Mozilla Thunderbird, Portable Edition 3.0 Released by

John T. Haller's picture
Submitted by John T. Haller on December 8, 2009 - 11:51pm

Thunderbird logoMozilla Thunderbird, Portable Edition 3.0 has been released in Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Dutch, English, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil and Portugal), Russian and Spanish (Spain and International) packages. It's the popular Mozilla Thunderbird email client bundled with a launcher as a portable app. This release updates Mozilla Thunderbird to 3.0, with it's greatly enhanced features. It's packaged in Format so it can easily integrate with the Suite. And it's open source and completely free.

Read on for more details...


portablethunderbird_small.pngMozilla Thunderbird is the safe, fast email client that's easy to use. It has lots of great features including quick message search, customizable views, support for IMAP/POP, RSS support and more. Plus, the portable version leaves no personal information behind on the machine you run it on, so you can take your email and adress book with you wherever you go. Learn more about Mozilla Thunderbird...

New In This Release

The included Thunderbird has been updated to 3.0 (release notes) and features an enhanced launcher and installer.

2.0 Still Supported

The 2.0 version of Mozilla Thunderbird, Portable Edition is still being actively maintained and updated. Users of some extensions such as the Lightning Calendar and Task extension will need to continue to use the 2.0 version until a compatible version of Lightning is released.

GPG 1.4.9

GPG, in conjunction with the Enigmail extension, allows you to sign and encrypt your email. Learn more about GPG and Mozilla Thunderbird, Portable Edition. Installer / Format

Mozilla Thunderbird, Portable Edition is packaged in a Installer so it will automatically detect an existing installation when your drive is plugged in. It supports upgrades by installing right over an existing copy, preserving all your email and settings. And it's in Format, so it automatically works with the Suite including the Menu and Backup Utility.


Mozilla Thunderbird, Portable Edition is available for immediate download from the Mozilla Thunderbird, Portable Edition homepage. You can get the German release from the German homepage and the French, Italian, Japanese and Simplified Chinese releases from the Localization page. Get it today!

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This is such a great release, thanks to all who created it!
The new super-fast search is so slick and the grouped and archive folders are very handy.

Is GnuPG 2.0.13 already in the works?

Thanks Mozilla and John! I've been excited about this release for so many months! Smile

Toshiba is better to the environment than a lot of common electronic companies. Check out Greenpeace's Guide To Greener Electronics 8)

Thanks a lot for your great work - and of course Thanks to Mozilla.
I have to wait, until Lightning comes out.

Anyways, you are all doing an outstanding job.


I've installed TB3 Portable, and I'm having a problem. I've imported one of my accounts, probably 10% of my email, and already the TB3 directory is over 500MB.

The issue is a file called "global-messages-db.sqlite", which apparently keeps a bunch of indexing data. Is anybody else having this issue? I imagine that once I've imported all of my data, the TB3 directory will be 2GB+. That's a really large portable piece of software.

Maybe I'm doing something wrong?

Have you tried pulling down the File menu and selecting Compact Folders?

I don't imagine it should need to compact right off the bat, but maybe something was weird with the importing and blew the database up.

Edit: We really shouldn't be talking about issues in the release announcement. Switch over to a thread of your own if you still have a problem, OK?

neutron1132 (at) usa (dot) com

Actually, no need to move the thread. I uninstalled TB3 portable, then re-installed. Adding accounts again, and I'm not seeing what I did before. Things are a much more managable 200MB or so.

by going to Tools/Advanced/General and removing the tick from the 'Enable Global Search and Indexer' box. My initial install of 3.0 was also 1Gb+, but I did it again without the indexing and it's now much the same size as 2.0. The search functions still seem to work just fine (though I don't use search that much).

John T. Haller's picture

As with all apps in Format, just install the new version over the old one.

There have been some issues with incompatible extensions and certain settings in TB2 with TB3, both local and portable, so doing a backup first is best. It's really best practice whenever doing a major version upgrade of an email client, web browser, operating system, etc.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

Hiya all,

When I double click a name in the address book, none of its details are shown (ie the fields are all completely blank.)

Anyone else have this problem?

Plus, the Address book doesn't open in a tab, neither do replies or new emails... which I would have thought was an obvious use of tabs...

Not so impressed at the mo...

John T. Haller's picture

Try posting full details in the forums. I'd wager an incompatible extension, especially one of the address book mods like Google Contacts or something. Try disabling all your extensions and restarting. Also be sure you installed TBP3 right over TBP2. If it still fails, try doing a clean install of it as detailed here:

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

I upgraded from version 2 to 3 by copying the version 3 files over version 2.
I had uninstalled all plugins before upgrading.

