Skip to content
Switch branches/tags

Latest commit


Git stats


Failed to load latest commit information.
Latest commit message
Commit time

ThunderLink - clickable, durable links to specific messages


Hey people! In case you hadn't noticed, thunderlink doesn't work so well on modern Thunderbird versions. The underlying APIs we used to make thunderlinks work no longer exist. This beloved module needed a complete re-think and re-write.

Guess what! The rewrite exists now! Head to and get yourself some modern thunderlinking going

Old Thunderlink README follows

ThunderLinks are durable hyperlinks to specific email messages.

Make a reference to the ThunderLink anywhere you want immediate access to the original message contents in full. For example, wikis, task trackers, etc.

Click on a ThunderLink later to open that specific message in Thunderbird.

You may customize ThunderLink formats to fit your needs.

You may even configure ThunderLink to tag the email while creating the link, enabling advanced workflows and more productivity!

ThunderLinks are durable even if you file the message. They are based on the unique message ID generated when an email is sent. This enables the Thunderbird email client to quickly and reliably find and select any email that exists in your Thunderbird mail store.


  1. Install the ThunderLink Add-On in Thunderbird -
  2. Register the 'thunderlink' protocol in your OS following the instructions below:


Download the "raw" version of the file that matches your Windows and Thunderbird versions, then double-click the file and confirm the registry script to merge it in to your registry:

These .reg files were generously provided by @mobileartur - please feel free to provide others or open pull requests to help other windows users. Note that 32bit Thunderbird is the current recommendation for Windows. For this reason we don't have registry files for 64-bit Thunderbird.

Linux (Tested on Ubuntu 18.04LTS):

  1. Get an example Thunderlink and test it directly.

    Right-click an email and choose "ThunderLink..." > "thunderlink". This will save it to the clipboard. It should look something like this:


    Next, test the thunderlink URL directly from the command line like this:

    $ thunderbird -thunderlink 'thunderlink://'

    If nothing happens, the addon is either not installed or not functioning. If the message ID is wrong, this will result in an error pop-up that says "Couldn't find an email message for ThunderLink". If it works, it will open the corresponding message. Proceed to the next step to start registering the thunderlink:// URL scheme.

  2. Check if the thunderlink:// protocol is already registered:

    $ gio mime x-scheme-handler/thunderlink
    No default applications for “x-scheme-handler/thunderlink”

    If you don't have gio, use xdg-mime instead:

    $ xdg-mime query default x-scheme-handler/thunderlink
    $ echo $?

    Blank output and a non-zero error code from xdg-mime mean it's not registered.

  3. Install the desktop file.

    These are the important lines in the desktop file:

    Exec=thunderbird -thunderlink %u
  4. Make the desktop file executable.

    $ chmod +x $HOME/.local/share/applications/thunderbird-tl.desktop

    This is necessary because of security precautions

  5. Register the x-scheme-handler/thunderlink mimetype to the desktop file.

    Using gio:

    $ gio mime x-scheme-handler/thunderlink thunderbird-tl.desktop
    Set thunderbird-tl.desktop as the default for x-scheme-handler/thunderlink

    Using xdg-mime:

    $ XDG_UTILS_DEBUG_LEVEL=2 xdg-mime default 'thunderbird-tl.desktop' 'x-scheme-handler/thunderlink'

    On most Linux distributions, these commands add this line:


    to the configuration file ~/.config/mimeapps.list under the [Added Associations] section.

  6. Check if it was successfully registered:

    $ gio mime x-scheme-handler/thunderlink
    Default application for “x-scheme-handler/thunderlink”: thunderbird-tl.desktop
    Registered applications:
    Recommended applications:

    If you don't have gio, use xdg-mime instead:

    $ xdg-mime query default x-scheme-handler/thunderlink
    $ echo $?
  7. Try opening a thunderlink directly with Thunderbird again:

     $ thunderbird -thunderlink 'thunderlink://'

    and then with xdg-open to test the desktop file:

     $ xdg-open 'thunderlink://'

    If the xdg-open command succeeds, then Thunderlink is installed properly.

  8. If xdg-open works but some applications do not, they may be using older configuration files.

    For example, some applications use the old location for mimeapps.list instead of ~/.config/. To fix this, edit this file with a text editor:

    $ edit ~/.local/share/applications/mimeapps.list

    and manually add this line:


    under the "[Default Applications]" group. (This location is listed as "for compatibility, deprecated" by the FreeDesktop standard.)

    Some applications read mimeinfo.cache instead of mimeapps.list, so regenerate the cache with update-desktop-database.

     $ update-desktop-database ~/.local/share/applications

    Note that this will not read the file at ~/.config/mimeapps.list, it will read the file at ~/.local/share/applications/mimeapps.list.

    There is also an even older deprecated file called defaults.list that is still used by some applications. Handle this in the same way; edit this file with a text editor:

    $ edit ~/.local/share/applications/defaults.list

    and manually add this line:


    under the "[Default Applications]" group.


    You may integrate directly with thunderbird using helper scripts as described here:

    Separately, it is possible to interoperate with on macOS and Thunderbird on (for example) Windows with the same links, following these instructions:


    Use the keyboard shortcut for the ThunderLink format you want (e.g. Ctrl-Alt-6) or right-click on an email and select 'ThunderLink...' and the format you want. You now have the ThunderLink to your email in your clipboard. You can paste it into your personal wiki, or your project teams wiki, or a new task entry in your task tracker for instance.

    If you would like a clickable ThunderLink with the email's subject, use a pattern like this: <A HREF="<thunderlink>"><subject></a> - this may be pasted into other systems that render HTML.

    If you registered the ThunderLink protocol correctly, a click on the ThunderLink will open your email directly using the ThunderLink options you configured (open in a new tab, open in a new window, etc)


    • Some task managers (for example, MyLifeOrganized (MLO)) require you to prefix the ThunderLink with `file:` to be treated like a link
    • You can configure very complicated ThunderLinks if you like. For example: ``` Email: -s Tomorrow -* @ Work;Email; file: ```

    Having trouble?

    In the unlikely event of a bug, please open an issue on the provided github link, taking care to include all the requested information.

    Care to contribute?

    For devs cloning the repo use make ' ' to create distributables for Thunderbird