Betterbird: Expert Tips
Betterbird is really a Swiss army knife for mail processing. Here are some tips from our project manager to make your experience even better.
New Messages - Activity Manager
Out of the box, when Betterbird starts, it will show you the number of new unread messages and their folders.
If you have many folders an filters, the Activity Manager is also a nice tool to show you to which folders messages were moved. Betterbird opens the Activity Manager in a tab, so it doesn't get in the way. We suggest to keep it always open.
Multi-line view included since September 2021
Many people have asked us to finally implement a multi-line view, so we're happy to announce that this is now included in Betterbird. In Betterbird 102 there are three options:
- View > Layout > Multi-line View On All Folders: Once you enable this option, all folders will show in multi-line view. This switches the subject column off for all folders which are displayed while the option is in effect.
- View > Layout > Multi-line View Via Subject Column: With this option, to switch on multi-line view for a folder, deselect the subject column for the particular folder in the column picker of the message list/thread pane. Selecting the subject column again switches off multi-line view for the folder.
- View > Layout > No Multi-line View: No folder will show in multi-line view. This switches the subject column on for all folders which are displayed while the option is in effect, hence undoing any individual settings made with the second option.
In Betterbird 115 this has been reduced to the first option View > Layout > Multi-line View On All Folders.
Switching the option off also switches multi-line view off for all folders. Multi-line view is only working when the view
has been switched to "Table View" in the Message List Header. It is not functional in "Cards View":
Betterbird 115 always displays a minimised subject column. This can be used for sorting. The subject column
must be placed before the column with which the subject is to be aligned in the second line:
Overall, in version 115 the multi-line view looks a little different, as can be seen here.
As of September 2022 we're shipping language packs for the languages we support. Betterbird language packs are specially made for Betterbird to cover its additional functionality. Thunderbird language packs are not compatible with Betterbird. They can't be installed and are are automatically disabled. Language switching after installing Betterbird language packs is available in the user interface provided in the settings.
On Windows, you can place your custom program icon and your custom icon for the "new mail" notification into C:\Program Files\Betterbird\chrome\icons\default\messengerWindow.ico and C:\Program Files\Betterbird\chrome\icons\default\newmail.ico (assuming the standard installation location).
Here are a few icons to chose from but you can find lots of icon files online. We've included the original icons
for you to inspect and modify:
The result looks like this:
Of course you can always configure your desktop shortcuts via the "Change Icon" function.
On Linux, the icons used for the system tray are betterbird/chrome/icons/default/default.svg and betterbird/chrome/icons/default/newmail.svg. Depending on your desktop, other icons are taken from betterbird/chrome/icons/default/default*.png (or /usr/share/icons/hicolor/*/apps).
On Windows and Linux Betterbird also uses msgcomposeWindow for the compose window as well as calendar-alarm-dialog for calendar alarms and calendar-general-dialog for other calendar dialogues as ICO or PNG files. These icons are fixed and will be overwritten with each install. This functionality ships completely in version 102.11.1.
You can base your own design on these SVG files:
System Tray support (Windows and Linux)
The following is supported:
|OS / Desktop
|System tray always
|Tooltip with folder list
|Minimize to tray
|Linux / KDE
|Linux / Gnome
|Linux / Cinnamon
|Linux / Mate
|Linux / Xfce
(*) For Gnome you need to install the "AppIndicator and KStatusNotifierItem Support" extension. Double-click to activate.
(**) The Mate desktop is supported from BB 115.3.1-bb14 build after 2 October 2023.
- System tray: mail.biff.show_tray_icon (has UI)
- System tray always: mail.biff.show_tray_icon_always (no UI)
- Minimize to tray: mail.minimizeToTray (has UI)
- Linux only: mail.minimizeToTray.supportedDesktops ("kde,gnome,xfce,mate") and mail.minimizeToTray.desktopsGtkWindowPresentWithTime (special activation, "mate") (no UI)
- Start minimized: mail.startupMinimized (no UI)
- Windows only: Show count in taskbar badge: mail.biff.show_badge (has UI)
- Show new count: mail.biff.use_new_count_in_badge (has UI)
- Only count unread message in inboxes: mail.notification.count.inbox_only (no UI)
Threaded view must be turned on to perform threading operations. Rethreading is possible only for a single message at a time. Rethreading is possible in multi-folder views (saved search), but only for messages in the same folder. Rethreading is not possible for a message to a parent with an identical Message-ID. Rethreading is not possible in search view or Gloda list view. If threading an ancestor message to a descendant, best practice is to unthread the ancestor first, then thread to the descendant; this avoids superfluous references.