While opening thunderbird 3, only the logo appears and the thunderbird processes

fortunately i have a complete backup, so no worries about the data.

anyone having similar problems ?

John T. Haller's picture

You can't copy v3 over v2. It'll break. You need to use the installer and install directly over it so that it can remove files used by v2 that are no longer needed and will actually break v3.

The upgrade process for all Format apps is to install right over your existing version. It's designed to work that way. If you have additional issues, please post in the forums.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

my bad. it's working properly after i installed with the installer.

When changing the profile directory within thunderbird.ini. Emails can still be received and sent, but extensions do not stay installed.
I mean you can install them, but after restarting TB portable the extension (morefunctionsforadressbook in my case) does not exist in the extensionslist and is also not available for e.g. changing options.

When the profile resides within the data directory of the TB portable install it works fine.

The thing is I want to keep my data separated from the applications on my USB stick.

John T. Haller's picture

It may not support directories "above" ThunderbirdPortable.exe anymore in Thunderbird itself. Thunderbird happened to work right with this before, but it was never supported and always stated that it may break in the future when anyone asked. The readme states: "ProfileDirectorty... must be a subdirectory (or
multiple subdirectories) of the directory containing ThunderbirdPortable.exe." So if you're using ..\..\PathTo\Profile, Thunderbird may not like getting -profile "D:\PortableApps\ThunderbirdPortable\..\..\PathTo\Profile" anymore, so it will no longer work. We always figured Thunderbird may just stop accepting it with some version, which is why we always recommended against doing it.

I'll look into having the path translated in NSIS itself in the TBP launcher. We've already dropped the ability to support custom directory layouts from many apps, though, as it's a good amount of extra work support and codewise for not much benefit.

Overall, it's MUCH better to keep it in the standard layout and use the standard backup tools or Toucan with custom paths to backup. There's no advantage at all in terms of protection from data loss or corruption to having it in a separate directory on your USB stick, anyway. All it does is make backups a little easier (drag and drop the directory) but since you can do the same with 3 clicks in Backup, and you don't need to manually configure every app, it doesn't really buy you anything.

You even lose out on some updates by using non-standard layouts. For example, your TBP3 doesn't have its IMAP cache disabled by default (which slows things down), because the prefs.js wasn't where it's supposed to be.

If you want to discuss it further, please drop a note in the forums so we don't hijack the comments in this news story.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

Darkbee's picture

I like the opening of emails in tabs! Nice!

Looks pretty slick so far, thanks for the release.

John T. Haller's picture

As indicated on the Thunderbird Portable homepage, Lightning is not yet available for TB3. Lightning 1.0 Beta 1 is scheduled for this month and will be compatible. Until then, you should stick with TB2.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

Lighting 1.0b2 is out, but my TB 3.0.11 says it's not compatible. Is that correct? What's the status of a compatible version of Lighting? Is there a way to go back to an earlier version of TB that has a compatible Lighting extension?

Sorry if these are things I should know. I've just switched over from U3 apps to Portable Apps and I'm still learning.


John T. Haller's picture

Upgrade to the current Thunderbird release. Lightning's current release is only compatible with the current Thunderbird, which is 3.1.10.

You're also posting in a news story from 2009 for some reason. Please create new posts in the TB Portable forum for support questions.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

Thanks John,

I posted here as a reply to a post that seemed relevant which had come up when I searched the forums for an answer to my question.

I've just moved over from U3 to PA and am trying not to ask questions that have already been answered.

I'll try what you suggested.

Thanks a ton, John. It went as smooth as can be. I hated finding out U3 was dead, but I'm really liking PA a lot.

What would be the best forum for me to subscribe to as a newbie to learn more about PA?


just read your way around. the forums are sorted by app so if you want to learn about thunderbird, go to the thunderbird forum. the general and development forums deal with the more general questions.

"What about Love?" - "Overrated. Biochemically no different than eating large quantities of chocolate." - Al Pacino in The Devils Advocate

Running from a turbo 8GB thumbdrive. runs like the firefox app...slow and take 30 seconds or more to update or bring up emails from Gmail.
Mark "all read" does not work. I am not impressed...v2.0 worked much more efficient and without the major lags this version holds.

John T. Haller's picture

Most 8gb drives are significantly slower than older 4gb and 2gb drives. So even the 'turbo' ones, aren't, unless you spent at least a $50 premium on them for high end components.

It's the full text indexing slowing it down on your drive. You can disable it and it will perform just like TB2.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!