Managing Your Mail

Everyone organizes things in different ways. The important thing is that you can find things quickly when you are looking for them and organize them in such a way that makes sense to you. By using labels, saved searches, and filters in Thunderbird, you can accomplish great things. Let's see how by looking at Thunderbird's excellent mail management features.

Creating Folders and Subfolders

At some point, you might need to create some additional folders to house different categories of email. To create a new folder, go to File | New Folder and give the folder a name. You can also designate whether you want the newly created folder to be a subfolder of an existing folder. Folders can be moved around, so it is a good idea to store your mail in a folder if you anticipate having to move it (to a local folder, for example) at some later time.


If you are using IMAP to manage your email, you might not be able to create subfolder.

Labeling and Marking Your Mail

Labeling and marking your mail allows you to quickly categorize email messages that you want to follow up on. When you need to find these categories quickly, Thunderbird offers you numerous ways to search your mail to find the messages you have labeled or marked.

Labeling Your Mail

Thunderbird allows you to label your mail into five categories:

  • Important

  • Work

  • Personal

  • To Do

  • Later

To label a message, go to Message | Label and select the category you want (you can also highlight a group of messages and mark them all at once). Thunderbird uses a default set of colors to highlight the messages after you mark them. These colors can be changed by going to Tools | Options | Display and clicking the box that shows the default color. You can also restore the default colors at any time by clicking Restore defaults.

After you have labeled your mail into the various categories, you can use the View feature described next to see messages in the various categories.

Marking Your Mail

To mark a message, go to Message | Mark and select the category you want. You can mark a message in the following categories:

  • As Read

  • Thread as Read

  • As Read by Date

  • All Read

  • Flag

  • As Junk

  • As Not Junk

Creating Saved Searches

Thunderbird's Saved Search feature creates a "virtual folder" in a place you designate according to a set of search criteria you define. As shown in Figure 12-1, the search criteria can be constructed using Boolean logic, and you can formulate the search using attributes such as subject, sender, junk status, and so on.

Figure 12-1. The New Saved Search Folder creation screen.

For Outlook Users

Microsoft Outlook's Search Folders feature is the same as Thunderbird's Saved Search feature.


A Saved Search folder is identified with a different icon than the one for a regular folder (as shown in Figure 12-2), so you can easily distinguish the difference between the two.

Figure 12-2. The Saved Search icon.

When you create a saved search, the messages do not actually get removed from the original location but are actually stored there in a virtual state. However, here are two essential things to remember when you are working with Saved Searches:

  • Individual messages deleted from a saved search are removed from their original location.

  • Deleting an entire saved search folder does not result in the loss of any messages, because you are operating on the saved search, not the individual messages within the search.

When You Get New Mail

Saved Search folders show new mail notification in the same way that your inbox does.

Ways to Create a Saved Search

Thunderbird gives you four different ways to create saved searches:


File MenuFile | New | Saved Search


File MenuEdit | Find | Search Messages


View Menu



To create a saved search, follow these instructions:


Name the search.


Designate where the folder will be stored.


Select the folders to be searched by checking the appropriate boxes.


If you are using IMAP, enable the checkbox to search online.


Construct your search criteria by entering your search terms in the box. Clicking the More button allows you to build a more complex search, as shown in Figure 12-3.

Figure 12-3. A Saved Search with the More option enabled.

Using the View Menu to Create a Saved Search

If you want to use the View menu to create a saved search, you first need to select the category that you want to view (such as "Recent Mail"). After Thunderbird sorts that view, click the View drop-down list and select Save Search as a Folder. You will get the same screen as in Figure 12-1, but it will be filled in with criteria since "Recent Mail" is defined as "Age in Days" is less than 1. Remember that you can change the criteria for this saved search to be anything you want.

Using Quicksearch to Create a Saved Search

If you want to use Quicksearch to create a saved search, you must select the category you want to search, such as "Sender" (see the "Searching Your Mail" section for an explanation of the Quicksearch feature). After Thunderbird retrieves that search and returns a set of results, you can click Save Search as a Folder and you will get the same screen as shown in Figure 12-1, filled in with the search criteria you have defined. If you want to change the search in some way, you have the opportunity to do that.

Changing Criteria on an Existing Saved Search

After you have created a saved search, it is easy to change the criteria at any time. Right-click the saved search you have created, select Properties, and then adjust the criteria you want.

Remember that if you have conducted a saved search and then change the criteria of the messages (like changing messages from one state to another), those messages will no longer appear in the Saved Search folder when you open it. Thunderbird refreshes the screen after you have changed criteria, so you should see an immediate change when you click back to the folder.

If you find you need to rename or delete an existing saved search, you can accomplish this by selecting the saved search and then right-clicking to bring up the context menu.

    Firefox and Thunderbird Garage (Garage Series)
    Firefox and Thunderbird Garage
    ISBN: 0131870041
    EAN: 2147483647
    Year: 2003
    Pages: 185

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