- Mouse: drag and drop message to a new parent.
- Keyboard: select a message; Ctrl+t to enter ReThread Mode; arrow up/down to select a new parent; Ctrl+t again to drop the original message onto the new parent.
To unthread (a message is no longer a thread child nor a thread parent nor a thread root)
- Keyboard: select a message; Ctrl+t; Ctrl+x.
To reset (return message to its original thread state, ie. original headers)
- Keyboard: select a message; Ctrl+t; Ctrl+z.
To exit ReThread Mode with no action
- Mouse: start another drag & drop operation.
- Keyboard: ESC key.
There are thousands of add-ons available for Thunderbird which will work 100% the same in Betterbird. Here are the ones we use:
ThunderHTMLedit - great to fine-tune the sometimes erratic HTML the editor produces.
Quick Folder Move Classic - great add-on to find a folder quickly (Shift+G) or move messages (Shift+M).
Shrunked Image Resizer - essential for resizing images before sending. The new maintainer has improved it a lot, PNGs and BMPs can also be resized now.
Signature Switch - great to administer multiple signatures.
Lightning Calendar Tabs - let's you move through the calendar quicker.
Dictionary for recipient - if you write in different languages, store the language you want to use in the address book.
Sender Frequency - adds a column to the message list that lets you determine quickly you writes to you (or spams you) most.
A word of caution: with add-ons, less is more. Don't overload your system with too many add-ons. Some are poorly maintained or potentially not compatible with the latest application version. Check when the last update was made and handle with care if it's more than a year ago. Actively maintained add-ons will ship updates regularly. We think it's best to find the best add-ons that support your workflow and stick with them.
You can modify the CSS used for the display of the UI by adding a chrome/userChrome.css file to your profile. Use Help > More Troubleshooting Information, select about:profile to locate your profile. You need to set preference toolkit.legacyUserProfileCustomizations.stylesheets to true for changes to take effect. We are using this file (for Betterbird 102), striping ahead. For Betterbird 115 you can use this file. This is work-in-progress.
We're not great friends of customising everything, but this simple theme has stuck with us over the years.
You know that there will be dragons if you mess around too much with preferences, but here is a list of a few useful ones to explore:
|Preference, Betterbird only
|How frequently to check for updates. Set to zero to suppress check.
|Gloda search results: 0: Facet view, 1: Facet view and list view, 2: List view only.
|Configure address display for mail sender (From): 1 = name, 2 = e-mail, 3 = both
|Configure address display for mail recipient (Recipient): 1 = name, 2 = e-mail, 3 = both
|Suppress biff notifications for server root folders
|Allows for attachments to be opened writeable when set to false
|Settings for feed sounds
|Delay before expanding folder on hover
|Store the original message in the trash when editing headers or rethreading (115.8.1)
|Allows more headers to be edited. Use * for all headers. JSON syntax(!) (115.8.1)
|Show current message content not message summaries when multiple messages are selected
|Allow display of PGP encrypted attachments with missing MDC
|Limit messages sent per SMTP connection
|Minimise window after startup
|Colour the full row when using folder colours
|Set to 3 to enable access to Outlook address book (will cause slower startup)
|Show system tray icon when true
|Always show tray icon, even if no unread/new mail
|True/false: Show count of unread/new messages in tray icon
|When false, conditional CSS (media queries) won't be discarded
|When true, text attachments are shown inline (recommended)
|When collapsed thread is selected, copy/move/delete all messages in thread
|When true (default), overrides the Reply-To header (careful, religious war hiding here)
|When true, forces Quoted Printable encoding
|0: no date, 1: short date, 2: long date, 4: weekday
|Set to 4 to get "weekday, time" display (recommended)
|0: no date, 1: short date, 2: long date, 4: weekday
|New folders/views are created unthreaded (0) or threaded (1)
|Displays the sender's timezone in the header pane
|Enables "View > Message Body As > All Body Parts"
|List of prefixes that will be treated like Re. Recommended for German: AW,Aw,aw
|When true (default), checks all identities in "reply to self"
|When false, plaintext won't be flowed (not recommended!)
|Line length used for wrapping, 0 = no wrapping
|Enables userChrome.css when true
|Controls UI animation, 1 = no animation