How to Add Custom Search Engines in Thunderbird

Featured Thunderbird Custom Search Engines

Adding a custom search engine in Mozilla Thunderbird is tricky and prone to compatibility errors. Follow the procedure below to access your favorite search engine from the email client.

Find Your Default Search Engine

First, you need to find your default search engine for the Thunderbird client. For this, select any email text and look for the available default search option. I was running an older version 60 with Bing as the default search option.

Thunderbird Default Search Bing

Add Google Search

Before adding Google search in Thunderbird’s default setting, it is important for you to upgrade your Thunderbird to the latest version, which is 68.1 at the time of this writing.

First, close your Thunderbird application and go to Mozilla’s official website to download the latest Thunderbird client.

The migration to a higher version will not take very long if you were already using an existing email with the Thunderbird client. You don’t have to uninstall the previous version, as it will automatically sync with the latest update. Wait for all your emails to show up on the dashboard.

Once done, go to the three-bar menu and click “Options” twice. After that, go to “General.”

Tool Option Thunderbird

Here, you can locate the latest search engines. To change over to Google, simply select it as shown here.

Add Search Engine Google From Options General Thunderbird

Next time you search a new text, it will display Google as a default search option.

Search With Google Thunderbird

Add DuckDuckGo

Similar to the above procedure, you need to select DuckDuckGo as your default search engine.

Add Duckduckgo To Mozilla Thunderbird

As soon as you select any text, it will enable DuckDuckGo for search results with a specific term.

Search With Duckduckgo Thunderbird

Repeat the procedure for any other custom search engines including Amazon, Wikipedia and Twitter.

Adding Custom Search Engines

Thunderbird also allows you to add your own search engines, provided that you have the XML file.

If you are able to download the XML file for any other search engine compatible with Thunderbird, you can click the “Add from file” button and add the custom search engine XML file to the list. For example, for StartPage, you can download its XML file from this link (right-click and select “Save link”).

Add Xml File Mozilla Thunderbird

Alternatively, you can create your own custom search engine XML file. It is very easy to do so.

1. Open a notepad and paste the following text:

<!--?xml version='1.0' encoding='utf-8'?-->
  Custom Search Engine Name
  Custom Search Engine Description

2. Change the following:

  • Custom Search Engine Name – Change this to the your custom search engine name.
  • Custom Search Engine Description – Add a description for this custom search engine.
  • https://search-engine-url – Change this to the custom search engine URL.
  • <Param name=’s’ value='{searchTerms}’ /> – You might want to change this if the search parameter is not “s.”

For more details, you can refer to the OpenSearch documentation.

3. Save the file as “custom-search.xml.” Import it into your Thunderbird, and it should show up in the list.


While changing the search engine in Thunderbird is not difficult, the option to do so is not so straightforward, especially if you want to add a search engine that is not in the list. The above instructions allow you to add your favorite custom search engine easily.

Do you have any questions or issues on this topic? Please let us know in the comments.

Sayak Boral
Sayak Boral

Sayak Boral is a technology writer with over eleven years of experience working in different industries including semiconductors, IoT, enterprise IT, telecommunications OSS/BSS, and network security. He has been writing for MakeTechEasier on a wide range of technical topics including Windows, Android, Internet, Hardware Guides, Browsers, Software Tools, and Product Reviews.

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