Troubleshooting Mozilla Thunderbird Incoming E-Mail Problems

Troubleshooting connection problems with an e-mail client, such as the freebie Mozilla Thunderbird e-mail program can be frustrating and tricky. If you are having problems retrieving your e-mail or getting it configured correctly, don’t give up. Most solutions are pretty simple. In this article we cover some of the more common connection issues you might find when using Thunderbird.

Most e-mail addresses today use the POP3 (Post Office Protocol 3) Internet protocol for receiving e-mail. With POP3 your e-mail is held on a mail server. You can download your mail to an e-mail client. Typically, the e-mail is deleted from the server when it is downloaded, but it can be set up to retain the e-mail messages.

An alternative Internet mail protocol is IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol). IMAP provides some enhanced capabilities and is useful for dealing with large volumes of mail that may need to be organized. Most hosing companies today use POP3. If you are not sure about your situation, ask the ISP or hosting company. The e-mail documentation they provide will usually tell you which protocol you are working with.

Most of the configuration issues with receiving e-mail can be resolved in the Server Settings section for each e-mail address in Thunderbird. Each e-mail address is configured separately.

  1. Select Account Settings from the Tools menu.
  2. Select Server Settings under the e-mail address you wish to troubleshoot.

The section that you want is at the top of the right-hand side.

If anything in this section is incorrect, you will not be able to download your e-mail. After making each change, click the OK button on this screen, close Thunderbird, re-open Thunderbird, and try to download your e-mail messages once again. If you do not have detailed instructions from your ISP or hosting company, this is a trial-and-error process.

The first thing to check is the Server Name. This identifies your mail server. You will need to get this information from your hosting company or ISP. Most mail servers are identified by using a subdomain preceding the domain name, such as Some use other subdomain names, such as Once again, the only way to know is to find out how your mail server is configured.

Next, check the User Name. Sometimes this is the entire e-mail address and sometimes is is just the account name, which is the portion of the e-mail address to the left of the @ sign.

The third item to test is the Security Settings. Most mail servers do not use a secure connection, so Never would be checked. I’ve seen a few that use TLS (Transport Layer Security), which is a type of secure connection. If Never didn’t work, try TLS, if available. There are also a few e-mail servers that use SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) for secure connections. Secure connections encypt the messages as they are downloaded, which prevents others from intercepting your messages. I have an AT&T e-mail account that requires SSL. When you click the SSL radio button, the port number will change.

You can also try checking the Use Secure Authentication box, but thus far I have never had to do that when setting up an e-mail account.

There is a very small possibility that your ISP or hosting company is using a non-standard port. Thunderbird does allow you to change the port, but you should never do that unless instructed to do so by your ISP or hosting company. If the port is wrong, you will not make the proper server connection.

If none of this works, make sure that you do indeed have an active Internet connection. If your browser can access the Internet, you should be able to retrieve your e-mail.

By now your problems receiving e-mail should have been resolved. Most of the time when I’ve run into issues setting up new e-mail accounts in Thunderbird, the issue was an incorrect User Name or Security Setting. Remember to save the settings each time you make a change by clicking the OK button. It is also best if you shut down and restart Thunderbird to make sure that your changes are reloaded. After that, test it again.

If you are using Symantec’s Norton products and either incoming or outgoing e-mail mysteriously ceases to function with Thunderbird, try rebooting your PC to see if that resolves the issue. See Norton May Be Disabling E-Mail for more information.


  1. sijumon says

    One of my friends send a mail to me.But the mail I recieved in a corrupted format (some tables and attachments were missing) while my other friends recieved in the correct format. He tried to send the mail two three times but still the problem persists. What will be the actual reason?

  2. TE says

    It sounds to me like the message and attachments could be getting corrupted during your ISP’s spam filtering. I have seen large attachments become corrupted consistently with some ISPs.

    It is possible to have a problem with attachments with Thunderbird because Thunderbird does not store attachments as separate files. Attachments are embedded into the stored message. If there are any unusual formatting codes or characters in the attachments, it is possible that Thunderbird could not deal with them correctly. I have never seen a problem like that, but it is possible. You did not mention whether your friends are also using Thunderbird.

  3. George says

    Hello, Thanks for the article. My problem is that I have about 15 e-mails that keep coming up from 2006. I delete and trash them but they stay in my system and come back every few weeks. Any suggestions. Thanks. G.T.C.

