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Thunderbird is Mozilla's solution to the e-mail client.

Earlybird is the "unbranded" version of Thunderbird. It can be enabled when the bindist is set.


USE flags

USE flags for mail-client/thunderbird Thunderbird Mail Client

X Add support for X11
clang Use Clang compiler instead of GCC
dbus Enable dbus support for anything that needs it (gpsd, gnomemeeting, etc)
debug Enable extra debug codepaths, like asserts and extra output. If you want to get meaningful backtraces see
eme-free Disable EME (DRM plugin) capability at build time
hardened Activate default security enhancements for toolchain (gcc, glibc, binutils)
hwaccel Force-enable hardware-accelerated rendering (Mozilla bug 594876)
jack Add support for the JACK Audio Connection Kit
libproxy Enable libproxy support
lto Enable Link-Time Optimization (LTO) to optimize the build
openh264 Use media-libs/openh264 for H.264 support instead of downloading binary blob from Mozilla at runtime
pgo Add support for profile-guided optimization using gcc-4.5, for faster binaries. This option will double the compile time.
pulseaudio Add sound server support via media-libs/libpulse (may be PulseAudio or Pipewire, or apulse if installed)
selinux !!internal use only!! Security Enhanced Linux support, this must be set by the selinux profile or breakage will occur
sndio Enable support for the media-sound/sndio backend
system-av1 Use the system-wide media-libs/dav1d and media-libs/libaom library instead of bundled.
system-harfbuzz Use the system-wide media-libs/harfbuzz and media-gfx/graphite2 instead of bundled.
system-icu Use the system-wide dev-libs/icu instead of bundled.
system-jpeg Use the system-wide media-libs/libjpeg-turbo instead of bundled.
system-libevent Use the system-wide dev-libs/libevent instead of bundled.
system-librnp Use system-wide dev-util/librnp instead of bundled one.
system-libvpx Use the system-wide media-libs/libvpx instead of bundled.
system-png Use the system-wide media-libs/libpng instead of bundled (requires APNG patches)
system-python-libs Use system's python site instead of bundled python libraries
system-webp Use the system-wide media-libs/libwebp instead of bundled.
wayland Enable dev-libs/wayland backend
wifi Enable necko-wifi for NetworkManager integration, and access point MAC address scanning for better precision with opt-in geolocation services


root #emerge --ask mail-client/thunderbird

Emerging Thunderbird is a long process, a pre-compiled (binary) version exists for users who want a shorter install time:

root #emerge --ask mail-client/thunderbird-bin

Note that behavior of the pre-compiled version may be different in many ways including the choice of default applications for URLs.


XDG integration

To ensure Thunderbird is being used by other applications as the default application for handling mailto: links, run:

user $xdg-mime default thunderbird.desktop x-scheme-handler/mailto

Global search

See forum post: thunderbird not indexation for global search


Keyboard shortcuts

Thunderbird has a variety of keyboard shortcuts built-in. A full listing can be viewed on the Thunderbird support page.

Mail notification sound

Mail notification sound needs a sound theme to work, see bug #617566.

Instant messaging

Thunderbird supports instant messaging and chat using IRC, XMPP, and Twitter. Instructions for configuration can be found on the instant message and chat support page.

Calendar function

Thunderbird has a build in calendar function called lightning.


Filter rules can be configured within Thunderbird to short or apply rules to incoming or outgoing messages. For mail accounts which are subscribed to many mailing lists, or which receive a lot of mail from known sending addresses, filter rules enable a tidy inbox. As of 2023-06-26, Thunderbird v102.12.0 has no way to exclusively export filter rule sets from one system to another. See the Backing up or moving filter rules section for details on recreating rule sets when using Thunderbird on multiple devices.

Unfortunately, there are known bugs regarding filter rules which prevent certain rules from automatically applying as expected. To work around, the user can manually trigger the rule on the appropriate folder as necessary.

Backing up or moving filter rules

Filter rules are stored in a file entitled msgFilterRules.dat, which is located under the ~/.thunderbird/<Profile name>/ directory on Linux systems. When wishing to backup filter rules or copy them to another Thunderbird client, this file will need located. Follow the below steps:

  1. Locate the profile directory for the relevant mail account. With Thunderbird open:
    • Open the Menu Bar toolbar > Tools > Export > Open profile folder link
    • Select: Help > More Troubleshooting Information > Under Application Basics located the Profile Directory row, and click Open Directory.
  2. Either of the above steps should a file browser window showing contents of profile name folder. This should be under the ~/.thunderbird/<Profile name>/ directory as noted above.
  3. Close all running instances of Thunderbird. This ensures all files are written (synced) into the profile directory.
  4. Locate the msgFilterRules.dat by drilling into directories until it is discovered, or by opening a shell within the profile directory and running the following command:
    • user $find . -name 'msgFilterRules.dat'
  5. Once discovered, move this file to the backup location and/or into the profile using the same mail account on another device.

See also

External resources