FIX: Mozilla Thunderbird won’t delete messages

Tashreef Shareef
by Tashreef Shareef
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  • Millions of emails are sent every day and Thunderbird takes care of 0.5% of the world's emails.
  • If Thunderbird is the email platform of your choice but you can't delete the received messages, use the below tips to bypass this issue.
  • As you can see, installing updates is essential. Therefore, find some essential reasons that support setting your PC on Automatic Update.
  • For additional handy guides on how to troubleshoot Thunderbird, visit our Email Clients Hub as well.
Fix Mozilla Thunderbird won’t delete messages

Users can delete messages from Mozilla Thunderbird email client by using the shortcut key or the menu function. However, some users have reported that Mozilla Thunderbird won’t delete messages.

According to Mozilla, this issue can occur due to the corrupted trash folder. This can be usually fixed by troubleshooting the email client.

If you are also troubled by this problem, here are a couple of troubleshooting tips to help you resolve Mozilla’s Thunderbird messages issues in Windows 10.


Quick Tip:

In this case, it’s understandable how the fact that Mozilla Thunderbird doesn’t delete messages can affect your workflow.

Using a single inbox for all of your email accounts should help you get more done in less time, not the opposite, so you should better consider switching to a different email app.

Familiarizing yourself with Mailbird won’t be time-consuming. On the contrary, simplicity is what describes the best this email client for Windows.

It provides support for your favorite email, task, and messaging apps, and various helpful email management features you wouldn’t even expect getting, such as Snooze, Custom Sounds, and Speed Reader.

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What can I do if Mozilla Thunderbird is not deleting messages?

1.  Delete the corrupt trash folder

  1. Launch Mozilla Thunderbird.
  2. Click on Help (top right corner).
  3. Select Troubleshooting Information option from the options. It will open the Information tab.Mozilla Thunderbird won't delete messages
  4. On the Information tab, scroll down to the Profile Folder section.
    Mozilla Thunderbird won't delete messages
  5. Click on the Open Folder button. A window with your profile files will open in the File Explorer.
  6. Close Thunderbird.
  7. On the File Explorer window, open the Mail folder.
  8. Open the folder with your incoming mail server name.
  9. It should look something like imap.googlemail.com or pop.googlemail.com.
  10. In the folder, select the Trash and Trash.msf  files and delete them.
  11. These files can also be named as Bin or Deleted.
  12. Once the files are deleted, restart Thunderbird.
  13. Upon restart, Thunderbird will automatically create a new Trash folder for IMAP accounts.
  14. If you are using a POP account, do the following.
  15. Right-click on your account name and select New folder.
  16. Name the folder as Trash and click on Create Folder button to confirm.
  17. Now try to delete the messages and check if that has resolved the issue.

By deleting and rebuilding the trash folder, you should be able to successfully delete the messages in Mozilla Thunderbird.


2. Check for add-on issues

  1. Start Mozilla Thunderbird if not already running.
  2. Click on Help and select Restart with Add-ons Disabled option.Mozilla Thunderbird won't delete messages
  3. When prompted to confirm the restart click the Restart button.
  4. Thunderbird will restart in safe mode with all the installed add-ons disabled.
    • Make sure you click on Continue in Safe Mode button.
  5. Open your email account and try to delete the messages.
  6. If you are able to delete the messages, it is possible that one of the installed add-ons is creating the issue.

In such a case here’s what you need to do:

  1. Restart Thunderbird.
  2. Click on Tools and select Add-ons.Mozilla Thunderbird won't delete messages
  3. From the left pane, select Extensions.
  4. Start with enabling add-ons one by one till you find the add-on creating issues with the client.
  5. Once found the problematic add-on, remove it and check again.

3. Install updates

Thunderbird not deleting messages

  1. Start Mozilla Thunderbird.
  2. Click on Help.
  3. Select About Mozilla Thunderbird.
  4. Thunderbird will now scan for any pending updates and download them. Wait for the updates to be installed.
  5. You may have to click on Restart to update Thunderbird button to finish updating the client.
  6. After the restart, try to delete the messages and check for any improvements.

The Mozilla Thunderbird won’t delete messages issue usually occurs due to corrupt trash folders.

If rebuilding the trash folder didn’t help, you can follow some additional steps to fix the problem with your email client.

Just let us know which of the methods listed above allowed you to fix this Thunderbird issue. You can do this by leaving your feedback in the comments section below.

FAQ: Learn more about Thunderbird

  • How do I select all messages in Thunderbird?

To select multiple messages on Thunderbird, simply select the first message on the list, then hold down Shift and select the last message you want to delete. In this manner, all the messages between the first and the last emails will be selected and you can bulk move or delete them.

  • How do I stop Thunderbird from deleting messages?

If you want to prevent Thunderbird from deleting read messages, right-click on the email you want to save, select Properties and then uncheck the Always delete read messages option.

  • Why is Thunderbird email not working?

If Thunderbird is not working and you can’t send, receive or delete messages, this could be due to several reasons: Thunderbird servers are down, your Internet connection is not working or you’re using an outdated version of the email client.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in April 2020 and has been since revamped and updated in August 2020 for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.