Thunderbird Tags can be edited with the builtin about:config editor.
Go to Thunderbird Preferences (How you get there may change depending on your operating system) and on the "Advanced" tab click "Config Editor..."
You will probably (unless you've done this before and disabled the warning) be presented with a warning that changing these configurations can break Thunderbird. You'll need to click "I accept the risk!" in order to continue.
You'll then be presented with the about:config editor.
Type "tags" in the search bar
There are two entries for each tag.: A
.color and a
I'm not clear on whether Thunderbird records the
Preference Name or the
Value when you assign a tag to a message but I suspect that it is the
Value because this would explain why when I deleted all my tags through the default "Manage tags" interface and recreated them they were given the same order they originally had and were already applied to my emails. Please leave a comment with your experience to help us all figure out which way it works
So here's how to recreate your tags in a way that you can later insert new tags in the position you want them to appear in:
For each of your tags that you want to keep we are going to create a new custom tag for it in the order you want.
Right click on the about:config window and select "New" > "String"
Type Exactly but Replacing TAGNAME with a name for your tag. You can't change this once it's done but I believe you can unset it.
Press enter (or click ok), and enter
#000000 (this will make the new tag black. Feel free to enter a different color value if you wish, but it's probably easier to edit the color later with the "Manage tags" interface)
Value field can be changed, it's just the "Preference Name" that cant, but it's the preference name that makes the entry a tag.
Right click on the about:config window and select "New" > "String" again
This time type Exactly but Replacing TAGNAME with a name for your tag.
Press enter and type in the name of your tag.
Repeat this process with all the tags you want to keep, in the order you want them to be listed, but increment that 100 for each one.
mailnews.tags.100_TAGNAME.tag My new tag 1
mailnews.tags.200_TAGNAME.tag My new tag 2
mailnews.tags.300_TAGNAME.tag My new tag 3
mailnews.tags.400_TAGNAME.tag My new tag 4
If you now go back to Thunderbird and open the "Manage Tags" dialoge (you'll see the new tags you've just created. Note: You may have to close and reopen the Thinderbird Preferences window for it to show up
You can now edit the name and color of the Tag in this dialog.
But Why go to all that trouble when I can just click "New..." to create new tags?
The difference is all in that "100" in the Preference Name.
Tags are sorted by their
Preference Name NOT their
Creating a new tag manually with the Preference Name
means that if I later want another tag to appear BEFORE this tag I can create it with the name
and it will be listed first.
You might notice from the screenshot above that I figured this out after I took that screenshot, and in fact my tags still only have single digit numbers but they are in the right order for now so I'm not going to worry about it.
What about the shortcut keys?
I've found that the shortcut keys (0...9) for assigning tags are specified automatically to the tags in the order that they are listed in. Therefore if you later insert the tag above before
mailnews.tags.100_TAGNAME.tag it will obtain the shortcut key that was originally assigned to
mailnews.tags.100_TAGNAME.tag and bump all others after it up one.
For this reason I STRONGLY recommend that you only use Thunderbird Tags for temporary tagging and sort your messages into folders for more long term filing.
I hope this helps you customize your tags and improves your Thunderbird mail experience.
Feel free to ask questions or get in touch, but I'll warn you that I'm not quick to respond unless you can chase down my email address or phone number. ;-)