Let's face itif Tweedledum and Tweedledee had email accounts, they would likely manage their email quite differently (or contrarily). Luckily, Thunderbird allows you some degree of flexibility in how you can view and sort your email, which will please even the most discriminating email connoisseur. The View menu drop-down list and Grouped by Sort are two handy ways you can rapidly sort your mail in a variety of configurations.
Thunderbird has a "View" drop-down list that allows you to sort your email into various categories, including the "Unread" category, which is particularly useful if you are like me and skip through messages from previous days and then need to go back and find them quickly. You can view mail that you have labeled in the five categories that are set forth in the "Labeling and Marking Your Mail" section, as well as a few other default categories, including People I know, Recent Mail, Last 5 Days, Not Junk, and Has Attachments. Perhaps the best feature in this section is the ability to customize these existing views as well as create new ones. If you click the Customize button, you see the dialog box shown in Figure 12-9, which shows you the existing views that you can operate on.
Figure 12-9. The Customize Message Views dialog box.
Clicking New generates a Message View Setup screen that allows you to construct a new custom view according to criteria you set.
Grouped by Sort
How would you like to press one key and immediately have your mail sort by a particular category? That is exactly what the Grouped by Sort feature can do for you, as demonstrated in Figure 12-10. Pressing the "G" key while you are in your inbox or in a folder triggers Thunderbird to sort the mail according to the default set in the File menuView | Sort By (if you have never configured this before, the default is by date).
Figure 12-10. Grouped by Sort using Date as the default parameter.
Pressing the "G" key again will not undo the sort action. You must go into the File menu to change the sort.
As you can see from the example, sorting by date collapses the mail into a set of categories that makes it easier for you to find mail from two weeks ago, for example. Clicking the widget next to the name expands the set of messages so you can see the mail listed in that category.
Before you use Grouped by Sort, you should sort your mail in columns by the category that you want to sort on (you can do this by simply clicking the column name or by using the View | Sort By option before you press the "G" key). Then you can either press the G key or go to the File menuView | Sort By, choose which category you want to sort on, and then select Grouped by Sort. To move from Grouped by Sort mode back to your original state (either Threaded or Unthreaded), you need to go back to the File menu and select that parameter under View | Sort By.
The Grouped by Sort feature does not work with all the categories that are shown in the View | Sort By drop-down list. You can operate on the following categories: Date, Priority, Sender, Recipient, Status, Subject, and Label. Also, you cannot use the Grouped by Sort feature on saved searches.
Grouped by Sort parameters operate per folder. If you set Grouped by Sort by date in your inbox, it should not be applied to any of your other folders. Also, when you switch back and forth between folders, the Grouped by Sort state that you have set should be retained.
Threaded Versus Unthreaded
These are two ways you can view your mail. In unthreaded mode, your mail simply shows as a long laundry list, with the messages rendered in the mail thread pane in the order they were received or sent. If you elect to show your mail in threaded mode, the messages are arranged by subject and sender (similar to who has responded to whom so that you can follow the flow of a conversation, or thread).
The File menu option View | Thread allows you to expand or collapse your threads, as well as some other options, to tweak your mail threading preferences. Happy threading!