Home > Computers > Quick Fix: Thunderbird hangs when deleting any message

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 (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.

  5. Ray
    October 30th, 2014 at 19:45 | #5

    I have thunderbird on my mac and can’t delete opened emails, there are lots of advice re pc windows etc but no advice re mac. Can anyone help please

  6. Ray
    October 30th, 2014 at 19:48 | #6

    Re last message, my mac is an old g5 upgraded to leopard and that’s about it….

  7. Laura
    January 31st, 2015 at 01:02 | #7

    How?? I have this new computer with McAfee and it’s great but every time I click a message in thunderbird or try and delete or even just read something (thunderbird is not responding. Nothing helps. Not one thing. So can you explain what you did. thanks

    • January 31st, 2015 at 14:11 | #8

      If the instructions in the article didn’t solve your problem, then you could also try repeating Steps 1-10 on the folder where you are deleting the messages from. But, more likely IMO is that McAfee is screwing something up. McAfee is at the very bottom of my list of recommended antivirus software. Personally, I’d uninstall McAfee, and then install Microsoft Security Essentials (surprise!) and MalwareBytes (which is not free, but it’s awesome).
      MS Security Essentials

  8. steve
    August 17th, 2015 at 03:49 | #9

    It’s August 2015 and I just installed TB 38.2.0 on Windows 10, I-7 machine and grouped three account into one. Same problem of “Not responding” when deleting on occasion. Stuart Flanagan’s suggestion seems to have worked for now. I only just made the changes with a couple of test email deletes. But No freezing!

  9. Steve again
    August 26th, 2015 at 21:35 | #10

    Spoke too soon.

  10. December 20th, 2015 at 16:21 | #11

    @Steve again
    Yep, it’s just plain annoying. I have to figure out something else to do while I wait for it to stop hanging. I may try broadband connection rather than wifi. But who knows what will happen. Looking at the comment section this has been going on for at least 5 years. Not Cool, man.

  11. Friston
    March 17th, 2016 at 19:24 | #12

    Did all this. Problem is worse than ever.

    • March 17th, 2016 at 20:41 | #13

      If you haven’t tried already, disable each Extension and Plugin, one at a time, and see if that helps.

  12. October 12th, 2016 at 22:05 | #14

    my thunderbird E-mail sent botton is frozen, it appears grey instead of black, what can I do. Cannot sent any E-mails now.

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