Thunderbird Tip: Make E-Mail Replies Start at the Top

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Last week I mentioned that I've been evaluating Mozilla Thunderbird as a potential replacement for Microsoft Outlook, which I currently use for e-mail (among other things).

I was rather dumbfounded to learn that Thunderbird doesn't mark a message as read when you reply to it (though thankfully there's a plug-in that solves this glitch).

It turns out Thunderbird has another forehead-smacking oddity when it comes to e-mail replies: it puts your cursor at the bottom of the quoted text, not the top.

It's an unwritten law that when you reply to an e-mail, quoted text (i.e. the message you received) goes below the new text (i.e. the message you're composing).

How did Mozilla not get the memo on that?

Fortunately, there's a fix built right into the program--no plug-in required. Do this:

1. Start Thunderbird.

2. Click Tools, Account Settings.

3. Click Composition & Addressing, which looks like this:

4. Click that first pull-down menu, then choose start my reply above the quote.

5. If you have multiple e-mail accounts, repeat steps 3 and 4 for each one.

6. Click OK and you're done.

In that second pull-down menu, "and place my signature," you might also want to choose below my reply (above the quote), so your signature stays with your reply. (That's assuming you've configured your signature to appear in replies, which is considered bad form by some.)

I must admit, Thunderbird isn't winning me over with rookie mistakes like these. Think I'm being too hard on the program, or do you agree it needs some tweaking?

Contributing Editor Rick Broida writes about business and consumer technology. Ask for help with your PC hassles at, or try the treasure trove of helpful folks in the PC World Community Forums. Sign up to have theHassle-Free PC newsletter e-mailed to you each week.

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