  4. TE says

    Hi George

    That’s a strange problem. I don’t have an answer as to why they keep appearing, but I may know why they are not being permanently deleted.

    Did you know that Thunderbird and many other e-mail clients never actually delete e-mails unless you take another step to remove them from the system? When you delete an e-mail, Thunderbird flags the e-mail so that it does not appear in your accounts. The e-mail still exists.

    Try this. After you delete the e-mails, run the Empty Trash and then the Compact Folders routine in the File menu. That removes the deleted e-mails from the system.

    Let us know if it works.

  5. Anne says


    I have had a Thunderbird free email account for a few years now. I did have some problems with incoming/outgoing mail, and this was resolved by a computer expert no longer available. No problems until today, however, as I am unable to access email. Not sure why.

    1. When I attempt to access mail, a box appears requesting my password. I provide the password.
    2. A new box appears reading: Sending of password did not succeed. Mail server ………responded: Login failed.
    3. Another box appears reading: Please enter a new password for user ……. on……. I create a new password.
    4. Message #2 is repeated.

    I did read through your information on incoming mail problems, and everything appears to check out as far as server info. I changed the Security Setting from Never to TLS with no luck. Can you suggest something further for me to do? Is this a bug of some kind, perhaps?


  6. TE says

    Hi Anne

    I assume you are talking about using the Thunderbird free e-mail client. Thunderbird doesn’t offer free e-mail accounts. :)

    What you are seeing appears to be a classic problem with a hosting company that has changed their mail server configuration or is experiencing a problem. I’ve see this happen dozens of times.

    The best thing you can do is to report the problem to your ISP. For some reason they almost always deny that there is a problem until they find it and fix it. Most of these problems mysteriously clear up in a few hour or a day. Make sure your account configurations are set back to the way that they were or to a new configuration if your hosting company acknowledges a change.

    You could also have a problem with a firewall on your PC that is blocking outgoing messages.

    I’ve worked with software systems for over 20 years. They just don’t stop working unless something has changed. The problem with e-mail clients is that they interact with multiple systems on your PC, with your hosting company’s e-mail server, with the recipient’s email server, etc.

  7. Anne says

    Thanks for your response. I’ll follow your directive and see what happens….. and yes, I am using the Thunderbird free email client.

  8. Allan says

    I cannot get Thunderbird’s Message Filters to delete unwanted e-mails from my POP3 server. The Filter Log tells me that e-mails have been deleted from my POP3 server, but they still arrive in Thunderbird’s Inbox.

    I have Thunderbird version, running on Windows XP Pro (SP2). I am able to delete unwanted e-mails from my POP3 server using Outlook Express, so I assume the problem is somewhere in Thunderbird.

    Any help is welcome. Thanks!

  9. TE says

    Hi Allan

    The Delete from POP Server feature in Thunderbird’s message filters does not seem to work very well. Theoretically, the filters merely filter spam and then either delete them or place them in a spam bucket that you designate. Filters strictly deal with incoming messages, which are not filtered after they are received.

    In order to delete messages on your server, check the settings for the Server Settings for each e-mail account. Go to Tools, Account Settings, then choose the Server Settings under an e-mail account. Make sure that the Leave Messages on Server box is unchecked. Do this for each account.

    If you have this box checked because you are trying to store messages on the mail server and only delete the spam messages, this setting may be overriding the Filter setting.

  10. Dave says


    I am trying to use Thunderbird to access my free yahoo mail. I used freePOPs to help do this. I don’t get any errors when I sign in, but it says there are no messages on the server. I am able to send messages though. Any idea why I can’t get my mail but I can send it? Thanks for the help.

  11. TE says

    Hi Dave

    I am not familiar with freePOPs, but is sounds like you are not connecting to the server properly. Inbound e-mail problems do not always give you an array of error messages like outbound e-mail does. It is common to see no error messages at all when a connection is not being made when trying to download e-mail messages.

    You may have to try different combinations of the Server Name, User Name and Security settings until you get it to work. One or more of these three is likely causing the problem.

    You might want to check out Yahoo’s page that deals with setting up POP3 accounts with Thunderbird. It gives you all of the configuration info. Can I POP my mail into a different email client (like Outlook or Thunderbird)?. From reading this, it sounds like you need a Yahoo Mail Plus account. The standard Yahoo Mail account does not offer POP access.

