Archive for the ‘Add-Ons’ Category

Note: Republishing from The FF Extension Guru’s Blog

One of the neat features of Thunderbird is the ability to customize the client with Extensions, Themes and Plug-Ins. But sometimes there are problems a theme does something funky to your browser. Or may be an extension goes haywire and gets corrupted. There are so many possibilities of what could be the problem. If you have a lot of extensions installed, it is hassle to list them all.

Whenever anyone posts on Go Firefox! a more advanced problem they are having the first thing I recommend they do is install the InfoLister extension. In a matter of seconds the extensions generates a report with loads of information:

* The build/version of Thunderbird and your OS
* Complete list and a total number of extensions (including enabled & disabled)
* Listing of all the themes installed and which one is currently in use
* Simplified listing (compared to about:plugins) of the all installed plug-ins

With this information it is very easy for me to see if the user is running an outdated extensions, a problematic theme, a troublesome (Yahoo!) or missing plug-in. Below is the results when I run InfoLister on this profile…

Last updated: Thu, 09 Apr 2009 21:53:03 GMT
User Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 6.0; en-US; rv:1.9.1b4pre) Gecko/20090406 Shredder/3.0b3pre

Extensions (enabled: 8, disabled: 0):

Themes (1):

Plugins (12):

  • Adobe Acrobat
  • Google Update
  • iTunes Application Detector
  • Java(TM) Platform SE 6 U12
  • Java(TM) Platform SE 6 U13
  • QuickTime Plug-in 7.6
  • RealNetworks Rhapsody Player Engine
  • RealPlayer Version Plugin
  • RealPlayer(tm) G2 LiveConnect-Enabled Plug-In (32-bit)
  • Shockwave Flash
  • Shockwave for Director
  • Windows Presentation Foundation



Back in the beginning of March, I wrote about the Signature Switch add-on in the TBird Signatures|Signature Switch post. It wasn’t until I went to post about this wonderful extension in Thunderbird Help, that I realized I didn’t include any screen-shots. So, here are some screen shots (click images for full-size view):

Switch between your list of signatures via the Signature button on the compose window

Signature Switch Options

Set/Edit Signature

TBird Signatures|Signature Switch

Posted: March 1, 2009 in Add-Ons

I have tried unsuccessfully for quite a while to have a background image in my TBird message signatures. Never really made sense why it would not work as the file looked fine in my HTML editor. Sure, I could add them into each message by going to Format >> Page Color and Backgrounds but that is a bit of pain to do each time I go to compose a message. I have just gone without having background images in my signature.

A couple days ago I came across the article 10 must-have Thunderbird Addons (+ 25 more) which Gareon had posted over at Go Firefox!. One of the add-ons mentioned was Signature Switch. This add-on allows you to create and manage multiple email signatures, thus getting around Thunderbird’s default limit of one saved signature per email account. With Signature Switch, you can have as many signatures as you want and easily access and insert into any message you compose either through the selector or assigned hot-keys. Another nice feature is you can edit your signature right in Thunderbird (via notepad or any user-specified text-editor). So I was playing with the editor, trying to figure out what I was doing wrong with the background image. I was coding the background as such:

<body style=”background-image: url(;”>

Which as I stated earlier, displayed the background on my signature ‘page’ just fine when viewed on the web. So I did a Google Search for ‘background images Thunderbird signatures‘ after a couple unrelated results I came across the article: Thunderbird Email Signatures Background Problem Solved on Combat Wombat. Turns out Thunderbird over-writes the body tag when composing a message thus wiping out the background image. Combat Wombat discovered that re-writing the coding for the background image in CSS solved the problem. So I now have coded the background image in CSS as such:


BODY { background-image:url(’’);background-repeat:repeat-y; background-color:#ffffff; font-family:Arial, Helvetica,sans-serif;color:#000000;}


Success! Well, sort of…by default the regular HTML <body style=”background-image:> tag will tile or ‘repeat’ the background image to fill the screen. I quickly learned this is not true with CSS. Having done very little coding in CSS I went over to W3 Schools and looked up the ‘background-repeat‘ property. The sample code on Combat Wombat had used the ‘background-repeat’ property with the value of ‘no-repeat’ which only displays the image once. A simple change of the value to ‘repeat-y’ and now my background image filled the whole message.

