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Configuring and Using Thunderbird in Linux

Installing the Thunderbird Email Client

Once you've set up a email account, you can simply log into it via your browser. This, however, is a little tiresome, so most Linux distros normally ship with a default email client: for Mint and Puppy, this is Mozilla's Thunderbird. However, you can install Thunderbird on any Linux distro - and in this article, we will use Fedora as an example.

The best way to install Thunderbird is to search for it in your Software Centre. In Fedora, type the string "thunderbird" into the Fedora Add/Remove Software application and click "Find". Once located, select the components you need and then click the "Apply" button in the bottom right hand corner:

Thunderbird in Fedora SC

You will need to enter the administrator password to confirm the installation. The packages will then be downloaded and installed, with the progress shown in the bottom left corner of the window:

Installing Thunderbird

Once completed, a dialogue box will open up, allowing you to exit or to run the application:

Thunderbird installed


Configuring the Thunderbird Email Client

Configuring Thunderbird is basically a case of starting it up for the first time and selecting your preferences: in most cases, Thunderbird will do the rest (-assuming your email provider is one of the popular ones anyway). In this section, we shall be using a account from gmail as an example.

To start Thunderbird, simply click on it's icon:

Thunderbird Icon

The Thunderbird window will start: on the main page, click on the "Create New Account" link:

Thunderbird Create New Account link

A dialogue box will open up:

Thunderbird New Account Dialogue

Input the following:

  • Your Name : a label to refer to this account by
  • Email Address : the email account you set up (-i.e. myaccount@myprovider.com)
  • Password : the password to the above email account

Make sure the "Remember password" checkbox is checked, then click "Continue":

Thunderbird New Account Dialogue - filled in

Thunderbird will attempt to look up the settings for your email provider (-here, it would be for gmail) and display them to you:

Note: we recommend you select the "POP3" option, so messages are copied down and stored on your PC, so you can access messages offline

Thunderbird New Account Settings

If this all looks good, click the "Create Account" button to apply the new account configuration.


Reading Email using the Thunderbird Client

To read email messages using Thunderbird, click on the desired account in the left hand navbar - or on the "Read messages" link on the main screen:

Thunderbird navbar

To begin with, the likelihood is that no messages will be listed: to download messages from the email server, click on the "Get Mail" button, just underneath the menu bar:

Thunderbird Get Mail button

Thunderbird will then attempt to connect to the email server, using the account and password you entered in the step above, and will copy any messages down to your PC - listing them in the main window. In the example above, three emails are shown: just click on the message and it will be displayed in a new window:

Open email in Thunderbird


Sending Email using the Thunderbird Client

To send an email message using Thunderbird, click on the desired account in the left hand navbar - then click the "Write" button, just below the menu bar (-to the right of the "Get Mail" button). You can also click on the "Write a new message" link on the main screen. A new window will open up, allowing you to compose a new email:

Thunderbird Send Message window

Once completed, click on the "Send" button to transmit the email - Thunderbird will then attempt to connect to the email server, using the account and password you entered above, and will copy any messages up to the email gateway to send it to the recipient:

Thunderbird sending email


Exiting the Thunderbird Client

To quit Thunderbird, use the menu option:

File → Quit

Evolution Wizard Restore


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