  12. Kathy says

    I have just bought an Asus EEE with Thunderbird. It has downloaded emails fine from Tiscali, but I can’t find the button to ask it to leave messages on the server when downloading. I can find the Server Settings page but nothing relevant on it.

    I would be really grateful if anyone can help!

  13. jim says

    Thunderbird has eaten some of my mail – one I didnt open, 6 i opened ( and printed)
    2 separate occasions… of course I cant tell if it’s eaten more than I know of.
    Could this be a virus? I looked in the trash-not there. THANKS

  14. Joe Hahn says

    Continue to get “Alert” message when trying to retrieve mail: “Unable to write the e-mail to the mailbox. Make sure the file system allows you write privileges, and you have enough disk space to copy the mail box.”

    I have no idea what this message means or how to correct it. I am at a loss.

  15. TE says

    Hi Joe

    It looks like you have a permissions problems. Did you recently restore Thunderbird files from a CD? Files and directories copied from a CD are flagged as Read Only and you cannot modify them or write to the directories until you remove the Read Only flag. If you didn’t restore files from a CD, then somehow your directory permissions changed.

    I assume you are working with Windows. You need to find your Thunderbird file directories (not the program directories). If you have not changed anything with Thunderbird, our changing Thunderbird’s file location article will help you to find it.

    Right-click on the main Thunderbird file directory and select Properties. Make sure read-only is unchecked and click OK. A Confirm Attribute Changes dialog box should pop up. Select “Apply changes to this folder, subfolders and files.” Click OK. That should clear up the permissions problem.

  16. Dick Koch says

    I cannot get large files via Mozilla Thunderbird., which blocks all other mail from coming in.
    Message comes up “incoming server timed out” I don’t find any place in account settings to change this. Any help appreciated. I have to go to verizon’s terrible mail program to delete that e-mail w/o reading or seeing attachment. so I can then receive the other mail.

  17. TE says

    Hi Dick

    You didn’t say whether or not you are on a high speed Internet connection. This type of problem is common with a dial-up connection. A slow connection can really bottleneck your downloads.

    The problem might be with your ISP. Many ISPs set a limit on the size of attachments that they allow and others limit the connection time.

    There is a place to set the connection timeout in Thunderbird. You might want to try changing it. It is buried and a little hard to find.

    Tools > Options (The Options dialog box should open)

    Select the Advanced tab

    Select the Network & Disk Space sub-tab (the sub-tab is easy to miss)

    The default connection timeout is 60 seconds. You might want to try doubling or tripling that number to see if it helps. Make sure that you shut down and restart Thunderbird before you test it.

    Another solutions might be to install a download manager Add-0n for Thunderbird called DownThemAll!

    I have not tried DownThemAll!, but it has a 5-star rating and the comments people have left make it look like the perfect solution for your issue.

    Let us know if either of these fixes the problem.

  18. Margaret says

    I’m having a half a problem. I get the message that my password failed, but only on incoming mail. I can mail OUT from that account (I have two running on Thunderbird, one with no problem at all, both on the same ISP) but not recieve mail.

    I get prompted for my password every time, but it gets rejected.

    any advice for me?

    Thanks in advance

  19. TE says

    Hi Margaret

    It is possible that you do not have your User Name set correctly. I think you can get the password prompt it either is incorrect. If the User Name is not set correctly, you might be trying to access a different account.

    Check the Server Settings under the account that is not working and compare it to the one that is working. Sometimes you have to use the account name with the domain name, as in, and sometimes you can just use the account name. Also check the Security Settings to see if they are the same.

    Something has to be different if one is working, but the other is not. You might also want to try deleting the password for the problem account and then check the box to save it when it prompts you for the password.

    Hope this helps.

  20. Wayno says

    I am having the same problem Joe had as described on Aug 28. I am on a Mac Book Pro. Thunderbird is set to Global Inbox. My local folders total over 5gb. I want to save my inbox,and upgrade TBird (im on 1.0.7) but I am worried if I create a new folder I will lose my last 2 years of messages. I have checked permissions and they all say I can “read and write”.

    When I try to retrieve new messages this pops up “Unable to write the e-mail to the mailbox. Make sure the file system allows you write privileges, and you have enough disk space to copy the mail box.” For 2-3 weeks prior I was getting an “unable to connect to the server” message although my messages would still come in. I also have an G5 and that is continuing to receive emails with no problem.

