Setting up Thunderbird with conversations and snooze

I’ve gone through what feels like every email program out there in the last 6 months with increasing levels of frustration. I’ve found lots of programs that look slick and help me get thru my email faster and even prioritize things but have annoying to horrifying features like

  • randomly and silently fail to send or save emails
  • 30+ crashes a day after about 2 weeks of use and a $70 yearly pricetag
  • selling everything about my inbox to anyone who asks
  • making it impossible to change the font size
  • storing my login credentials to all my email accounts with god-knows-what-security on their own servers
  • garbage search (Newton was particularly awful in this regard. It can only search the last 2 weeks of messages and doesn’t tell you)
  • business models that amount to trying to get bought out by Google
  • fails at multiple accounts
  • only works with gmail
  • looks like instant messaging
  • groups by person instead of subject
  • can’t snooze emails
  • inability to edit drafts

I started my tour of email programs with Thunderbird because I like that the Mozilla foundation doesn’t sell user info as a business model, it’s open source and old and so has lots of documentation and online help, and is customizable through extensions. Surprisingly I couldn’t find an extension that did email snoozing, so I gave up and tried all those terrible other email programs.

It turns out that I should have tried harder to find extensions that did what I needed because, in the end, Thunderbird is what I’ve come back to.

Snoozing in Thunderbird

At the height of my email despair, someone clued me in about mailmindr. It’s not the most intuitive to set up and is somewhat roughly translated from German, but after the initial fiddling, it works just like I want – I click the “Add Reminder” button, choose an amount of time to disappear a message from my inbox, and then I don’t see it again until the time is up.

To get messages to disappear from your inbox until you want to deal with them, you have to change the settings in the Inbox Zero tab of the mailmindr preferences and tell mailmindr what folder you want to hide messages in while they’re snoozing. I creatively called this folder “Later.”

A separate window with a list of emails that it’s time to revisit will pop up by default. I didn’t like this behavior, but you can deactivate it by unchecking the “Show list of pending resubmissions” option. (Snoozed emails in mailmindr are called “resubmissions”)

Mailmindr is actually a quite flexible and powerful message reminder tool and snoozing messages is just a part of what it can do. If you need stuff moved around or marked or labelled in your inbox with time-based rules, mailmindr might be able to do it for you.

Conversations in Thunderbird

I prefer my messages grouped in conversations, which Thunderbird doesn’t do by default. Thunderbird Conversations works well for this. It’s important to remember to turn on View -> Sort By -> Threaded to get your inbox organized properly.

This extension unfortunately hides the “Add Reminder” button from mailmindr. You can still snooze your emails though! Either

  • right click an email or its subject and choose “Set resubmission”
  • get the add reminder button back by clicking the three dots in the corner of an email and choosing “view using the classic reader”

If you don’t like how Thunderbird looks, it has many, many themes to choose from. I like Monterail Dark.

I like to pay amounts I can afford for tools I use regularly. Thunderbird has easy donation and subscription options as does mailmindr.