How to Restore Deleted Thunderbird Emails

Written by sean hill
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How to Restore Deleted Thunderbird Emails
Learn how to recover deleted e-mails in Thunderbird. (trash image by Orlando Florin Rosu from

Thunderbird is an e-mail client created by Mozilla. For Thunderbird users with a Windows operating system, there is a way to recover deleted e-mails. The recovery process involves accessing application data and changing a few lines of code.

Skill level:

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  1. 1

    Click on the Windows Start menu and select "Run."

  2. 2

    Type "%AppData%" in the space provided. Press "Enter."

  3. 3

    Open the "Thunderbird" folder, and then the "Profiles" folder. Select your default profile and open the "Mail" folder within it.

  4. 4

    Open the folder with the name of your incoming mail server.

  5. 5

    Open the "Inbox" file without a file extension in Windows Notepad. Do not open the "Inbox.msf" file.

  6. 6

    Look for the text of the email you're trying to recover. Select "Find" from the "Edit" menu to launch Notepad's text finder.

  7. 7

    Locate the line titled "X-Mozilla-Status:" above your target e-mail's text. Change the numbers on this line to "0."

  8. 8

    Save the file and close Notepad. Launch Thunderbird to look for your recovered mail.

Tips and warnings

  • The "%AppData%" shortcut only works on the Windows Vista, XP and 2000 operating systems. If you have Windows 95, 98 or ME, navigate to "C:\WINDOWS\Application Data." If you use Windows 7, type "%AppData%" in the Start menu search box (i.e., do not select "Run").
  • It is recommended you backup your Thunderbird application data folder before manipulating any files. That way, you can undo any undesired changes.
  • To figure out which folder holds your incoming mail, look for the name of your e-mail service provider. For example, if you use Gmail in Thunderbird, look for "Google" in the folder titles.
  • Deleted e-mails can be recovered even if you empty Thunderbird's trash.
  • If you compact your Thunderbird inbox, you can't restore any deleted e-mails.

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