    Any suggestions? Thanks!

  21. Adrienne says

    I can receive new emails but when I go to open them, OLD emails show up in the veiwing box. It will headline the new one up above, then show the old one down below. It’s often ‘mails from last year, different ones. I went on help and tried what they suggested… into Inbox, then properties then clicked ‘rebuild Index’. It takes about 1/2 hour then brings back everything I’ve deleted for the last hour, BUT I can now read the new emails. THEN as soon as I get new emails, they got back to reading as OLD. So to read any new ones, I have to rebuild index every time. What can I do to fix this? It started after 9pm last night.

  22. Doogie says

    Hi Adrienne

    If it is taking that long to rebuild an index, you must have a massive number of old e-mails in the files.

    Thunderbird, and many other e-mail clients, never delete old e-mails unless you take special steps to clean out the old messages. The procedure is detailed on my Thunderbird Tips page. Thunderbird files can quickly become enormous because all attachments are embedded in the messages.

    To physically remove all of the old messages and attachments that you thought you had previously deleted, select File, Empty Trash. Then select File, Compact Folders. This deletes all of the messages flagged as deleted in the data files.

  23. jan says

    I am having intermittent problems with downloading email on Thunderbird. When I open Thunderbird, it says “downloading x no. messages” and the time bar runs for a short time and then disappears but still shows that it is downloading messages and nothing happens. If I go to my ISP box on the internet, look at my account, then reopen Thunderbird, most times it will download email normally.
    I have deleted and compacted folders, read suggestions above to set up accounts and have still had no joy. As the problem is only occasional, it is driving me nuts.
    Does anyone else have this problem and can you suggest a way of fixing it.

  24. Annie says


    Thunderbird threw a couple of new problems at me today. I’ve been working on correcting them all day and have read numerous posts here. I did go through all three of my email accounts on Thunderbird…all will receive mail, however, problem number one is:
    Suddenly, I am getting a SMTP error, therefore, mail cannot outgo.

    This error reads:
    Sending of message failed. The message could not be sent because connecting to SMTP server failed. The server may be unavailable or is refusing SMTP connections. Please verify that your STMP server setting is correct (I have changed nothing) and try again, or else contact your Network Administrator.

    This error occurs with all three Thunderbird accounts. However, incoming mail is not a problem, except…

    One of my accounts just began asking me for my password today. This account is not password protected. To be certain, I did go and ask for passwords to be displayed…this account does not contain a password. It is a new account that I set up just a few months ago and never put a password to it. Also, earlier this morning, before T-bird suddenly began asking for the non-existent password, this account was accepting email. Now that it is asking for the password, which I cannot provide a non-existent password, it will not display mail, therefore, I do not know if it is receiving mail. I did have the presence of mind when the SMTP error kept occurring, to move all inbox emails to another folder. Shortly after that, the password request occurred. Given that this account will no longer display email, I am grateful that, indeed, I did move the entire inbox.

    My questions are, how do I correct the SMTP error and how do I get T-bird to stop asking for a password on an email account that is not password protected?

    Also, my computer and my husband’s used to be networked together. He has recently relocated to another state. This is probably a dim-witted question, however, is it possible for our computers to still be networked together and therefore allowing him to tweak my email program?

    Thank you very much.


  25. Doogie says

    Hi Annie

    There isn’t any obvious answer to the SMTP issue. There are dozens of things that can cause that problem, but the chances are good that either something changed with your ISP or something, such as a firewall, is blocking the connection. This is a “poke and hope” troubleshooting issue where you just have to keep trying things until you discover what is causing the problem. Go over everything mentioned in this post again to see what works.

    This issue with the password may be a security issue. Passwords are normally required to access anything on a server. Why would you set up e-mail accounts with no passwords? It is a very fundamental security issue. Without a password, any junior level hacker can get into your e-mail accounts. Try adding passwords to the e-mail accounts and then use the passwords when Thunderbird requests it. It is not actually Thunderbird that requests the password. The password request comes from your e-mail server.

    I can’t give a definitive answer regarding ex-hubby being able to access your PC. It may depend upon how they were networked. If he is a different state and on a different ISP network, it would be very unlikely that he could access your PC.

