall button to remove it.
When an extension is deleted, the original source .xpi file is not deleted, so you have to manually delete the extension's .xpi file or choose to just ignore it. Ignoring can work best because, that way, you can reinstall the extension at a later time without having to download it again.
Like Firefox, Thunderbird offers a safe mode where extensions are not loaded. The default theme is also used. This helps eliminate extensions and themes that can be keeping Thunderbird from starting properly.
You can tell Thunderbird to start in safe mode by using this syntax, either in Windows's Start, Run; a command prompt; or a shortcut:
"C:\program files\Mozilla Thunderbird\thunderbird.exe " -safe-mode
This assumes you have installed Thunderbird in the default location. Note that there is an embedded hyphen in the option.
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