How to Fix: Disable Thunderbird Popup Notifications

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Bryan M. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

Thanks for your excellent article on how to disable Thunderbird email attachment reminders! I have somewhat of a related question. When I leave Thunderbird running in the background and if I'm surfing the web or perhaps even writing a document, Thunderbird pops up constantly with a new email notification window in the bottom right of my screen (by the clock), and it stays there for about 5 seconds. I imagine this wouldn't be an issue for most people, however I have multiple email accounts set up with Thunderbird and I receive a lot of emails throughout the day. Therefore, Thunderbird is literally barraging me with popups! Is there a way to disable the Thunderbird popup notifications? "

My response:

This is an excellent question. I personally use Mailwasher to preview my emails on my server before downloading them to Thunderbird in order to store the messages locally (for archiving purposes). However, sometimes I leave Thunderbird running (minimized to the tray bar) after clearing out my server's Inbox, only to have Thunderbird whomp me with a new email popup notification when a new email arrives - and it always happens when I'm in the middle of something. It's very distracting, and yes, it is annoying!

How to Fix: Disable Thunderbird Popup Notifications

Oddly enough, you cannot simply disable the Thunderbird popup notifications as a preference option somewhere in the program; you have to to edit the Thunderbird configuration file and modify a setting. It's not too difficult to do, but it is a bit cumbersome.

Below I'll explain how to disable the Thunderbird popup notifications, plus how to re-enable if needed:

  1. Launch Thunderbird.
  2. If you have the menu bar enabled, click Tools, then Options. If you don't have the menu bar enabled, you will need to click the 'menu' square (it has 3 horizontal lines) near the top right of the Thunderbird window, then click Options -> Options.
  3. The Options window will appear; click the "Advanced" (cog wheel) near the top of the window.
  4. After you've selected the Advanced tab, look near the bottom of the window and click the button that says "Config Editor".
  5. Next, use your mouse to highlight the line below:


    Right click over top of the highlighted line, then select Copy from the dialogue menu to copy it to your clipboard. Now, go back to the Thunderbird Config Editor, then right click over top of the search field, then select Paste to have "mail.biff.show_alert" paste onto the search line.
  6. You should now see "mail.biff.show_alert" displayed under the "Preferences" heading, and it should have a value of "True" under the boolean heading. To disable the popup notifications, double click the "mail.biff.show_alert" line so that the boolean value is set to "False". If you want to re-enable the Thunderbird popup notifications, simply double click the line again and set the boolean value to True.
  7. To make your changes stick, exit the Config Editor, close the Options window, then exit Thunderbird and restart it. You should no longer see popup notifications when receiving email.

I hope that helps.

Additional 1-on-1 Support: From Dennis

Are you using an old and outdated email program? Need something a bit more up to date and capable of automating your email? In that case, give Mozilla Thunderbird a try! Mozilla Thunderbird is an extremely powerful email client that is capable of handling multiple email accounts, archiving emails from a server to your local hard drive (I.E.: from gmail, hotmail, etc to your PC), and also has email filters so that you can direct emails into the appropriate folder automatically the moment they are received. It's the ultimate in email automation! If you need help migrating your old email client to Thunderbird or otherwise need help automating Thunderbird in one way or another, I can help using my remote desktop support service. Simply contact me via email and I'll do my best to get back to you as soon as possible.

Got a Computer Question or Problem? Ask Dennis!

I need more computer questions. If you have a computer question - or even a computer problem that needs fixing - please email me with your question so that I can write more articles like this one. I can't promise I'll respond to all the messages I receive (depending on the volume), but I'll do my best.

About the author: Dennis Faas is the owner and operator of With over 30 years of computing experience, Dennis' areas of expertise are a broad range and include PC hardware, Microsoft Windows, Linux, network administration, and virtualization. Dennis holds a Bachelors degree in Computer Science (1999) and has authored 6 books on the topics of MS Windows and PC Security. If you like the advice you received on this page, please up-vote / Like this page and share it with friends. For technical support inquiries, Dennis can be reached via Live chat online this site using the Zopim Chat service (currently located at the bottom left of the screen); optionally, you can contact Dennis through the website contact form.

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thedoorway's picture


You somehow missed the EZ way to fix this. I've been using it for years. Here's how.

1. Choose Tools/Options from the Thunderbird menu bar.

2. Under the General tab, then under "When new messages arrive:", UNcheck the "Show an alert" option and any other such options you don't want.

3. Click OK to exit the dialog box.

That's it. Easy peasy.

lgitschlag_3159's picture

Love Thunderbird. The only feature I'd love to see gone is the pop-up telling me how many emails I brought home after I'm done bringing them home from the server. Tired of the extra step to get rid of it.