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Quick Fix: Thunderbird hangs when deleting any message

CrazybirdIt’s hard to find a good e-mail client these days. Despite it’s increasing crappiness, I still use Mozilla Thunderbird, mainly because there just aren’t any good alternatives out there.

I could use webmail, but I really don’t like it. I like to have my e-mail stored on my computer, not on some server somewhere.

But, as I said, Tbird is increasingly crazy. One of the problems I run into a lot is when trying to simply delete a message, Thunderbird hangs with a “Not Responding” message from Windows in the title bar. After about 5-10 seconds, it unhangs and deletes the message. It does this for every e-mail I delete.

This is really annoying, but it’s also very easy to fix!


Okay, here’s what you do:

  1. Right-click the Trash folder in the folder pane and choose Properties
  2. Click the Repair Folder button
  3. Click OK
  4. Your Trash folder now probably has up to several hundred unread e-mails, usually from a long time ago. If not, skip to step #10.
  5. Click the Trash folder
  6. In the “View” pulldown menu at the top of the Tbird window, choose Unread
  7. Click any message in the message list pane
  8. Hold down Ctrl and press the A key. This will select all the displayed Unread messages
  9. Right-click any message in the now-selected group, and choose Mark -> As read
  10. Now, back in the folder pane, right-click the Trash folder again and this time, choose Compact

When it’s done compacting, try deleting any message again.

Sometimes the Trash folder and/or its index file gets corrupted. By repairing the folder and then compacting it, you rebuild the Trash folder’s index file and compact the message file to clean things up.

Note that if you have multiple accounts set up, you may have one Trash folder for each account. Repair the Trash folder as described above for any account that is misbehaving. If the mail for all your accounts is funneled into Local Folders, there is only one Trash folder to repair.

That’s all there is to it!

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  1. July 5th, 2013 at 17:07 | #1

    It may be simpler to close Thunderbird, to go to its data directory and to delete the trash folder which will come back automatically when starting TB again. At least that is what happens when starting my TB 1.5.0.14 (Windows, 12/2007). The same form of corruption is happening with my inbox from time to time. Compressing does not work, so I copy my emails to a new folder, close TB and rename the folders in the data directory. Otherwise I can`t complain. I have over 1 Mio emails in TB. I never upgraded, because the newer versions of TB did not offer anything interesting and would have broken my many plugins. I do spam filtering with Spambayes, encrypting with GPGRelay, indexing with an old x1 (www.x1.com, today I would choose copernic), securing TB with Sandboxie (www.sandboxie.com).

  2. July 6th, 2013 at 00:13 | #2

    @Michael Logies
    Yeah, that’s another option. Only trouble is that on Windows anyway, you have to set Explorer to view hidden files, and then go into the AppData/Roaming directory, which is a bit too hardcore for many people!

  3. Marlene
    April 9th, 2014 at 23:42 | #3

    I was having that problem. It keeps reappearing, partly due to a MCafee problem. Another thing is to go to your profile and remove all folders with .msf
    I did what you suggested and it seems to be working properly again.

  4. Stuart Flanagan
    July 25th, 2014 at 09:48 | #4

    After months of suffering with this “Not Responding” issue I managed to fix it by removing from the Mail Toolbar the “Quick Filter” button. Since then… no problems. Yet.

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