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I use Thunderbird with two rather large IMAP accounts (one has a total of 30 000 messages across all folders) and for the last month Thunderbird has become a bit slower, not too much but still noticeable, especially when I switch folders.

In reference to an earlier SuperUser Firefox question about the location bar becoming slower over time (and which was solved with some hidden history about:config setting):

Are there any useful (hidden or not) Thunderbird settings to make it more responsive for large accounts and folders (e.g. my 'sent items' and 'archive' folder contain >10000 items)?

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And why do you still need the 30 000th e-mail back in time? There is no setting that allows you to magically make them shrink; you should archive them outside Thunderbird or you could work yourself towards 0 mails, check out the top two answers on our Personal Productivity - Inbox Zero question... – Tom Wijsman Aug 22 '11 at 12:38
@Tom: edited my question to be more clear that I meant large IMAP accounts and not large folders. Regardless, it's not because my Inbox has zero messages, that my Archive or Sent Items folder is empty... – Rabarberski Aug 22 '11 at 13:19
An Archive, at least in the context of a e-mail client that does it properly, is not actively loaded but rather on demand. As for the Sent Items; there is again no reason to keep that 30 000th e-mail you sent back in time. A large IMAP account is large folders, it doesn't magically make the content to not be on your disk. – Tom Wijsman Aug 22 '11 at 13:30
@Tom: gmail (in a browser) does manage to load large mailboxes/folders very quickly, and doesn't require me to change my behaviour, delete emails, or look up the apparent definition of Archive. They somehow found an answer to 'magically make them shrink' My question is: how can I make Thunderbird do this (better). – Rabarberski Aug 22 '11 at 13:36
If you're using Thunderbird through GMail, its default behavior is to keep most of the messages in memory and to load the headers from Gmail on demand. – digitxp Aug 22 '11 at 14:02

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