Getting Started with the Thunderbird main window (Supernova and newer)

Thunderbird Thunderbird Last updated: 01/23/2024 46% of users voted this helpful
For versions of Thunderbird prior to Thunderbird 115 Supernova, please refer to: Getting started with the Thunderbird main window.

This article describes Thunderbird's main window for Thunderbird 115 Supernova and newer versions.

There are many ways to configure Thunderbird's main window. This article describes two popular configurations:

  • Classic View Layout with Table View for the Message List Pane
  • Vertical View Layout with Card View for the Message List Pane

Refer also to the many keyboard shortcuts available in the main window to help you quickly perform functions, such as message actions and navigation, searching and calendar actions.

Classic View Layout with Table View

The following screenshot shows the Classic View Layout with Table View. It is the default layout for new Thunderbird installs.


1. Spaces Toolbar

Since version 102, Thunderbird has had a central Spaces Toolbar for fast and easy access to your most important activities. Click on the buttons to move between the various "Spaces": Mail, Address Book, Calendar, Tasks, Chat, and your add-ons. At the bottom of the Spaces Toolbar, there is a button for hiding the Spaces Toolbar. Above this, is a button to change Settings. More details at New in Thunderbird 102.

2. Unified Toolbar

There is a new “Unified Toolbar” on top of the Tab Bar, which is fully screenreader and keyboard accessible. This toolbar is used for all “Spaces” of the Spaces Toolbar, which are Mail, Address Book, Calendar, Tasks, Chat and Settings. More details at Unified Toolbar.

3. Tab Bar

In Supernova, the Tab Bar is only displayed if you have two or more tabs. For example, if you have a Mail tab and a Calendar Tab, the Tab Bar is visible. If you just have one tab like the Mail tab, the Tab Bar automatically disappears.

4. Message List Header

The Message List Header is new for 115. It shows the current folder name, number of messages, "Quick Filter", and “Message list display options” icon tb115-display-options-icon-offical-from-micah .

5. Folder Pane

The Folder Pane is where your accounts and folders will appear. It will show the account name(s) specified in the account settings window, with default account first, and any additional accounts listed in the order you added them.

Within each account, special folders (Inbox, Sent, Trash) will be listed first with unique icons, while other folders will appear in alphabetical order.

Sub-folders will appear underneath the parent folder. To expand or collapse an account or parent folder, click on the arrow beside the account or parent folder, or double click on the name.

You can choose your preferred view(s) of the Folder Pane.

6. Quick Filter Bar

The Quick Filter Bar helps you sort your message list based on specific criteria. See Quick Filter Bar.

7. Message List Pane

The Message List Pane contains the list of messages in the selected folder, including details like the date/time, subject, sender, and more. To pick which details are displayed, and how wide each column is, see Message List Columns.

8. Message Header Pane

The Message Header Pane will show you information about the selected message, such as the From, To, and Subject headers, as well as the date/time of the message.

9. Message Pane

The Message Pane is where you see the content of the selected message. To show/hide the Message Pane, press F8.

10. Today Pane

The Today Pane will display information from your calendar, such as any events scheduled for today, tomorrow, and upcoming events (by default within the next 5 days). Click on the arrows at the top of the Today Pane to switch to the Events and Tasks view, which will include your calendar tasks as well as events, or the Tasks view which will only include your calendar tasks, not events. To hide the Today Pane, click on the X beside the arrows. To bring it back, click on Today Pane in the Status Bar. You can also show/hide the Today Pane, by pressing F11.

11. Status Bar

The Status Bar from left to right:

  • A button to switch back and forth from online to offline and vice versa.
  • An area to display status messages about operations like downloading email, compacting folders etc.
  • A button to switch back and forth between displaying the "Today Pane" and not displaying it.

The goal over time is remove the Status Bar and move its functions to more contextually relevant places. For example, the Unread and Total counts that used to be in the Status Bar in pre Supernova releases have been moved to the individual folders.

Vertical View Layout with Card View

To see this view:

  1. select "Vertical View" as follows: click > Layout > Vertical View and then
  2. select "Card View": (to the right of Quick Filter) click on the "Message list display options" icon tb115-display-options-icon-offical-from-micah > Cards View


This configuration has most of the same components with the same features as their counterparts in "Classic View Layout with Table View":

  • 1. Spaces Toolbar
  • 2. Unified Toolbar
  • 3. Tab Bar
  • 4. Message List Header
  • 5. Folder Pane
  • 6. Quick Filter Bar
  • 7. Message List Pane
  • 8. Message Pane
  • 9. Today Pane
  • 10. Status Bar
  • 11. One of the cards in Card View

Card view (one of the cards is highlighted in red, see #11), is a multi-line, non-column alternative view of the message list.. Currently there is a two line "card" for each message in the Message List Pane. The first line has the sender's display name (not the actual email address) and time and the second line displays the subject.

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