Sunday, July 2, 2017

Default Sorting and Threading in Thunderbird

I've recently set up Thunderbird at work for my email.  I was a long time console email user starting first with elm, then pine, the mutt, then pine again, then mailx, then mutt again.  Eventually I started using gmail and since we use that at work as well, the web interface became the path to least resistance.  But I've never really liked it.

Perhaps I've grown to a point where I don't find setting up mutt and maintaining a stack of support programs fun anymore.  Or maybe it's that when I find I need to slightly change something, I have to dig around online for a long time trying to figure out one obscure setting.  But I really think it's the searching archived mail that has caused to favor the web email client and now Thunderbird.

As I iron out the kinks with having my email in Thunderbird, I've collected some notes on how to change behavior for some things.  First on my list was getting it to sort email the way I prefer and thread messages correctly.  I found I could change this for each folder for an IMAP account, but the settings didn't seem to stick consistently.  Thunderbird offered no obvious default, so I poked around online and found that you can change the defaults via the config editor.

This is similar to the about:config editor in Firefox.  Access it through the Preferences dialog though.  There's a button for Config Editor.  The usual warning stops you, but proceed on.  Here are the changes I made:
  • By default, I want all IMAP folders polled for new messages, not just the Inbox.  Set mail.check_all_imap_folders_for_new to true.
  • I'm not sure what the default sort type is for mailnews, but everyone online seems to insist that having it set to 18 is what you want.  So I changed mailnews.default_sort_type to 18 (technically I didn't because it was already 18).
  • I prefer email messages to be sorted by date in descending order, so I changed mailnews.default_sort_order to 2.
  • I prefer email messages to always show threaded conversations, so I changed mailnews.default_view_flags to 1.
Now any other accounts I add will behave this same way.  I still have some other settings I want to tweak, but this is what I've done so far.

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