FIX: Mozilla Thunderbird won’t delete messages

Tashreef Shareef
by Tashreef Shareef
Windows & Software Expert
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  • Millions of emails are sent every day and Thunderbird takes care of 0.5% of the world's emails.
  • A reliable email client is crucial for your personal and business communication and choosing the best one for your needs takes some trial and error attempts.
  • If Thunderbird is the email platform of choice for you but you can't delete some of the messages received, use this guide to bypass this issue.
  • For additional handy guides on how to troubleshoot Thunderbird and get the most out of your email experience, visit our section of the website dedicated to this email service.
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 Mozilla Thunderbird won’t delete messages issue.

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

If you are also troubled by this issue, here are a couple of troubleshooting tips to help you resolve Mozilla Thunderbird won’t delete messages issue in Windows.

What to do if Mozilla Thunderbird is not deleting messages?

1.  Delete the corrupt trash folder

Mozilla Thunderbird won't delete messages

  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.
  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.
    • It should look something like imap.googlemail.com or pop.googlemail.com.
  9. In the folder, select the Trash and Trash.msf  files and delete them.
    • These files can also be named as Bin or Deleted.
  10. Once the files are deleted, restart Thunderbird.
  11. Upon restart, Thunderbird will automatically create a new Trash folder for IMAP accounts.
  12. If you are using a POP account, do the following.
  13. Right-click on your account name and select New folder.
  14. Name the folder as Trash and click on Create Folder button to confirm.
  15. 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.


Tired or Mozilla Thunderbird? Check out this article for some very good alternatives.


2. Check for add-on issues

Mozilla Thunderbird won't delete messages

  1. Start Mozilla Thunderbird if not already running.
  2. Click on Help and select Restart with Add-ons Disabled option.
  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.

2.1 Finding and deleting the add-on

Mozilla Thunderbird won't delete messages

  1. Restart Thunderbird.
  2. Click on Tools and select Add-ons.
  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 occur due to corrupt trash folders. If rebuilding the trash folder didn’t help, you can follow the additional steps to fix the problem with your email client.

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 February 2020 and has since been updated for freshness and accuracy.