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I'm looking for a way to make two or more separate sections inside of my inbox (not creating folders or starring).

So maybe a section for "Mailing list emails" one for "Waiting on other people" - that sort of thing. This could make my inbox be significantly less daunting.

Gmail has priority inbox - so kind of like that, with the ability to move things in between sections based on customizable things, not necessarily priority.

Revised Description: Ok - I'm looking for one of two things: 1) A way to split an inbox into sections where I can drag/drop between the sections to assign a different customizable 'tag' to the message OR 2) A way to tag messages sort of like Message Filter looks like it would do (and then allow me to sort them). #1 is preferable. This would make it so I could put messages of one type (say from a mailing list) in a category so they're not in the way of the other 40-50 messages I actually want to deal with

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I posted a bounty. We'll see if we get some more ideas. You may be asked to add details to your question. Good Luck! – yhw42 Sep 30 '10 at 16:22
oh wow thanks! that's a great feature – dfree Oct 1 '10 at 22:58

The only option I've used is the built in message filters. You can find that under the Tools menu. You can filter them by email addresses and contents of the subject line and apply actions automatically to the message. Actions like adding tags or moving to a specific folder.

If you don't want to use the folder structure, I believe your only option to use the tags. You could have all items that are from a certain list of emails get tagged as "work", anything referencing algebra as "class", etc. Then you could do a query for all the messages that have that tag.

Edited to Add: The only add-on I've found (but haven't used) is MessageFilter, which uses "multi-level bayesian filtering..." but the reviews have been mixed so YMMV.

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I meant more in the way of a plugin - I know the functionality isn't built into thunderbird, but figured someone else somewhere might also want it and has made something already – dfree Sep 20 '10 at 8:39
@dfree: thanks for pointing out your interest in plugins. (I added a bit to my answer in response.) You may want to rephrase your question to explicitly say add-on/extension. – yhw42 Sep 20 '10 at 14:03
oh that's a good find, thank you yhw42. the problem is that it's not compatible with thunderbird 3.0. i do remember coming across a way to edit the xpi and change the "version number" in the file itself, but now I can't find how to do it. any ideas? – dfree Sep 26 '10 at 20:10
I found a description on how to do that here, but I've never done that before. Good luck! – yhw42 Sep 26 '10 at 21:31
Ok - the xpi editor solution works (I knew it had to do with changing the extension of the .xpi); -- however the extension itself is a tool for channeling mail INTO folders automatically -- so not quite what I'm going for as far as creating customizable inbox sections or tags to make the inbox more manageable. Any other ideas? – dfree Sep 26 '10 at 23:39

Thunderbird has a mechanism to tag/label email which might be suitable, without using any extension.
From mozillaZine Tags :

Tags are descriptive, colored text assigned to messages, used to organize and group messages. Tags can be manually assigned by keyboard, or by message filters.

View -> Sort by -> Tags can sort the messages in a folder based on the tag. View -> Messages -> Tags can be used to display just the messages with the selected tag. The View list box has a similar menu command. You can also create a custom view using View -> Messages -> Customize that displays just the messages with the desired tags. Using tags with saved searches can be very useful.

See Mozilla Thunderbird Tips and Tricks for way of customizing the look of tagged/labelled messages. See also How to use Thunderbird to get things done how to create your own tags.

Tags can be assigned by Message Filters. The following shows creating a filter in Thunderbird 2:


Here are some extensions that work with tags:

Tag Toolbar

This extension adds new toolbar and display the tags you have created as toggle buttons; the added toolbar is called "Tag Toolbar" and the space for showing tags is called "Tag Bar". You can attach/remove tags to/from the selected messages. The tag buttons' states are changed automatically, so you can easily know what tags are attached to the message. Moreover, you can filter the tags to be displayed by categorizing tags. You can create and change category from the listbox on Tag Bar.

alt text

Tag Dialog

Easily add or create tags.

alt text

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Wow, great find harrymc. Can't believe I didn't think of that. Not surprising that t-bird would have this functionality available. It has everything I'm looking for EXCEPT one crucial feature: The ability to then have certain tags automatically sort to the top or bottom of the inbox based on classification. Does that make sense? That way I could change a tag to "mailing lists" or "waiting on someone else" and have it automatically go to the bottom of my inbox - or classify something as "urgent follow up" and have it go to the top – dfree Oct 1 '10 at 16:13
A different section for those classifications would be great, but less essential imo – dfree Oct 1 '10 at 16:18
You can sort by tags. You can then also group by tags, which is like having separate sub-folders (View | Sort by | Grouped By Sort). – harrymc Oct 1 '10 at 17:03
This is close, but not 100% of the way there - t-bird does know to sort based on date after sorting by tag which is good, but there are two problems with doing it this way. 1) all the tags must be together - i.e. you can't have one set of tags go on top of the rest of an unclassified inbox and one set of tags go below it. 2) the tags don't process in real-time, so you'd have to click out of the folder and come back to it to see your classifications update – dfree Oct 1 '10 at 23:17
Indeed they don't re-sort immediately. You can launch a query in the TB forums to ensure that this isn't simply a bug. – harrymc Oct 2 '10 at 11:10

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