Thunderbird Tips: IMAP Subscriptions, Email Replies

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Recently I shared a Thunderbird tip on how to mark a message as read when you reply. See, I'm test-driving Thunderbird as a potential replacement for Microsoft Outlook. It's getting the job done, but I occasionally find myself grumbling about settings that should be easy to find--but aren't.

For example, I'm using Thunderbird as the mail client for a handful of Gmail accounts, all of which are configured for IMAP. (If you're not familiar with that concept, read "Use Gmail IMAP with Your Desktop E-Mail Client.")

Just one problem: Nowhere in the account settings or options menus or anywhere else can I find a way to choose which IMAP folders I want to subscribe to.

Sure, Thunderbird pulled in all the basic ones--Inbox, Drafts, Trash, etc.--when I set up the accounts, but there are other folders (i.e. labels, to use Gmail parlance) I want to access.

Turns out the setting is almost hiding in plain sight:

  1. In the left-hand column, find the account you want to modify. (In my case, it would be
  2. Right-click that account (i.e. the e-mail address, though you can also right-click the Inbox), then choose Subscribe.
  3. Presto! You'll see your complete IMAP folder list. Check the ones you want to subscribe to, and uncheck the ones you don't want.
  4. Click OK and you're done.

I really shouldn't complain about Thunderbird's scattered settings, as Outlook is often much worse. But I do find it irksome that such a basic option can't be found alongside all the other e-mail account settings.

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

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

Fortunately, there's a fix built right into the program:

  1. Start Thunderbird.
  2. Select Tools, Account Settings.
  3. Select Composition & Addressing.
  4. Select the 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.)

If you've got a hassle that needs solving, send it my way. I can't promise a response, but I'll definitely read every e-mail I get--and do my best to address at least some of them in the PCWorld Hassle-Free PC blog. My 411: You can also sign up to have the Hassle-Free PC newsletter e-mailed to you each week.

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