Created: 2023-02-09

I’d love to be 100% on the terminal with my email. I did run alpine for a while. But I have to admit, I actually do like Thunderbird.

Plaintext email composition in Thunderbird

Let’s get right to it. These instructions are valid for Thunderbird version 102.7.1:

  • Right-click on your account (e.g.

  • Select Composition & Addressing

  • Uncheck Compose messages in HTML format

  • Optional: Select from the drop-down: When quoting, start my reply below the quote. (See note below.)

  • Click the Global Composing Preferences…​ button (will open new tab)

  • Under Sending Format, select Only Plain Text

  • You can close the settings tab(s) now, changes are saved as you make them

"When quoting, start my reply below the quote is known as "bottom posting". I respond to 99% of emails with inline replies, where I respond to a specific portion of the quoted email. I also delete anything I’m not replying to. So I don’t actually write my entire response at the bottom after the quote! (By contrast, Outlook and Gmail default to "top posting", which is why that style is so popular.)

I know the ship has sailed on HTML email, but I refuse to be part of the problem!

Unfortunately, Thunderbird’s settings are a bit all over the place. I initially made this page to FINALLY write down the instructions to set this up so I don’t have to keep figuring it out by trial and error.

But then I discovered which is awesome.

There are an excellent set of instructions there for a ton of email clients, including Thunderbird.

Since my focus is on Thunderbird specifically, my instructions above are a bit more verbose.

Here’s the semi-official wiki page I used to use to help me, which may or may not have additional info: Plain text e-mail - Thunderbird (

RSS Feeds

I also use Thunderbird as my RSS reader. I’m sure other specialized feed readers are better, but the reason Thunderbird is the best for me is that I see it every time I check my email. If I had to open a separate program to read feeds, I probably wouldn’t bother.

(Imagine a rant here about how a feed reader should absolutely be built into every browser by default.)

TODO: add feed instructions for the latest tbird