Thunderbird Tags

It is pretty annoying tha the “tag” system in Thunderbird bears no relation to any tagging system implemented within the past four years. It is, at best, a non-folder-based categorization system, and doesn’t even have a particularly good UI for that. Thunderbird 2 also took away the views dropdown, which was an eminently useful feature, and the only way I can find to replicate it is to create search folders, which are of course are a lot clunkier. Might be time for a downgrade. Update: You can add back the views dropdown from the customize menu. Sweet! readers rock. 🙂

39 thoughts on “Thunderbird Tags

  1. Although there are a lot improvement, I still prefer the old version of Thunderbird. You made a good point about the tag system.

    Yet, is there any email client out there which has pretty good tag system with a good UI? I do not think so.

  2. No need to downgrade, you can customize the toolbar to include the views dropdown.

    View -> Toolbars -> Customize

    And then drag the desired compontends onto the toolbar. Works like a charm.

  3. The stupid thing as well is that the tags they provide you with were available in 1.5, they haven’t changed any functionality to keep up with everyone else’s tags, they’ve just renamed it ‘tags’. Its a shame, but ill carry on using Thunderbird over anything else.

  4. Hmm, not sure if that’s what you mean, but if you right-click on the toolbar to Customize… there’s a View dropdown available. 🙂

  5. I stopped using Thunderbird a while back when I switched over to Gmail. I simply haven’t found a better organization system.

  6. Views is still there. Do a “Customize Toolbar” and drag “Mail Views” up to your toolbar. I do agree that a better interface for adding the tags in needed though.

  7. Try View->Toolbars->Customize – you can re-add Views to the toolbar through that panel.

    Hope that helps 🙂

  8. I wasn’t a user before, so I can’t make a good comparison. I don’t use the tagging :(. I would state; however, that the Junk mail filtering in Thunderbird is much better than any of the other clients I’ve used.

    The only thing that really bugs me is that I can’t figure out how to default the outgoing email to HTML; as a result, I get asked EVERY time I send an email which type I’d like to send. Very annoying.

    The one thing that may make me change is that I can’t just search by body text from the search bar. If they could add Thunderbird to Spotlight, that would be nice (OSX).

  9. It almost feels like one of their project managers said, “We should have tags!” And then some developer said, “Why?” And the manager said, “Whatever. Let’s just have tags.”

  10. I was taken aback by some of the changes too, starting from the changing the keyboard shortcut for New E-mail from Cmd+Shift+M to Cmd+N on the Mac.

    (Clearly that was an infrequently used shortcut and no one would notice?)

    If by “Views Drop Down,” you mean that drop down list where you can choose to view mails by their classification (All, To do, etc.) I was horrified when I found it gone too.

    But, you can retrieve it by customising the toolbar at the top. Find it in the list of available widgets, and drag it back onto your toolbar.

    Phew, that was most scary.

  11. Matt, I agree with your points on the new “tags” in Thunderbird, but don’t give up too easily on the Views dropdown.

    I was upset after not seeing it in the default toolbar after the 2.0 upgrade (on Mac OS X), but found it soon. Go to View -> Toolbars -> Customize. Then drag the Views dropdown to your toolbar (I put it by the Stop button). I also made the buttons smaller so everything would fit well.

    Bottom line: I have my precious views chooser back. I use it constantly, especially the “Last 5 Days” view and the “Unread” view.

  12. IIRC the “View” dropdown is still there, it’s just not in the default toolbar anymore. Right-click on the toolbar and pick “Customize…” and you should be able to get it back?

    Unless of course you’re talking about a different “Views” dropdown, in which case you can ignore my pathetic ramblings 🙂

  13. I just use Gmail, especially with its push email capabilities. Consistent UI across platforms, and does everything I wanted. Oh, and it’s almost 3 GB of free space.

  14. Agreed, I found the tags in Thunderbird to be absolutely useless – I certainly haven’t found a good reason to use them, except to colour particular emails of interest. Regarding the view drop down, I think they just hid it. I still have it on mine, if you right click the toolbar and press Customize, you can drag the view toolbar back to it’s original location.

  15. What do you mean views dropdown is gone? I still have it?

    Tags… well I never used them much, I do like that they now added a column which lists the tags a email has been tagged with (besides in the headers) so you can sort by tag.

    The tag button up on the bar doesn’t do much for me… I still find myself right clicking and setting tags. I will admit that I like being able to set more then one tag on an email.

    As a side note, it seems to do a better job on remembering sort state.

  16. Seconding what Anders said, you can get the Views dropdown back by customising the toolbar. You can even move it around now – it’s not fixed in position as before.

  17. Thanks Anders, that’s exactly what I need! It’s a shame I can’t see an easy way to put it back where it was in v1.x but the functionality is much appreciated

  18. Yes, they are “tags” in name alone. I don’t know why the hell they don’t just call them “labels” and get on to adding more important features instead of buzzwords.

  19. Thunderbird 2 also took away the views dropdown, which was an eminently useful feature, and the only way I can find to replicate it is to create search folders, which are of course are a lot clunkier.

