Using Thunderbird across multiple Windows profiles

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Joined: December 17th, 2005, 10:22 pm
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Post Posted February 10th, 2018, 12:36 pm

I use multiple Windows profiles on my computer. I need each profile to be able to access my Tbird profile at any time. Since I just did a new install of Windows 10 I am in the process of setting up Tbird in each Windows profile. Here are the steps I have taken:

1) I moved the Tbird profile folder to a directory in the root directory of my system disk to make it more accessible from other Windows profiles.

2) Using "Run" from the Windows Start menu, I entered thunderbird -p which allowed me to set up a new Tbird profile and choose the profile folder mentioned above.

3) I moved to a different Windows profile and used "Run" and thunderbird -p to choose that same Tbird folder that I placed in the disk's root directory.

When I tried this I received back a message that because Tbird was running in the first Windows profile (which it was) I couldn't run it in my second Windows profile. Of course, I could close Tbird every time I switch Windows profiles, but that defeats the purpose of having different profiles. I need to be able to access my email from any Windows profile regardless of how many instances of Tbird are running using the same Tbird profile folder.

Any ideas?
John T. Reagan


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Joined: July 30th, 2003, 5:06 pm

Post Posted February 10th, 2018, 3:13 pm

See ... _same_time . Unfortunately unless things have changed its easy to run multiple copies of Thunderbird at the same time, but they have to use different profiles.

If you really need to use the same profile for two windows user accounts at the same time think about moving where the mail is stored to a common directory outside of the profile per ... hunderbird and then create a similar profile in the other windows user account (that uses the same common directories to store mail, outside of the profile). Each would have their own address books, settings, saved passwords and installed add-ons, but they would share all of the mail. One potential issue is file locking if you have a mail folder open in one instance and try to access it in the other. You could avoid that by selecting a different folder before switching windows users.

You can avoid specifying the profiles location using command line arguments if you used ... hunderbird to register the profile with whatever windows user account doesn't know about it. Each windows user account has its own copy of a profiles.ini file that Thunderbird uses to find a profile, unless you specify the profiles location using command line arguments. If you don't want to do that, I suggest you modify the properties of each Thunderbird shortcut to add the command line arguments.

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

Post Posted February 10th, 2018, 4:43 pm

Quite frankly, I would NOT recommend running the same profile from multiple accounts. That's an easy way to mess things up.

The page Tanstaafl has referred to speaks of running multiple profiles at the same time. In that case, each profile is accessed by only one program, therefore there is no "outside force" messing with each of the profiles. What you are asking is essentially to have the same profile played into by what amounts, for all purposes, multiple versions of Thunderbird. In essence, when User1 is running in the background and you are using your computer as User2, Thunderbird/User1 might access the profile in the background to compress a folder, pull new messages, save intermediate versions, etc., while Thunderbird/User2 is accessing the same profile and maybe the same messages while you are typing a reply. You may try it, but I almost guarantee problems galore!

However, you could follow Tanstaafl's suggetion and use a common profile [i]if you close User1 (or more specifically close Thunderbird/User1) before you access User2.

If you are using IMAP and calendars on a server, then all is not lost. Create identical profiles for all users, then run Thunderbird. So User1 will access Thunderbird/User1's profile, User2 will access Thunderbird/User2's profile, etc. But because all email is synchronized from the server(s), all your accounts will have the same messages, within 1-2 minutes. The only thing that you will be missing are draft messages in progress in other users... and contacts. But you could use Gmail's contacts with gContactSync or Cardbook to circumvent that issue.
Michel Gagnon
Montréal (Québec, Canada)

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