How to Organize Your Inbox with QuickFilters in Thunderbird

Organized Inbox Thunderbird Quickfilters Featured

Thunderbird is one of the more popular desktop email clients, and what makes it popular is its extension system: you can install extensions to increase its functionality or to customize it to your liking. Here we will show you how you can use quickFilters in Thunderbird to create filters from any incoming email and organize your Inbox.

If you’re not already using Thunderbird to manage your emails, you can download and install it from its website.

Note: Thunderbird already has its own filter system, but it can be quite manual and troublesome to set it up. The quickFilters extension is easier to use and can get things done more quickly.

Install QuickFilters

Click on Thunderbird’s “hamburger button” on the top right to access its main menu. Select “Add-ons ->Add-ons.”

Organized Inbox Thunderbird Quickfilters Add Ons

Choose “Extensions” from the left menu and then use the search field on the top right to seek “quickfilters.” Click on the big, friendly, green “Add to Thunderbird” next to the extension entry to install it.

Organized Inbox Thunderbird Quickfilters Install Quickfilters

Thunderbird will ask you if you want to install the extension. Click on the “Add” on the pop-up window and then on “Restart now” to complete its installation.

Organized Inbox Thunderbird Quickfilters Restart

Create Priority Folders

To a few folders emulating the “Priority Inbox” feature in Gmail, right-click on your account’s inbox on the left and select “New Folder … “

Organized Inbox Thunderbird Quickfilters New Priority Folder

Since we want to prioritize our emails, let’s create some folders for that. Assign a name like “Priority-High” to your new folder and then repeat the process, to create one or two more folders, for lower priorities.

Organized Inbox Thunderbird Quickfilters Folder Name

Making Filters

Click on the new “quickFilters Assistant” to enable the add-on. A notification will appear at the bottom of Thunderbird’s window to inform you that quickFilters is now active.

Organized Inbox Thunderbird Quickfilters Enable Assistant

Click and hold the left mouse button on an email where you want to create a new filter and drag it to one of the priority folders you created before.

Organized Inbox Thunderbird Quickfilters Drag Drop Mail

The quickFilters window will appear, offering different ways to filter your incoming emails. The most popular options that work well in most cases are the first two, “Based on Sender (From)” and “Based on Sender’s Domain.” For this example, the second option was chosen.

Organized Inbox Thunderbird Quickfilters Filtering Window

The next step allows you to customize your filter. You can use the default values for now. As you are getting more familiar with the way filtering works, you will be able to use the rest of the options to create more complex filters that can “catch” more incoming emails in one go. For now, though, keep it simple and, again, go with the defaults.

Organized Inbox Thunderbird Quickfilters Filter Setup

Finally, when your filter is ready, the actual quickFilters GUI will appear, with a list of all your available filters. From here, you can enable, disable, edit, rearrange, or delete them. You can also run them manually by clicking on the “Run Now” button at the bottom right.

Organized Inbox Thunderbird Quickfilters Manage Filters

“Inbox Zero” with Advanced Filtering

The longer you use it, and the more (and more complex) filters you create, quickFilters can help you achieve the fabled “Inbox Zero”: a fully-clean inbox with zero emails. As you will find, it’s not that hard to pull off.

It will start with merging filters. QuickFilters is smart enough to detect when two rules are similar and suggests you combine them (automatically).

Organized Inbox Thunderbird Quickfilters Filter Merging

An easy way to do it manually, though, is by using filters based on domains instead of each sender’s specific address.

When creating a new filter for a single domain, click on the “+” symbol next to it and then define another domain on the second row that appears.

Leave the options in the two pull-down menus for each domain rule as “From” and “ends with.” Click again on the “+” symbol of your second domain filter to add more filtering rules.

Organized Inbox Thunderbird Quickfilters Complex Rules

This way, you can quickly create rules for each of your priority folders, defining that each should contain “all emails that come from X, Y, or Z domain.”

Some emails, especially those that come from an unknown, new sender, will still slip through your filters. But as you learned above, filtering those as well will only be a drag-and-drop away. You can now easily turn your Thunderbird into Gmail.

Odysseas Kourafalos
Odysseas Kourafalos

OK's real life started at around 10, when he got his first computer - a Commodore 128. Since then, he's been melting keycaps by typing 24/7, trying to spread The Word Of Tech to anyone interested enough to listen. Or, rather, read.

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