  26. Plumbuddle says

    Hi, my problem has only just begun today. Thunderbird suddenly spewed forth all the incoming mail my computer had ever downloaded from my ISP server in May, i.e. over 1000 mails. All those before this month had long been deleted, and deleted from the delete box too. I began to re-delete the newly sent versions, but the more I deleted the more they simply returned! I have three copies of some of them. The whole thing is spiralling round and round. Is this something I can fix myself? Heartfelt thanks!

  27. Doogie says

    This is an unusual problem. There are two possibilities.

    1. The files are not being deleted on your server when you retrieve them. This could be a problem with your hosting company, or it could be a problem with your Thunderbird settings. Under the Server Settings for each e-mail account, make sure that the checkbox named “Leave messages on server” is NOT checked.

    2. Thunderbird (and most other e-mail clients) does not delete e-mails when you think you are deleting them. They just mark them as deleted and eliminate them from the list you are viewing. To eliminate the old e-mails that are marked as deleted, highlight an account name in the folder list, select Compact Folders from the File menu, then select Empty Trash. If you do not do this, all the thousands of spam messages that you thought you were deleting will stay with your PC forever. At some point the Thunderbird files get bloated and start acting strange. You need to compact the folders periodically to remove the old messages.

    If both of these methods fail to resolve you problem, then report it to you hosting company because something on the mail server may be preventing the old files from getting deleted.

  28. Irene says

    I have been getting email fine, but all of a sudden, I can’t receive mail from rogers through my Thunderbird anymore, and I can still send out email fine from Thunderbird. The error message that pops up is “The RETR did not succeed. Error retrieving a message. Mail server responded: problem retrieving message.”

    Does someone know what I can do to solve this? Meanwhile I check the setting for POP3 and see if there is any changes on rogers site, but can’t find anything that is different, and so I’m just using the rogers to check mail for now, but hope to fix it soon.

  29. Lee Flynn says

    Those who email me often get their message bounced back with reasons such as mailbox full but the messages are still sometimes delivered. The mail box is not full because the action is set to delete messages from server. I can’t be confident of getting or receiving emails. Can you help?

  30. Doogie says

    Hi Lee

    If people sending messages to you are getting them bounced back, the problem is with your server, and not with Thunderbird. You should talk to your hosting company about the issue. They can tell you if the mailbox is actually getting filled up.

    It is possible that the mail server is not working properly or the storage quota is set to low. Also ask your host about spam filtering on the mail server. Many spam filters reject e-mails.

    You can usually see any stored messages using the site’s webmail account. The storage quota can be increased in the control panel for your web site. At a minimum, the quota should be set at 10 meg. But that basically is one of two video attachments. Set it at 50 meg or look for an unlimited setting.

  31. andy says

    Andy says
    Thunderbird has been working fine until recently.Suddenly it can not download and process messages.When attempting to do so it freezes, at which point it will not allow you to read old messages either.Shutting it down,does not help because then it will not restart unless you reboot the computer.After reboot you can usually start Thunderbird and read old messages until you attempt to download new messages ,unless the are no messages on the server at which point you can still read old messages.Can anyone offer suggestions

  32. Doogie says

    Hi Andy

    What else changed on your PC recently? It sounds like you have a conflict with something recently installed on your PC, or a problem with a firewall or antivirus software that is blocking messages. The clue is the fact that it works fine when there are no messages to download. If you can temporarily disable your firewall and antivirus program (dangerous), you will be able to determine if they are causing the problem.

    It is also possible that a file is corrupted in your Thunderbird installation. You could try re-installing Thunderbird. At a minimum, make sure that you are running the current version using the update routine under the Help menu.

  33. andy says

    Hi Doogie
    I solved the problem,It was due to my storing waaay too many old emails in the inbox folder.AS a result the program folder must have been at or near capacity and the whole program froze instead of warning me as to the cause or dumping the old emails.So thanks for taking the time to figure out a cause, i should have told you I was a packrat,just imagine what my office would look like if these were all hardcopies.
    Thanks Andy

  34. Doogie says

    Hi Andy

    I didn’t think of that as a cause. I have no idea what the physical limit is for storage with Thunderbird. It uses text files for storage, so thousands of messages could bog it down. Also, Thunderbird embeds attachements in the stored message, so if you have a lot of video attachements, it could grind it to a halt.

