Desktop email clients make it easy to manage email. They allow you to access and manage your email right from your desktop and eliminate the need to open a web browser every time you need to view or send an email.
Linux has several desktop email clients that you can use. However, Mozilla Thunderbird stands out among them due to its extensive feature set and ease of use.
If you’re considering switching to Thunderbird, or have used it before and recently switched to Linux, here’s how to install, configure, and use Thunderbird on Linux.
How to Install Thunderbird Mail on Linux
Mozilla Thunderbird is available on all major Linux distributions. It comes pre-installed with Ubuntu and its derivatives, so if you are using any of these distributions on your machine, you can skip this section.
However, if you are using any other distribution on your computer, you can install Mozilla Thunderbird with a few simple commands.
On RHEL/CentOS/Fedora, open a terminal and run this command to install Mozilla Thunderbird:
sudo yum install thunderbird
If you are using Arch Linux use:
sudo pacman -S thunderbird
openSUSE users can install Thunderbird by running:
sudo zypper install thunderbird
If you are using any other Linux distribution, you can install Mozilla Thunderbird via Snap. But first, run this command in a terminal to make sure you have Snap on your computer:
If you see a version number, it means you have Snap installed on your system. Otherwise it doesn’t and you need to install Snap first. Follow our Snap guide to find out how.
Once installed, run the following command to install Thunderbird using Snap:
sudo snap install thunderbird
Mozilla Thunderbird: first run on Linux
Once you’ve installed Thunderbird Mail on your Linux computer, open the application menu and launch the program from there.
Since this is the first time Thunderbird is running, you will see the main Thunderbird Mail window with the account setup page open in a new tab. You can sign in to an existing account or create a new one using this tab.
Set up an existing email account in Thunderbird
If you already have an account with an email service provider, you can set it up in Thunderbird Mail manually or automatically.
To do this automatically, start by filling in the text fields on the Set Up an Existing Address page and click Continue.
Then choose a configuration type between IMAP and POP3 and click Finish. IMAP is the best option for most people who need standard email management.
Thunderbird will then give you a pop-up asking you to sign in to your email provider. Enter your email address and password here to log into your email account. Click the Done button to complete the email setup in Thunderbird Mail and it will redirect you to a new window with all your emails and folders.
Alternatively, if your email provider is not listed in Thunderbird’s automatic setup list, you can set up your Thunderbird account manually. To do this, after completing the entries on the “Setting up an existing email address” page, click the “Manually set up” button at the bottom.
Now go to your service provider’s website to find the manual configuration options and fill them in on the Thunderbird setup page.
Finally, click Finish. All is ready. Check out our guide on setting up Gmail and Exchange email accounts in Thunderbird to learn more.
Create a new email account in Thunderbird Mail
If you do not have an email service provider account, you can create one in the Thunderbird email client.
In the Account Setup window, click the Get a New Email Address button below the Email Address field. Then, in the “Welcome to Thunderbird” window, enter your name or alias with which you want to create an email address and click “Search”.
Thunderbird will now offer you several email address recommendations in Mailfence Secure Email and gandi.net, both of which are Mozilla subscription providers that help users register new email accounts through Thunderbird.
Click on the email address you like and it will direct you to the registration page to complete the account creation process.
Fill in the fields here and click Register. When asked for a backup email address for recovery purposes, enter it and you should have a new account.
How to use Thunderbird on Linux
Once you have finished installing and setting up your Mozilla Thunderbird email account, there are a few things you can do.
1. Email access and management
Thunderbird stores all your emails in different folders. Just click on a folder to view all of its emails.
To open an email, double click on it and Thunderbird will open it in a new tab. From here, you can archive mail, add it to your address book, compose a reply to it, forward it, or simply delete it using the action keys available on the toolbar. In addition, you can also use tags to better manage and organize your emails.
2. Create a new email
If you want to email someone, click the Write button on the toolbar to open the compose window. Fill in the From, To, and Subject fields as appropriate, and fill in the body with your message. To add an attachment, click the Attach button, select the appropriate attachment type, and upload the file.
Finally, click the Send button to send the email.
3. Set Thunderbird as your default email client.
If you plan to use Thunderbird for all your future email communications, you will need to set it as the default email client on your computer.
To do this, click on the Thunderbird menu and select “Settings”. Scroll down to the “System Integration” section and make sure “Always check if Thunderbird is the default email client at startup” is unchecked.
4. Add More Accounts to Thunderbird
One of the benefits of using a desktop client like Mozilla Thunderbird is the ability to add and manage multiple email services at the same time. To add a new account, click the Thunderbird menu and select Account Settings.
Here, click on the “Account Actions” drop-down button and select “Add Mail Account” to open the Account Setup Wizard. Fill out the form again as you did during the initial setup and follow the on-screen instructions to complete adding your account.
5. Install upgrades
If you want to extend the functionality of Thunderbird or customize its user interface, you can do so using Thunderbird add-ons. To do this, click on the Thunderbird menu and select Add-ons and Themes. Click the Find more add-ons button to open the gallery of add-ons.
Find the add-on or theme you want to add to Thunderbird and click the Add to Thunderbird button. Wait a few seconds and it should show up in your client.
What else can you do with the Thunderbird email client?
As mentioned earlier, you can use Mozilla Thunderbird for a lot more than just sending and receiving emails. So you can use it to chat (Google Talk, IRC, XMPP), read RSS feeds, and join newsgroups for discussion, all with one program.
If you’re used to Thunderbird’s webmail interface, thanks to its flexibility, you can make Thunderbird look like webmail in a few simple steps.
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