Access Keys:
Skip to content (Access Key - 0)

Thunderbird Message Filters

Added by LAURA NICOLE MASSARO KAUFFMAN , last edited by LAURA NICOLE MASSARO KAUFFMAN on Sep 30, 2009 13:18


Thunderbird Message Filters

Like other email clients, Thunderbird has message filters, or rules, which sort your mail when it comes to your inbox or automate other work you may want to do with your mail.

#top

Adding or Editing a Message Filter

  1. In Thunderbird, go to Tools→Message Filters... and the Message Filters window will appear.
  2. Under the Filters for drop-down menu, select the email account you are filtering.
    • To add a message filter, click the New... button.  
    • To edit an existing message filter, select the filter and click the Edit... button. 
  3. You will see a Filter Rules dialog.  Give your filter a descriptive Filter Name. (For example, if you are filtering all of your Penn State Web Conference-related messages to one folder, you can name the filter PSU Web Conference.)
  4. Under For incoming messages that, supply a set of conditions. For example:
    • To match all messages that have "Web Conference" in the Subject line, set the first drop-down menu to Subject, set the middle drop-down menu to Contains, and enter Web Conference in the text field.  (Keep in mind that Thunderbird's filters are not case-sensitive, so you do not need to create multiple versions of this filter for uppercase and lowercase variations.)
    • To match all messages that have "Web Conference" in the body of the message, set the first drop-down menu to Body, set the middle drop-down menu to Contains, and enter Web Conference in the text field.
    • To match all messages that have been sent to the Web Conference Attendees listserv, set the first drop-down menu to To, set the middle drop-down menu to Contains, and paste the listserv address in the text field.
      Icon

      To create a filter based on a sender's email address, open a message from the sender, right-click on the sender's email address message header, and choose Create filter from message. The Filter Rules dialog will appear with some pre-filled information!

  5. If a message must meet all of the conditions for it to be filtered, select Match all of the following radio button.  Otherwise, select Match any of the following.
  6. Under Preform these actions, select the steps you would like Thunderbird to take with messages that meet the criteria you set.  For example:
    • To move a message to a folder called PSUWeb2009, set the first drop-down menu to Move Message to and the second drop-down menu to PSUWeb2009. (Note that if you rename this folder later Thunderbird will update this filter for you.)
    • To automatically forward the message to another email account, set the first drop-down menu to Forward Message to and enter the email address where you'd like to send the message.
    • To automatically delete, set the first drop-down menu to Delete.
      Icon

      You can perform many actions, such as marking and tagging messages, automatically replying, setting junk status, etc. To see what is possible, look at the options in the drop-down menu.

  7. Once you have set your conditions and actions for the filter, click OK.


Icon

You don't have to wait until new mail comes in to test your filters:

  1. In the Message Filters window, select any filter.
  2. Go to the Run selected filters on drop-down menu and select a mailbox.
  3. Then click the Run button.  Your filter will run on the mailbox (and all subfolders) you select.


#top

Troubleshooting Your Message Filters

Sometimes one filter may conflict with another based on the order in which it runs. If you find your filters are not running the way you expected them.

  1. In Thunderbird, go to Tools→Message Filters... and the Message Filters window will appear.
  2. Under the Filters for drop-down menu, select the email account you are filtering.
    • Try one of the following and click the Run selected filters on ... button to test:
    • Edit the filter's action to Add Star.  (This way you do not move or delete messages until you are sure the filter catches exactly the messages you want.  Once you are sure the correct messages are starred, change the action back to the one you want.)
    • Temporarily disable a filter by unchecking it.  (If you find the filter is not causing a problem, you can enable it again by checking it.)
    • Reorder the filters with the Move Up and Move Down arrows.  This will change which filters are applied first.
    • As a last resort, if you are certain you no longer want a particular filter, you may permanently delete it with the Delete button.  A dialog box will as you to confirm this choice.
Icon

If you are still afraid to test your filters on your entire Inbox, you can run them on just one folder by selecting a folder in Thunderbird and going to Tools→Run Filters on Folder.

#top

Thunderbird Message Filter Import/Export

If you have the Thunderbird client installed on more than one machine, or you want to back-up your filters, you may want to find and install the Thunderbird Message Filter Import/Export Add-on.

#top

Exporting Filters with Thunderbird Message Filter Import/Export

  1. In Thunderbird, go to Tools→Message Filters... and the Message Filters window will appear.
  2.  
  1. Go to Tools→Message Filters... and your Message Filters window will appear.
  2. Click your new Export Filters button.
  3. Select a location and Save your filters.  Your filters will be saved as a plain text file that you can import into Thunderbird client that also has Thunderbird Message Filter Import/Export Add-on.

#top

Importing Filters with Thunderbird Message Filter Import/Export

  1. Go to Tools→Import Filters and an Import Message Filters window will appear.
  2. In the Choose Account drop-down menu, select the account for which you want to use the filters and click Import.
  3. Browse to your filters file and click Open. (Hint: Your filters file should be a plain text file that was exported from a Thunderbird Message Filter Import/Export Add-on.)
    Icon

    After importing, you may want to check your filters and edit any filters that direct messages to folders that don't exist.

    #top