    Thanks for sharing your solution. :)

  35. Steve says

    The other day my Thunderbird starting taking a long time to receive e-mails. Some came through quickly, but others took a long time. One in particular took over 3 hours to reach me. I cleaned up all my folders and checked my e-mail settings and everything seems to be okay. I thought i fixed the problem but it is still happening. Any idea what else I could try? Thanks

  36. Doogie says

    Hi Steve

    Did you remember to compact the folders after deleting messages? Remember that deleting a message does not erase it. It still exists until you compact the folders.

    Delayed messages can be caused by a number of different problems. You didn’t say whether it takes that long before a message was available for download, or if it takes a long time to actually download messages. The first problem is related to your e-mail server, which could be near storage capacity or could be overloaded. That is an ISP or hosting company issue. The second problem could be a connection speed issue, especially if the e-mails you receive have large attachments. Sometimes antivirus software can dramatically slow down received messages due to scanning, but a normal message should not take 3 hours to download. The problems sound like they are likely a communication speed problem with your ISP or an overloaded e-mail server. I have seen occasional problems with long download times with both AT&T and Cox, but they always deny that the problem is theirs. The worst e-mail problem I ever had were when I used an e-mail service provided by one of the major domain name registrars. Nonetheless, check with your ISP and e-mail service if the problem persists. The root of the problem is likely with whoever is hosting your e-mail address. Free e-mail addresses can be some of the worst to deal with.

  37. Steve says

    Thanks. Yes, I compacted the folders. I still have the problem. People who are in my address book send me e-mails and it takes a long time for some of them to get to me. Some of the e-mails have no attachments. I am using Thunderbird to access my Verizon mailbox.

  38. Doogie says

    Hi Steve

    You still have not indicated whether it is taking that long for messages to get to your Verizon mailbox, or if it is taking that long to download them once they have reached Verizon. You need to log into your e-mail account online to verify that messages are already there before you try to download them to Thunderbird.

    Problems like these almost always reside with your e-mail hosting service, which in this case is Verizon. You will very likely find that they will deny that the problem is on their end. That seems to be the standard answer from most hosting and e-mail services when it comes to e-mail problems. I find that I always get denials, even after I prove beyond any reasonable doubt that the problems is on their end.

    When you are dealing with large companies, you are probably not dealing with a technician when you call Tech Support. These are mostly low-level customer support people with very limited technical skills. Sometimes you have to escalate the problem to a technician. I see this all the time with Cox.

  39. Rocco says


    I was reading some of the issues above and mine is one of them… I have an incoming mail issue with Mac’s Mail application… keeps asking for password… says “server rejected password…” I KNOW my password is correct, and I know all my settings are correct. I even downloaded Thunderbird and put my email account in that application and it’s doing the exact same thing… My ISP is Cox on the west coast… I called them and they worked with me for a while and finally gave up and said it was a mac issue.

    Reading what you wrote above in response to Anne, you said that the ISP probably has a problem with their server… well, it’s been almost 2 days now and I’m still getting the same error… my webmail works fine for this account by the way.

    Any help you can give would be very appreciated.



  40. Doogie says

    Hi Rocco

    It is either a communication problem with your Mac or your password or settings are incorrect. Your Mac could be preventing the e-mail from downloading. Sometimes configuration problems are very subtle. The fact that two programs will not download e-mail tells me that the problem is likely on your end–and probably a configuration issue.

    I would not fully trust the Cox people. They are frequently wrong when I have to contact them with a problem.

  41. John Perkins says

    I installed Thunderbird 2.0021 for two accounts. I can send and receive mail on one POP account and send on another. However, on that account it says host contacted, sending log in informaton… Then nothing. No error message. No download. I have checked server information, password, etc. I have MacFee firewall but Thunderbird has complete access. Also have AVG anti virus. Any help would be appreciated.

  42. Allen says

    My wife said she received an email, using the free Thunderbird client, that was dated June 2nd (21 days ago). I went directly into the google mail webmail account and found the message. I then expanded the header to trace the dates. It had indeed arrived to the google web mail on time. Yet, Thunderbird just downloaded it today. All other messages were received fine. We are using the setting – always use https. Our computer is an iMac G4. The only thing that has changed is that, last night, I replaced a defective router (2Wire 2701HG with all firewall settings on replaced by a Motorola 3347).

