How to Fix: Thunderbird Paragraph Mode (Press Enter Twice)

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Fran G. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

Thanks so much for your recent articles on Mozilla Thunderbird. I have a question regarding Thunderbird as well. Whenever I respond to an email from someone, during the composition I usually press Enter twice on the keyboard to start a new paragraph. This happens most of the time. However, if I start a new email and then begin a new paragraph, I only need to press Enter once on the keyboard. This is very inconsistent and confusing! Can you explain why this is and/or explain how to fix it so paragraphs are the same all the time? "

My response:

If I am not mistaken, I believe what you are referring to is called "Paragraph mode" in Thunderbird. In previous editions of Thunderbird (prior to version 45 released April 2016), the default composition setting was "Body text" mode when responding to or composing an email - however, this changed recently to "Paragraph mode".

My experience is similar to yours. When I respond to an email using Mailwasher (which is what I use to preview my emails before downloading them to Thunderbird), the default composition mode is "Body text", but if I use Thunderbird to write a new email, it's in "Paragraph mode". Note that you can see which mode you're in by composing an email, then look just below the "Subject" line - it will say "Paragraph" or "Body text".

How to Fix: Thunderbird Paragraph Mode (Press Enter Twice)

If you prefer to press Enter twice to insert a new paragraph (instead of pressing Enter once), you will need to do the following:

  1. Launch Thunderbird.
  2. Click Tools -> Options if you have the menu bar enabled. Otherwise, click the box with three lines (the "menu" button) near the top right of the screen, and then click Options -> Options.
  3. The "Options" window will appear. Click the "Composition" menu option near the top of the window.
  4. Next, click the General (tab) near the top. Now, look for the heading called "HTML", and un-tick the option that says: "When using paragraph format, the enter key creates a new paragraph". This will change the default to "Body text" instead of "Paragraph" when composing or responding to an email, which means that you will now need to press Enter twice to create a new paragraph.

I hope that helps!

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Phil's picture

I'm a long-time user of Thunderbird, and you have twice now helped me undo Mozilla's "helpful" changes of its default behavior. I really deplore the way companies change the way their programs behave - without asking users - in the course of maintenance upgrades. Just because they or their programmers have decided that they like a different way of working doesn't mean their users want it foisted on them unasked.

Would it kill them to ask? They should pop up a question saying,

"We've decided that we like to do XXX a little differently. (Click here for more information on this.)

Would you like us to make this change for you? Yes - No"

The link to more information would include not only what the changed behavior would be and why they recommend it, but also how to switch back and forth yourself if you wish.

Humility, not arrogance, is the way to build loyalty.