How to speed up Thunderbird?

After suffering through slow and terrible performance with Thunderbird mail client (11.x and earlier), I did a bit of research to speed up accessing IMAP-based emails. Here’s what worked:

  • Disable Preferences -> Advanced -> General -> Enable Global Search and Indexer (Simply Uncheck the box)
  • In the account settings, <Account Name> -> Synchronization and Storage -> Keep messages for this account on this computer, uncheck this box. (If you need to keep copies of your IMAP emails, this should remain checked. But ask yourself why you would want to do this?)
  • Set the following at Preferences -> Advanced -> General -> Config Editor:
    • browser.cache.memory.max_entry_size: 32768

Pleasant performance boost resulted from the above tweaks. Good luck.

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7 thoughts on “How to speed up Thunderbird?

  1. Thanks. Great tips. I’ve been tweaking here and there, and slowing improving performance. These tweaks make sense. Just added them. IMAP sync with Gmail slow as sludge on my system.

  2. just giving this a try, hopefully it’ll speed up imap connections, but i agree.. it’s slower than a worm digging through concrete! the global search and indexer was great! went from 30/50gb on two machines down to 800mb (almost real inbox size, i do archive once a year!)

  3. Has worked a treat for me. I have been struggling with slow TB speed for some time but your tweaks seem to have fixed it. What actually do I lose by making these changes?

  4. (If you need to keep copies of your IMAP emails, this should remain checked. But ask yourself why you would want to do this?)

    The reason being is that it solves the problem you are trying to solve. Idle download of messages allows *instantaneous* response when reviewed (instead of waiting seconds for each download). If you wake up to 10 messages you can handle them much faster when they are already downloaded. This improvement is even more pronounced on googles slow IMAP servers.

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