  43. Doogie says

    Hi Allen

    This is not a Thunderbird problem. All an e-mail client does is connect to a mail server and download whatever the mail server passes to it. What is curious is the fact that the message was still at Gmail AFTER you downloaded it. That means that you are not allowing the server to delete the messages after you download them. Do you have a setting in Thunderbird or at Gmail to prevent downloaded emails from being deleted? In Thunderbird, that is in Account Settings > Server Settings > Leave messages on server.

    The e-mail probably got hung up on the Gmail server, or it was previously downloaded and your wife did not notice it, or it got snagged by a spam filter. A secure connection has nothing to do with it. All that does is encrypt the message as it is downloaded. A router is just a device in the connection path. It would not cause a lone e-mail to fail to download.

    If everything happened the way you think it did, I would point the finger at Gmail. A flag on the message file could have been set wrong or the message could have hung up in Gmail’s spam filters. I suspect the spam filters.

  44. Helen says


    I have problem to download my emails but i have no problem to send emails out.

    When I open thunderbird then enter password. At the bottom left corner show that it is downloading but the emails do not show up inbox. I try to click get mail again and it said that this folder is being processed. Please wait until processing is complete to get messages.

    So what went wrong there?? I had no problem in past then I was away on vacation. When I got back, I was unable to get them download to inbox. I use webmail to keep mails going.

    Thank you for your help.


  45. Doogie says

    Hi Helen

    I see that problem pretty regularly when connecting to my main ISP. I do not see it with others, which leads me to believe that the problem is with Cox. It may be that their mail servers are busy. Since Thunderbird is already connected, the issue is one of downloading the messages from your ISP’s server.

    When you see that problem, try shutting Thunderbird down, wait about 20 seconds for the memory to clear, and then open Thunderbird and try it again. If it still does not work, contact tech support at your ISP. Something may have changed on their end.

  46. Ann says

    Since yesterday every time I delete my emails they come back again. I empty the trash then compact the file but it doesn’t help.

  47. Doogie says

    Hi Ann

    You did not mention whether they are not getting deleted or they are being downloaded again. I suspect the messages are being retained on the mail server and are being downloaded each time you check for messages.

    Check the Server Settings screen for each e-mail account and see if “Leave messages on server” is checked. It should not be checked.

  48. Edda R. says

    Having a vexing problem with receiving email from compuserve via Thunderbird. No problem sending.

    Error message from account information not available.

    Password works everywhere else. Wonder what am I doing wrong!

  49. Doogie says

    Hi Edda

    It appears that the CompuServe cannot find the account you are trying to access. Double check the port and the security settings to make sure they are correct. When I set up a new account and cannot send e-mail, the first thing I do is to turn on SSL encryption. Some mail servers require it.

    If you cannot find the problem, call the CompuServe tech support.

  50. Henk says

    Hi Doogie,

    I hope you’re still reading this thread, being started in 2007 already :)

    I’m having trouble downloading the emails from two of the five accounts I have set up in Thunderbird.
    The five accounts all use the same provider, and identical server settings, apart from the user/password ofcourse. Two of these accounts do not retrieve the new emails, without any (visual) error messages. When I log on to those two accounts using the providers webmail, I see the new and unread messages sitting in the Inbox, just waiting for Thunderbird to collect them. When I let my GMail account collect the mail from these accounts, they DO get downloaded to GMail. The other three accounts work perfectly from Thunderbird and also GMail.
    Can you think of any problem or a way to troubleshoot this in Thunderbird?

    Thanks in advance

  51. Doogie says

    Hi Henk

    It is unusual that you do not get an error message stating that Thunderbird cannot connect to the server. It is almost impossible to figure out what is going on without any error messages. It kind of sounds like Thunderbird is connecting to your accounts, but not downloading the messages.

    Does the status bar tell you that is retrieving messages, or does it say, “There are no new messages on the server”? Watch the status bar at the lower left section of the display. It can give you additional information that may help.

    Double-check and triple-check all of the settings for those two accounts.

    Due to the large number of strange problems that some users have with Thunderbird, you might want to download and install the new 3.0 version from the site. I haven’t installed it yet, but some people who have told me that it is a big improvement.

  52. Henk says

    Hi Doogie,

    Thanks for your suggestions. I’m already using 3.0 and I’m sure that Thunderbird *can* connect to the server; the other accounts using the same server, DO retrieve the emails; when I mistype my user/pass, I DO get error messages. Also, the credentials work when I log in to the provider’s webmail.

