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I prefer to manually mark new messages as read, to avoid accidentally having an important message go unnoticed or be misplaced. To this end, I have disabled the option which automatically marks messages as read; in Thunderbird 52.5.0 this is found under Options > Display > Advanced > Reading.

However, when I delete a message it is moved to the Trash and automatically marked as read. How do I preserve the unread status of a message when deleting it?

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There is no option to solve this, and also so far no add-on (extension) which provides it. The feature is requested in bug 545504. Given the bug's history I'd say it's unlikely to happen soon, if ever.

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