    No it didn’t, it just removed it from view by default. If you customize the toolbar, you’ll see the View drop down as one of the options to drag onto the toolbar wherever you want it.

    I will, however, agree with the tagging.

  20. I migrated to TB2.0 largely for the tagging and I have to say it’s disappointing. I’ve been looking for something similar and the best I’ve found is a plugin for outlook, which is in closed beta and unavailable (SideFinder). There must be a way to replicate that for TB!

  21. I’ve been using 2.0 for a while now (beta) and I have to say that when Seamonkey came out a couple months back using Thunderbird as it’s base but improving tags I was hoping it would make it into Thunderbird 2.0. It didn’t.

    What are you missing? Tags that can be re-ordered. Color coding tags really doesn’t work in either one.

    I used Seamonkey for a couple of months but couldn’t take it any more. Since then I’ve just revamped my email habits to stop trying to save any email and get it into a better system, ala Bit Literacy ( Thanks Mozilla!

  22. Indeed, there is *a* views toolbar in TB2, only it is not the same as in 1.5, which is unfortunate. Now, I have to go through 2 mouseclicks instead of 1 to select a tag. (The tags went one folder level down in the dropdown box) 🙁

  23. Tags would be useful for me only if I could assign them to people in my address book as well. Then I could make filters to move messages around depending on the tags assigned to the sender, if they are in my address book. Tagging folders might be helpful as well. It really surprises me to see them implement this “feature” without being able to tag other things!

  24. The tags/labels do make sense when used in combination with “saved searches”. In previous versions of Thunderbird saved searches operating on labels (as it was then called) took forever and ever, so in reality becoming useless. However, in TB 2.0 a saved search on tags/labels operating on 2.4GB of email stored on an encrypted partition in linux (using encfs) takes 1-2 seconds to display. pretty impressive and very usable.

    So now I have tags such as “action required”, “action committed” and “waiting for reply” that in conjunction with paired saved searches allow me to immediately see all emails that I need to follow up on etc.

    What I’m missing though is a feature to tag messages as I send them, e.g. tag a message with “reply requested” when sending it. As it stands now, I first have to send it and then go into the Sent folder and tag the message. Works, but it is easy to forget.

  25. I completely agree about tags. I was looking/hoping for something like tags in which I think is how most people think about tags. Instead its just the old slow label system with support for adding your own new labels.

    I do generally prefer TB2 though, nothing particularly impressive about it especially given the development time, but the performance of IMAP is greatly improved.

  26. The tagging system really works for me. I about 10 clients and have created a search folder for each that doesn’t contain the tag ‘Closed’. Therefore, I basically have a folder for each client with things to do that doesn’t get clutter with emails that have been read, actioned, replied to etc.

    Also, find it good for flagging particular emails such as job sign offs or important information – then use the view dropdown to find them quickly.

  27. Steve and James B have it right about tags. They are really useful. I would never go back to email without tags. You should try them out.

    I can now stop using folders to organize my emails and just use tags in conjunction with saved searches. These saved searches are “virtual folders” and show up with the normal folders. A huge advantage is that now an email can reside in multiple virtual folders. Also, a virtual folder can include several different tags.

  28. The tag system is completely worthless. When I tag a message as important, I expect it to keep the tag for as long as I need aso that I can quickly find it again. Alas! as soon as I minimize the Thunderbird/Eudora window and re-maximite it, the tag vanishes and the message looks like any other. I would also expect it to ” to the top of the jump up” in the pane listing inbox content regardless of how I have my view set – it didn’t do it in the Thunderbird’s latest version and it isn’t doing it in Eudora. How annoying! One more thing – the Sunbird Calendar so joyfully touted on the Firefox site doesn’t integrate weith the e-mail client (Eudora 8.0) and the other one (Lightning), supposedly integratable and seemingly (from screenshots, perfect, integrates only in Firefox/Thunderbird up to 2.0. Come on, Mozilla went through so many updates and didn’t think to update the Lightning? What a shame. One more thing, since I’m venting – how come the various installed dictionaries don’t automatically recognize the languages they’re for in the e-mails being written? It’ so annoying to have ALL the text underlined with red wavy lines as if it’s full of errors – that’s how I miss the real errors and typos, so I hope y’all forgive me 😉

  29. I too am frustrated with T-bird’s taging. I use tags as reminders but I want more from them than just nice colors.
    I’ve used DreamMail4 and it has a very nice tagging system. I can tag the email and “set-to-top” and it will always “be in my face”, so I don’t forget it. It would be great if T-bird had this feature. Could someone write an add-on to do this?

  30. I really like the tags feature on TB – I’d like to get rid of my folders altogether and solely use tags. Does anyone know if there is a way to undo clearing the tags on a particular message? I would hate to have a bunch of messages highlighted and accidentally hit “0” (shortcut to remove all tags) – I could see that causing havoc to my message organization…

  31. Thunderbird 3.1 is an improvement on tags. Yes they are useful, and can now be used for filtering. But if you say that is useless, then what shall we say of WordPress’ tags then?