How To change Thunderbird’s default sort order and threaded view

When you install a fresh new version of Thunderbird and you have an IMAP server like GMail with thousands (yes!) of folders it can be very frustrating going inside of each folder and manually change the default view settings of Thunderbird; that are:

  • sort by date
  • ascending order
  • unthreaded view

If you want to change the default settings used by Thunderbird to display each folder in order to make them look more in a GMail way:

  • set descending order by date
  • enable threaded view

you can accomplish this by opening the advanced config editor of Thunderbird and change the following parameters.

Sort by Date

Check for mailnews.default_sort_type and make sure the value is 18

Change from Ascending to Descending

Change mailnews.default_sort_order from 1 (ascending) to 2 (descending).

Enable Threaded View

Change mailnews.default_view_flags from 0 (unthreaded) to 1 (threaded). If you want to expand all messages by default then add the decimal value 32 to the previous value.

You can find the documentation of all this internal flags and value at the Mozilla Knowledge Base website.

Finally save the settings and restart Thunderbird.

All your folders will now respect your new default settings.


How To change Thunderbird's default sort order and threaded view, 5.0 out of 5 based on 2 ratings

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Antonio Gallo is a Linux entusiast and evangelists since 1996 when he started the Bad Penguin project. Notably he was in the board and sysadmin of for many years and also managed the "Linux Day" event in Italy, wrotes for technical magazines. Antonio writes, codes and develops Linux and Open Source software solutions. When everybody else fails he's the man to be called: bash, awk, php, perl, C are the rabbits in his cylinder ready to spread the Linux magic around the world.

  • Idolw Szutrab

    OMG, thank you! Amaizing! :)

  • Chris Nehren

    Thank you for this post! It provided exactly what I needed in an easily-accessible way. One has to wonder why these settings aren’t the default (especially threading!).