A couple final points. This add-on has a toolbar icon that you can add to your compose/reply/forward windows. Simply right-click on an empty section of the toolbar and select ‘Customize…’ and look for the Signature button. One odd quirk I discovered the first time I went to send a message was Thunderbird spell checks the CSS coding. Once I added all the ‘mis-spelled’ words within in the coding into the dictionary, I was able to get around this.

Signature Switch is about 93 KB and works with TBird 0.7 up to 3.0b1 (but can be forced to work with 3.0b2 and 3.0b3pre versions with the Nightly Tester Tools add-on).

A bit of major announcement in regards to Lightning (Calendar) and the upcoming Thunderbird 3. From David Ascher’s (CEO, Mozilla Messaging) Blog:

For some time, we (the Thunderbird release-drivers) have been exploring how to best integrate calendar functionality into Thunderbird.  Time for an update.

The current plan is to work with the Lightning Add-on community to make a version of it available as an add-on to Thunderbird 3 after we ship later this year.  This is a change from our initial plan of integrating all of Lightning into Thunderbird by default.

While there are several reasons for this decision, these two standout the most:

  1. we try to avoid feature changes in between major releases, and limit minor updates to security fixes.  This would mean that feature changes to Lightning would have to wait for the next major release of Thunderbird.
  2. …we recognize that different users need different kinds of calendaring solutions.  Just as there are more and more messaging systems, there is a growing diversity in calendar usage models, such as web calendars, stand alone clients, and calendar and event applications on social networking platforms

To put #1 in perspective, consider if AdBlock Plus and NoScript (two of the most popular and frequently updated Firefox add-ons) were standard parts of Firefox. If this were the case, any feature changes to these add-ons would have to wait to be implemented into the next major release of Firefox. In regards to #2 I know some individuals who did not want to see Lightning to be an integrated part of Thunderbird 3, complaining it would make TBird too much like Microsoft Outlook.

While the majority of Firefox add-ons install automatically when you go to install the add-on, some don’t always. Further, Thunderbird doesn’t even have the functionality to do an automatic add-on install. So in those cases you have to download the add-on, find it on your computer, open Firefox’s or Thunderbird’s Add-Ons Manager window and then drag the file into the window to install. There is an easier way, both Firefox and Thunderbird have an ‘Install’ Button on their add-on managers, but by default it is turned off. To turn the button on requires a very simple tweak in the program’s about:config file.


  • Download and Install the About:Config extension
  • Click the about:config button
  • Look for preference app.update.showInstalledUI
  • Double click it to change it to false

The ‘install’ button allows you to browser your computer to locate the add-on you want to install. Keep in mind is always best to get your add-ons through whenever possible as these add-ons already have undergone a review process before made available and updates are served through a secure connection. Also, since it is already whitelisted you don’t need to grant further access to other web sites.

Source: Mozilla Links

ThunderBrowser has a new site: also check out the ThunderBlog.

In the Installing Add-ons in TBird entry, I put together a very comprehensive step-by-step list to install add-ons. All along I was think ‘there has to be a simpler way to do this.’  Well, there is according to this comment from CHR:

As far as I know, one could still drag & drop the extension from firefox to the thunderbird add-ons manager window to install the extensions right away.

Okay it cain’t be that simple, can it? Well I decided I would test this out and install Lightning (which I am still having trouble saving events/to-do tasks) via this method. So I found the add-on in the Thunderbird section of AOM and dragged the Install Now link from the green box into Thunderbird add-ons manager window.  At first nothing happened then a few seconds later the usual install dialog popped up.  I went through the steps and installed Lightning and then restarted Thunderbird.  Once I restarted there was Lightning installed and ready to go.  Now if someone can tell me what the heck I am doing wrong when trying to add tasks or events I’ll be able to do a write-up on the add-on.