Archived entries for Tech Support Tips

Two Thunderbird Tips: Remove Duplicate Messages and Change Reply Headers

There are two tweaks I made to my Mozilla Thunderbird client in the last two days.

By default, Thunderbird places “Joe Smith wrote:” at the top of your message when you reply. I’d prefer to have a date stamp there toom like “on 5/12/2006 10:03 AM Joe Smith said the following:”. Firefox is a great browser and Thunderbird is a great email client for more reasons than extensibility, but extensibility sure is nice. The change is nearly-trivial in Thunderbird by modifing the User.js file in your Thunderbird profiles folder, and restarting Thunderbird (not your computer). How? Change Your Thunderbird Response Header

Another nice extensibility feature is Mozilla’s Extensions system which Thunderbird also shares wth Firefox. Returning from another time zone the other day, my POP server got confused and sent me all my recent messages again. Which stinks, because I ended up with about 1800 duplicate messages filtered and spread throughout my inbox folder structure. In the past I’ve just accepted that fate, but this time I looked for an extension.

Sure enough, the perfect tool for removing duplicate messages exists. One tip: switch which message (older or newer) is discarded, lest you delete your metadata (read, flagged) along with the older message. By default it seems to keep newer, but I’d recommend switching that. Aside from that, it’s a blazing fast tool that without fuss does exactly what it advertises.


Mozilla Thunderbird Maintenance

I’ve been using Mozilla Thunderbird as my exclusive desktop mail client at home and work for the last six or eight months. It’s been a perfectly capable and full-feature mail client, it’s not part of the Microsoft monopoly, and I like supporting Mozilla.

Several weeks ago though, my home instance started having problem. The indicator was that the Inbox count (the number of messages) was incorrect, and would often rapidly increase to a huge and incorrect number (200,000+ sometimes). Additionally, checking mail found sometimes fail, and the status bar would display incorrect or irrelevant information.

I did a little research and learned that I should be (have been) compacting my folders regularily to prevent mailbox corruption. To do so, highlight a folder or account, and go File > Compact Folders. Check out How to compact folders in Mozilla Thunderbird for all the details.

I tried several times to compact the folders, but either the process would fail or, if compeleted, wouldn’t fix the program. I concluded after research that this indicated the my mailbox data files had become corrupt. The mail data was OK, but the index, or table of contents of that data was corrupt.

Lukily, Thunderbird can easily create a new index file (foo.msf, for Mail Summary File), and will do so automatically if it finds the file missing. After locating my Profile Folder, I deleted all the .msf files that were causing problems. (Actually ALL of ‘em, just to be safe.) There’s a .msf for each of your mail folders, so your number of .msf files will vary — I had a few dozen.

(To be safe, cut-and-paste a copy of your Profile Folder to a safe location before mucking around in your profile.)

With the bad files out of the system, I booted Thunderbird back up and watched as it rebuilt each index file. Problem solved. It’s been working perfectly since.

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