Thunderbird

 By Shamus Apr 28, 2006 14 comments

The most common popup I see on my computer is this one:

I use Mozilla Thunderbird for email, and whenever I have a lot of mail, I get this stupid, pointless, useless, unhelpful, needless, infuriating popup every five seconds or so while the mail comes in. It stops doing everything, including talking to the mail server, while it waits for me to hit ok. This means if I walk away the connection to the mail server will be lost.

So, I have to babysit the program while it checks my email by clicking on this popup over and over until I get all my mail.

I’ve been using Mozilla for about three years, and it has always had this “feature”. I have the latest version, and still nobody has gotten around to fixing this. I have no idea what the popup means. I have three email accounts, but each one has its own inbox and there is no reason they should interfere with each other.

It’s almost annoying enough to make me think of using Outlook again. Good greif.

1414 comments. (Fourteen is the sum of the first three squares.)


  1. retinaburn says:

    What kind of filters and rules are you applying to your incoming mail? I have been using thunderbird off and on since it was available, and have never run into this popup, even with a few rules in place.

  2. Shamus says:

    No filters. I have 3 accounts, each of which goes into its own inbox.

    I notice that this usually only happens in the morning, when all three accounts are downloading the email (spam) from overnight. It happens a little during the day, but rarely.

    I did a search on the dialog text, and other people have complained about this in the Thunderbird forums (or some forums, I just went where google took me) but nobody has ever gotten an answer. It’s bizzare and (I’m sure you’ve gathered) _really_ annoying.

    And odd that such a bug has survived for three years.

  3. Shamus says:

    I should add: I DO have the spam filter going, which means I do have a filter. But, I don’t have any message rules.

  4. foobario says:

    I don’t use Thunderbird, and I about had an aneurysm when I looked at my screen and saw that popup box. It took me a second to realize it was a pic on your page, and not my laptop losing its frickin mind.

    Maybe you should forward me that Xanax spam.

  5. Pixy Misa says:

    Aha. I have multiple mail accounts, but they go to different folders. That’s why it hasn’t happened to me.

    Outlook only downloads from one account at a time, so it doesn’t exhibit that sort of behavior. (Try messing with the folders while it’s downloading, though, and it won’t be too happy.)

    The threading behaviour in both Thunderbird and Firefox is inherited from Mozilla, and it is utter crap. The main reason I jumped ship from Mozilla was that it at least separated the threading screwups of the Mail/News client from the threading screwups of the Web client. (I speak as someone who has been developing multi-threaded applications for 18 years. Indeed, “crap” is probably been overly kind.)

  6. I moved to web-based mail a while ago – gmail and Yahoo mail plus (I pay the annual fee). It just removed 99% of my email hassles.

  7. DVS says:

    It sounds like Steven may have sent you private advice. If not, then my experience matches that of Pixy Misa, and implies that perhaps you can fix the problem by setting all the mail accounts to dump into the same folder and THEN have rules in place to segregate the mail from that folder, based on which account they are addressed to.

  8. Shamus says:

    Everyone: Thanks for the advice and information.

  9. Roxysteve says:

    Late to the Table Department.

    I use Outlook (the full-mojo, all-bell, all-whistle, 537 tabs-in-the-properties-window, eight-new-vulnerabilities-a-month vesrsion) and I can state unequivocally that it DOES happen when one has anything like a comprehensive rules cascade to sort out the acres of dross that pipe into one’s inbox when connecting to the internet thingy.

    It also happens on my work computer which runs XP, but not on the one that runs clunky ol’ win2k. Gofigga.

    Speaking as a sometime developer of user interfaces, I say “death to meaningless messages in any context, and to the people who program them into the software you use”. That could do with punching up a bit, but then again, so could the e-mail software programmers.

    Steve.

  10. Ermel says:

    I don’t use Thunderbird, and I about had an aneurysm when I looked at my screen and saw that popup box. It took me a second to realize it was a pic on your page, and not my laptop losing its frickin mind.

    This sort of thing never, ever happened to me. It sure helps to have a weird taste for mustard-coloured window headers. :-)

  11. FlameKiller says:

    wat you need is one of those bobing bird desk toys. you place it so it taps the enter button so the popup is foiled and you can go do something else.

    i give this idea from Dilbert. the popup will be crying “Damn your perpetual bobing Bird!!!!”

  12. Bryan says:

    No, what you *need* is to turn off the “automatically compact folders when it will save XXX KB of space” option. (It’s in the options dialog, at least in current Thunderbird versions. Under Advanced -> Network & Disk Space -> “Compact folders when it will save over XXX KB”.) :-)

    Or at least, after I turned that option off several years ago, I stopped getting those errors. Yes, it was a huge PITA, and Thunderbird should probably just fix their automatic compact routine to run *after* the mail is downloaded instead of while it’s being downloaded, but if that doesn’t get fixed, this should help.

    (Of course, it does mean your folders will never be compacted. You can do it manually, of course, but if you don’t do it, they’ll start to get enormous. It would really help if someone would just write the code to do the automatic compacting *after* mail is downloaded, instead of right at startup. (Duh.) I bet there’s no way to do the compacting while mail is being downloaded — the entire folder is a single file on disk — which is why the message box is there.)

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