Do Thunderbird Updates Usually Change Your Columns?

Discussion of general topics about Mozilla Thunderbird
Posts: 13
Joined: March 24th, 2016, 10:06 am

Post Posted April 16th, 2016, 10:02 am

I updated to 45, and my accounts all lost their "From" & "Account" columns. Replaced by "Correspondents", which I don't want. I have 16 email accounts, soon to be 24. It cost me about 20 minutes to fix them all. Can I stop this sort of thing from happening when updating? Thanks.

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Joined: May 3rd, 2007, 7:40 am
Location: US

Post Posted April 16th, 2016, 11:39 am

The good news is that things like that should only happen with a major update (i.e., 38.7.2 to 45.0 has a change at the first number, following minor updates 45.1, 45.2, etc., shouldn't come with those changes, but Firefox has set a bad example by throwing in new features with minor updates already). Thus, in theory you have about a year before any new major changes can make it into the release.

There is no general rule. In the easiest case, just a default value is flipped and would be picked up unless you've overridden that default with your own choice in the past. For more complex cases, there is usually some sort of migration code added (performing actions like "remove "Sender" and "Recipients" and add "Correspondence") in which case it depends on the author of the new feature (and the reviewers approving it) what happens. In some cases there was some dialog "Do you want to...? Yes/No" introduced, like with adding the Lightning calendar by default with 38.0, but that's rather rare.

Posts: 13
Joined: March 24th, 2016, 10:06 am

Post Posted April 16th, 2016, 1:57 pm


I hadn't updated for a while. I don't remember the version I was using, but it was a few back. I got so sick of my computer going off on its own, that I turned off most of the auto updating stuff. That doesn't do much good, as I leave the Microsoft & HP updates on, and those two seem to be mostly responsible for all the updates anyway. I'm not used to having my stuff changed by updates, except by the idiots at Microsoft & HP, who are forever changing my printer stuff, & the way Windows Explorer works.

I happened to stumble on a forum this morning just before I posted, where a whole bunch of people were really arguing about the merits of Correspondents. New features are fine, but with something like the columns in view, it seems like you'd let the user pick. Anyway, thanks, & why doesn't everything in the world run the way "I" want it to?????????

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Joined: May 3rd, 2007, 7:40 am
Location: US

Post Posted April 16th, 2016, 2:26 pm

Well, the thinking by the developers is probably "let's show the user what's new, and if they don't like it after a while they can still switch it back" vs. "nobody will notice the new feature if it's hidden in some obscure menu somewhere" and thus the switch was imposed during the update. I remember that the major update from 2.0 to 3.0 introduced substantial user-facing changes after more than a year of development, and it required quite a bit of pushing from the users' side to get a migration wizard for at least the most significant changes.

For this specific case, unless you have different setups for each folder, you can switch it for one folder and then select from the little drop-down menu at the right end of the message list "Apply columns to ..." > "Folder and its children ..." > account, this resets it for all folders of that account (with "Local Folders" being a special account). Yes, a first-run migration wizard for this case would me much more convenient, I agree.

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Joined: February 12th, 2005, 8:33 pm

Post Posted April 17th, 2016, 5:06 pm

Generally, column changes don't occur unless there is a "good" reason for that. With Thunderbird 45, a new field, "Correspondents" was created, which allows to combine the "to" and "from" columns in a single one.
Is it good? Well, it is more complete than the previous default setting which displayed either the "from" in Inbox and most other folders or the "to"in the Sent folders. For guys like me who like to keep all related mails in the same folder it was confusing, so I displayed "from" and "to" columns side by side. Great on a large screen but not so good for small screens, where the unified "correspondents" makes sense.

Do I like it? Not that much. I would have preferred something where the arrow would have changed position. Something like:
–> tothisotherperson (for an outgoing mail)
fromthisotherperson –> (for incoming mail: arrow at the end)

How to go back to another personal configuration:

– Configure one folder the way you want it.
– Right-click in one of the column headers and select (at the very bottom): "Apply these parameters to"
– Select each account: folders and all subfolders.

That way, you don't need to reconfigure individually some 40-50 folders; just each account.
Michel Gagnon
Montréal (Québec, Canada)

Posts: 27
Joined: December 27th, 2012, 9:28 am

Post Posted April 22nd, 2016, 7:32 am

It's a very interesting change.

My company uses a shared e-mail account for customer service so that whoever is available can respond. It also avoids the problem of customers sending a question or order to the wrong person since everybody sees everything. Partly as a consequence of this, everything we send is self-BCCed, which means the Inbox and Archives folders is a mix of sent and received mail. Not that it was a problem, but I sometimes wondered if it would be nice if the "From" column would show who we sent a mail to, since we don't need to see that it was sent from us. So I think the new column is pretty cool.

One news column talking about the new features pointed out that his has been in the works for over 15 years! Some of the complaining toward the end there and in this one is bizarre, the change is essentially unobtrusive to most people (anybody who isn't mixing sent and received mail in the same folder)

But those arrows are too similar! They are discussing options at

Different colors is an obvious option. What colors? Not sure. Not sure if it even matters so long as they are different.

Arrow direction is also a question.
–> tothisotherperson is intuitive. The arrow points to them, the mail went to them. That shouldn't change.
For the from arrow, I don't know. None of left, up, or down seems to really enforce the idea the mail is to me. I'm sitting in a direction perpendicular to the screen. Although if you instead think of it as the left-pointing arrow indicating it is "from" the listed person, I guess that makes better sense. Whatever you do there will be less intuitive I suppose, but it is still intuitive that the one that is different than the "to" arrow is the "from" arrow. That's the main problem now: because they are the same color you have to look at them too much to see if they are left or right, and then you have to remember what left means because it's still new.

mgagnonlv wrote:Do I like it? Not that much. I would have preferred something where the arrow would have changed position. Something like:
–> tothisotherperson (for an outgoing mail)
fromthisotherperson –> (for incoming mail: arrow at the end)

Also an interesting idea. As it is now the arrows make a neat column, and that would negate that, but I think I would need to see a full mock-up to decide if it's good or horrible.

Posts: 4
Joined: June 26th, 2016, 9:43 am

Post Posted March 1st, 2017, 4:45 pm

What happened?
Since at least 40, now in 45, my columns KEEP ON changing back to the way I DONT want them. This DOESN'T just happen once with updates as suggested above.

Please Bug fixers, fix this disaster of random folders reverting, apparently during compact and repair procedures. It just happens randomly all the time, pushing my dates and tags into unreadability. To some folders more often than others right next to them!

Like many businesses i send emails from several different addresses. I like to see who mail was sent from, and to. I can immediately detect spam. Call me weird, but I want to see them both. I don't use threads, that is what filters are for. And I don't want my dozens of filtered folders having big junk icons taking up precious space. And read icons (like who can't see bold text? Surely that is an ease of access option???)

And of course the coup de grace-every time that happens, the date order is REVERSED so I cant see my most recent emails anymore. I am so sick of changing these things constantly. It's not just once for an update. And applying to all folders and their children-- works until the next week or so.
Why can't WE change the default columns in message list pane? This should not even be a option for the "developers".

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