    I’ve double checked- and later on recreated- the accounts and kept all default settings, but alas no improvement. There is no message at all where I normally see the ‘retrieving mail x from y’ (right bottom), on the left I see stuff like ‘connecting to’ and that disappears (left bottom)

    It’s a really strange problem, thanks for your input on trying to solve this issue. I’m leaving Thunderbird behind and I’m going to look out for another program. Oh, where’s Outlook Express when you need it :)

    Thanks again!

  53. Vestal says

    Some of my emails do not have any text in the message body.

    The text is in the message while it is on my server, but when it is transfered to Thunderbird the text doesn’t make it.

    Any thoughts?

  54. Doogie says

    Hi Vestal

    Are you sure that the message is missing and not just “not displaying” because of an issue with the text message versus HTML message settings? Take a closer look at one of the messages and use View > Message Source to view the message code. Scroll through the code to see if the body text is included in the code. If it is, try changing the View > Message Body As setting to see if the message body appears.

    Is the problem related to e-mails coming primarily from one source? If it is, there could be some non-standard HTML code in the messages.

  55. Vestal says

    Thanks for the reply Doogie,

    Yes the message body was in Message Source. I still couldn’t see the message after changing the settings in View>Message Body.

    The e-mails were from two different people, both using G-mail.

    Thanks again


  56. Cathy says

    Hey, I have all of the sudden started having problems with my Thunderbird e-mail. Every time i try to send and e-mail I get a sending message failed error. Mail server responded not our customer, please check message recipients and try again. it does this on every e-mail I try to send regardless of where to. I can go to my mail and send it through and it goes no problem. I’m thinking that somehow something got checked in Thunderbird inadvertently to make this start happening, but have no idea what or how or where to look. I hope you can help, it is driving me crazy!

  57. Doogie says

    Hi Cathy

    Try this page: Thunderbird Outgoing E-Mail problems

    I have never seen the type of messages that you describe. It sounds like the e-mail addresses for your recipients are using an invalid format. Check to make sure that the addresses you are sending message to are correct.

    Next, check the SMTP configuration.

  58. Mara says

    Hi there!
    I hope someone can help me. I’ve been using Thunderbird for… a very long time, and have never had any problem until today It sends, but does not download incoming emails. And I know there are some as I have been able to get them thru another account. …

  59. Doogie says

    Hi Mara

    Unfortunately, you did not give us any useful information about the problem.

    Read through all of the comments.

    Try rebooting your PC. I have found that Norton AntiVirus sometimes blocks e-mails after it automatically does a virus definition update.

    Check with your ISP to see if they are experiencing problems. If rebooting the PC does not work, this is most likely the issue.

  60. Kelly says

    Hi there,

    Thunderbird has worked really well for nearly a year… then it would, every now and then, not download my emails, usually when that happened I would simply hit the get mail button again and it would be fine. Then it began to take a lengthy amount of time to get the emails (we’re talking like one email at least 5 minutes) then suddenly it no longer would download anything at all.

    What typically happens is this: get mail button, password everything fine. Then it will appear to begin to download the emails… but it won’t actually do it… it will just run and run and run until finally an alert pops up that says ‘timed out’ but by the time that happens you’ve already guessed that you weren’t going to be getting the mail.

    I can send messages no problem.

    I guess what I really need to know is whether this is a thunderbird problem, an internet problem, an email server problem, or a computer problem… or some really fanciful and horrifying combination.


  61. Doogie says

    Hi Kelly

    Make sure that you read all of the comments above. It is impossible to tell exactly what the problem is based upon the indications received from Thunderbird. It can be any one of a dozen different issues.

    If you are receiving the request for the password, then Thunderbird is connecting with the mail server. It sounds like something on your PC is preventing the messages from downloading. I have seen problems with Norton, but given the number of viruses out there, I would not recommend that you disable Norton (if you use it). From what I have seen, Norton sometimes tends to cause Thunderbird to hang after it does an automatic virus definition update. If you think that may be the problem, you need to reboot the PC and then try to download your e-mails again. That always works for me. It is possible that Norton and possibly other anti-virus programs need to be restarted after downloading virus definitions in order for them to properly protect your PC from malicious viruses.

    You may have to keep trying different things until something works. Each time you change a configuration in Thunderbird, you need to shut it down, restart it, and then test it again