IT Connect
Information technology tools and resources at the UW

Thunderbird 6 (and above) for Macintosh

To Use Thunderbird With UW Deskmail
  • You must be eligible to use UW Deskmail. Students generally are not eligible.
  • You must activate your UW Deskmail Email Account.
  • You must forward your personal UW NetID email to UW Deskmail

Not sure? You can check your eligibility, activate your email account, or forward your email yourself.

Summary: This document provides specific instructions on how to configure Thunderbird for use with UW Deskmail and directory services. These examples were done with Thunderbird version 6.00.

Installing Thunderbird

Thunderbird is available for free download.

Configuring Thunderbird for Use With UW Deskmail Email

After you have successfully installed Thunderbird, you need to take the steps below to configure Thunderbird to read or send email.

To configure Thunderbird for Use With UW Deskmail Email:

Be sure your computer has an active Internet connection.

Creating Your UW Account in Thunderbird

Run Thunderbird. If you have NO accounts currently defined, Thunderbird should automatically bring up the “account setup” wizard, but, if not (for example you are adding a UW account to a copy of Thunderbird already configured with at least one other account), click on Local Folders, then under Accounts, click Create a new account.

Any method you use should bring you to a page similar to the one pictured below. Use this “wizard” to start setting up your account. Note: There will be more steps for you to take later, because the wizard does NOT give you access to all the options


  1. StepsActions
  2. For Your Name, enter your full name.
  3. For Email Address, enter your “” email address (that is, YOUR UW NetID plus “”).
  4. For Password, enter the password for your UW NetId (and, optionally, choose to “remember” it)
  5. Continue to the next page, pictured below.Tbird6-setup2
  6. Thunderbird WILL “fail” – this is normal, it needs a few more “hints” to succeed
  7. For Incoming Server, enter:
    • your IMAP server as where your_uwnetid is replaced by YOUR real UW NetID
    • select IMAP (not POP)
    • port 993
    • SSL/TLS security
    • Normal password authentication
  8. For Outgoing Server, enter:
    • “” (unless you are using a non-UW Internet connection and wish to use the SMTP server provided by your ISP)
    • port 587 or 465
    • STARTTLS security
    • Normal password authentication

    You get a screen similar to below:

  9. Do not select “Re-test” (it will enter incorrect values), select “Create Account” or “Done” (lower right) which creates the account, HOWEVER you are NOT finished with the account (yet).
  10. Click your (new) UW Deskmail account in the left column of the Thunderbird Mail window, then click View settings for this account (under Accounts), to bring up a page similar to the one pictured below.set-name
  11. This page asks only for a local Account Name (what Thunderbird will use to label the account WITHIN Thunderbird), you can use anything you like (e.g., the default “” or “My UWID on Deskmail”). Edit the Account Name as you prefer.
  12. Select Server Settings under your account to bring up a page similar to the one pictured below.Tbird6-server1
  13. To have Thunderbird use the same Delete behavior as Alpine, within Server Settings, under “When I delete a message:”, select “Move it to this folder” and select “Trash” from the pop-up list, the option to “Empty Trash on Exit” is also available and duplicates the Web Alpine behavior that will automatically empty the Trash at the end of each session. If you don’t select that option, remember to manually empty the Trash as needed.
  14. Click Advanced… to bring up a page similar to the one pictured below.more-settings2
  15. For the IMAP server directory, enter “mail”.
  16. Turn OFF (deselect) the option to show only subscribed folders (at least for now, after you’ve “subscribed” to some you may want it back on).
  17. Turn ON the option that the server supports sub-folders.
  18. Turn ON the option to use IDLE.
  19. Leave the boxes next to ALL the “namespaces” empty (blank) and turn OFF (deselect) the option to Allow server to override these namespaces. Warning: Failure to do this can result in lost data!
  20. Click OK to close this window (you return to the Server Settings).
  21. Click OK to close the account settings window.

Thunderbird is now MINIMALLY configured and should be able to read your UW email, find folders you’ve created in Alpine, and send mail.

Reading Your UW Deskmail Email in Thunderbird

Click Inbox under your UW Deskmail account in the left column of the Thunderbird Mail window.

At this point enough of the configuration should be done to let Thunderbird find your Inbox and folders (if any) on the UW Deskmail server. When you’ve closed the account configuration panel, you should see a new “UW” account in the column to the left of the messages window. Click the INBOX under that to open your UW email inbox (you should be prompted for a password). Your UW Deskmail folders will appear. This may take some time, especially if you have a large inbox, lots of folders, and/or a slow connection. The list of messages in your Inbox appears in the right pane, it should look something like the picture below (of course your list of folders and messages will be different).


Optional Configuration Information

Configuring Thunderbird and Alpine to Share Folders

By setting the Account Prefix Path to mail you’ve already got Thunderbird and Alpine (Web Alpine, etc.) looking at the same starting place for folders. You should probably also configure Thunderbird so that it uses the same folder Alpine does for copies of sent mail.

To configure Thunderbird and Alpine to Share Folders:

Note: Perform this configuration ONLY AFTER getting the basic Thunderbird configuration above done and seeing a list of your UW email folders from within Thunderbird.

