How to customize Thunderbird with CustomizeMyBird

If you like to tinker with your apps and find the Thunderbird email client lacking, there's an add-on to help.

How to customize Thunderbird with CustomizeMyBird

The Thunderbird email client allows you to easily manage your email whether you're at your desk or at a remote location with your laptop. For most user types, Thunderbird has enough built-in customizations. Some users, on the other hand, might find the open source email client to lack in that arena.

For those familiar with the major offering from Mozilla (aka Firefox), you know there's a handy tool called about:config. That tool gives users access to a ton of customizations for the web browser. Unfortunately, the email client doesn't offer users the ability to type about:config in an address bar to access such preferences. However, with an easy-to-use add-on, you can gain access to something very similar. That add-on is called CustomizeMyBird.

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This Thunderbird add-on gets you access to customizing features like:

  • Tabs (switch between default tabs and classic squared tabs, custom height, custom border roundness, hide Lightning buttons, switch positions)
  • Main menubar (above/below tabs toolbar, compact view, Aero blue colors, compact view)
  • Window header (custom colors)
  • Toolbars (default colors / Aero blue colors)
  • Scrollbar (hide, custom transparency/colors, size)
  • Statusbar (hide status bar)
  • Quick-filter-bar (move below mail list)
  • User-customized CSS code
  • And much, much more

Yes, the options available to the add-on are all about appearance, but the developer has done a great job of including appearance options that can actually help make your Thunderbird experience more efficient and very personalized.

If you're intrigued, let's install.


The installation is very simple. Here's how to make this happen:

  1. Open Thunderbird.
  2. Click on the Menu button in the top right corner of Thunderbird.
  3. Click Add-ons | Add-ons.
  4. In the Up & Coming section, click See All.
  5. Type CustomizeMyBird in the search bar.
  6. Click Add to Thunderbird.
  7. When prompted, click Install.
  8. Allow the installation to complete.


Once installed, click the Thunderbird Menu button and click Add-ons | CustomizeMyBird. In the resulting window (Figure A), you can start scrolling through the available options to customize your Thunderbird experience to perfectly fit your tastes/needs.

Figure A

Figure A

The CustomizeMyBird window.

Some of the available options allow you to go back to an older look and feel for Thunderbird or compact the views of certain features. For those who prefer the old ways of the email client, or tend to like a more sleek interface you'll be glad to see these options.

Many of the options available are enable/disable, or drop-down selections. Some, on the other hand, are user-defined percentages or sizes (in pixels). The best thing for you to do is go through all of the options and test what you like and what you don't.

One suggestion

You will very quickly grow tired of clicking back and forth between the CustomizeMyBird tab and the main Thunderbird tab (to view the changes). There's a better way:

  1. Open Thunderbird.
  2. Open the CustomizeMyBird tab.
  3. Click and drag the CustomizeMyBird tab out of the Thunderbird window (in similar fashion to dragging a Firefox tab out to create a new window).

With CustomizeMyBird in its own window, you can go through the changes (with the windows side-by-side) and view the customizations as they happen (as all options change and are saved instantly).

Not a deal maker

CustomizeMyBird isn't a deal maker or breaker. It is, however, a real boon for those who prefer to dig in and tinker with their apps. If that sounds like you, you'll probably get plenty of mileage out of this handy Thunderbird add-on.

Also see

Image: Mozilla