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Reading Mail
Moving Messages
Composing Messages
Deleting Messages

Reading Mail

To read your messages, click on your Inbox in the Folders pane (left-hand side). Your messages will appear in the Mailbox pane on the right. Single-click a message to view it in the Preview Pane (just below the Mailbox Pane), or double-click a message to open it in a new window.

Moving Messages

There are a few ways to move a message from your Inbox to another folder. The easiest way is by clicking and dragging. Click on a message, and while holding down the mouse button, drag the message from the Message pane into the destination folder in the Folder pane.

If clicking and dragging isn't your style, here's an alternative way to move a message into a folder.

  1. Control-click on the message that you wish to move.
  2. Hover your mouse over Move to...
  3. Hover your mouse over your account name.
  4. Hover your mouse over Inbox.
  5. Locate and select the desired folder. Voila! The message will disappear from your Inbox and reappear in the folder you just selected.

Composing Messages

To compose a new message, click on the Write button in the top menu bar. A composition window will pop up.

Thunderbird Composition Window

Enter your recipients in the To: field. As you begin typing the name of the recipient, Thunderbird will pop up a list of possible recipients - these names are pulled from the Reed directory (if you have configured Thunderbird to use Reed's LDAP server) and your address book. You can scroll through this list to find the correct person.

You may enter multiple recipients in one line by separating them with commas, although the helpful lookup feature will only work on the first name. To use the lookup feature for each recipient, you can enter each new recipient on a new line. Once you've typed in one recipient, hit the Enter key to drop down to another To: field. To change a recipient line to Cc: or Bcc:, click on the word To:. This will give you several sender heading options to choose from.

To look for specific recipients in your address book, click on the Contacts button at the top of the window. You can search through your local address book, or the Reed directory from the window that opens up on the left.

Enter the subject of your message in the Subject: field.

Type your message text in the large blank area in the composition window.

To send your message, click the Send button in the upper-left corner of the composition window.

Deleting Messages

Highlight a message in the Mailbox pane, then click the Delete button in the main toolbar near the top of the window.


For information pertaining to how attachments work (or could possibly go awry) in IMAP, please see our supplementary page on attaching files in IMAP.

Begin composing a new message, as described above. To attach files, click on the paper clip button with the word Attach below it.

A window will open, and you can browse your computer for files. Select the file(s) you want to attach, and click the Open button. You attachment will appear as a small icon in the upper right of your message. To add more files to the email, repeat this process. Alternatively for attaching a large amount of files, you can select them and drag and drop into the right-hand side of the To: field.

To remove an attachment, click once on its icon, and then hit delete on your keyboard.

Using Filters

Thunderbird has the ability to do client-side message sorting and filtering based on user preferences. Any filters in Thunderbird will not work outside of Thunderbird; filters set up via Webmail will work in Webmail, Thunderbird, Apple Mail, and any other client that can access our IMAP system. To explore Thunderbird's filtering, go to the Tools menu and select Message Filters. Once the Message Filters window is open, you can add New filters for your e-mail accounts on an individual basis. To do this, confirm that the account you want to edit is selected under Filters for:. Then select New, and edit the Filter Rules. Here you can edit the criteria to which a given message must match, and then an action to perform on those messages that do match.

The screenshot below shows how a filter may look if you wanted to ensure that your philosophy homework, which your friend (who is named Phillip) will send to you, ends up in the right location. To do this, we've just created a new filter, entered in a descriptive title, told the filter to match all criteria, and created the first one: From must contain "phil".

Setting Up Filters

We may want to be more specific with our filter however, since messages from random people named "Phillip", or god forbid, Dr. Phil will also end up being caught by our filter. To be more specific, we can add a new criteria by clicking the + button located to the immediate right of each criteria that we specify.

Setting Up Filters

Now any message must both come from someone who has "phil" in their name, and carry the word "homework" in the subject line. This should suffice. Now we must tell Thunderbird what to do with any messages that meet the given criteria in the Perform these actions: pane. In the following example, we've configured Thunderbird to Move the message to Trash and also Reply with Template.

Setting Up Filters

You can run the filter on all extant e-mails in the account which the filter is active by going to the Message Filters window, selecting the account and filter, and clicking Run Now. Multiple filters may be set up for any given account, however, there is no way to currently move a pre-existing filter from one account or another.