  1. StepsActions
  2. If it isn’t already running, run Thunderbird (be sure you have an active Internet connection first…).
  3. Click your UW email account in the left column of the Thunderbird Mail window, then click View settings for this account (under Accounts).
  4. Click Copies and Folders under your account to bring up a page similar to the one pictured below.Tbird6-c-n-f
  5. Under When sending messages, automatically: select Place a copy in, then select Other, and (from the pop-up list next to that) select your sent-mail folder on your UW Deskmail account.
  6. Click OK.

Note: Thunderbird and Alpine(s) cannot usefully keep a shared “Drafts” folder, so you can put the Thunderbird Drafts wherever you like. The default (“Drafts” on your UW email account) is fine, and makes the Drafts folder available to different Thunderbird sessions.

Configuring Thunderbird to Use the UW Directory (LDAP)

To configure Thunderbird to Use the UW Directory (LDAP):

  1. StepsActions
  2. If it isn’t already running, run Thunderbird (be sure you have an active Internet connection first).
  3. From Window, select Mail & Newsgroups.
  4. Click your UW email account (ABOVE the inbox for this account) in the left column of the Thunderbird Mail window, then click View settings for this account (under Accounts).
  5. Click Composition and Addressing under your account to bring up a page similar to the one pictured below.Comp1
  6. Turn OFF (deselect) the option to Compose messages in HTML (only send using HTML when you have confirmed with your recipient that this is acceptable).
  7. Under When looking up addresses, select Use a different LDAP server, then click Edit Directories to bring up a page similar to the one pictured below.tbmac_LDAP2
  8. Click Add to bring up a page similar to the one pictured below.tbmac_LDAP2
  9. For Name, enter any label you prefer (e.g., “UW LDAP”).
  10. For Hostname, enter
  11. For BaseDN, enter o=University of Washington, c=US
  12. Click OK (to close the “add directory” window).
  13. Click OK (to close the “edit directories” window).
  14. You can now select the UW directory from the pop-up list next to “Use a different LDAP server”.
  15. Click OK (to close the “Accounts settings” window).

Now that the UW LDAP directory is defined in Thunderbird there are several ways to use it. Here’s one way:

  1. StepsActions
  2. From Window, select Address Book.
  3. In the Address Book window, click Search Addresses (under the Edit menu), to bring up a page similar to the one pictured below.UW-LDAP
  4. In the top/left corner be sure you have the UW Directory selected in the pop-up list under Search in.
  5. Customize the search as desired (if needed) and enter the text to be searched for in the text box. Click Search to conduct the search. Results are returned in a list in the bottom pane. Select the desired entry and click Compose to compose a message to that address.

Converting Your Alpine Address Book

There is currently no single easy and reliable method to convert Alpine address books to Thunderbird.

There is a Web page to export entries, other than local lists, from your Alpine address book as a Comma Separated Values (CSV) formatted file, see:

Export My Alpine Contacts

Do note that you may need to edit the “headers” (field names) from file exported from Alpine to import correctly.

Check Eligibility and Activate UW Deskmail Email Account and Forwarding

  1. StepsActions
  2. Go to Manage Computing Services to check the status of your email service.
    • If “UW Deskmail Email Account” is not listed, then you are not eligible for this service. Most students are not eligible to use UW Deskmail.
    • If “UW Deskmail Email Account” is listed, but not checked, check the box. Then click “Subscribe”.
  3. Go to Manage Email Forwarding to verify and set your UW NetID personal email forward to “UW Deskmail”.
    • Click on the “Forward to UW Deskmail” checkbox, if is not already chosen, then click on “OK”
  4. To verify the new settings:
    • Open Web Alpine.
    • Click “Inbox” in the left column to see the messages in your Inbox. Next, click on “Compose”, create a test message, address it to your UW NetID personal address ( and send the message.
    • Wait a few seconds then click “Check Mail” to see your message arrive.

    If you encounter problems confirming a working email account with Web Alpine, then ask for help and get that resolved before proceeding.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why am I getting warnings about Kerberos?
    Kerberos is a authentication system used by some programs. If you do not have any programs using Kerberos, Thunderbird may give you warnings when you send email even though Kerberos is not needed for Thunderbird to work. If you get these warnings, do the following:

    • Pull down the Thunderbird menu and click Preferences. A settings window will appear.
    • Click the Advanced icon in the top of the Preferences window and then click the General tab.
    • In the bottom right, click the Config Editor button.
    • Do the following:
      1. In the Filter box at the top, enter “trySecAuth”. A line beginning with “mail.smtpserver.default.trySecAuth” will display. The value in the right column is probably set to “true”.
      2. Double-click the row to set it to false.
  • I receive error “554 5.6.0 STOREDRV.Deliver Corrupt message content”
    sending attachments to ExchangeTo correct the problem, follow the steps below:

    1. StepsActions
    2. Close Thunderbird.
    3. Navigate to the following directory based upon your OS:Windows 2000/XP: c:\documents and \ApplicationData\Thunderbird\Profiles
      Windows Vista: %userprofile%\AppData\Roaming\Thunderbird\Profiles
      Mac OS X: \Library\Thunderbird\Profile
    4. Open the directory named with a random set of characters like “yo6luyl8.default”. There may be multiple directories if you have multiple Thunderbird profiles.
    5. Delete the file named ‘mimeTypes.rdf’.
    6. Open Thunderbird and resend the email with the attachment.