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I have several elderly (75 and 80+) family members that are reasonably able to use a computer.
(I'm actually quite proud of them that they got so far. They all never touched a computer until well in in their 70's.)

But they all struggle with the same problem (and as the family Helpdesk I get to deal with it).
Using Thunderbird for email goes reasonably well, but there is one aspect they somehow keep managing to mess up.
The Inbox view: They manage to hide columns/change the sort-order and they don't know how to set it back to normal.

From observing them using the computer it is clear they do it by accident. None of them has very good eye-hand coordination with the mouse. They move the mouse over the top bar of the Inbox view while accidentally keeping a mouse-button pressed. This changes sort-order when they hit any of the column-headers (left mouse button), hides a column (right mouse button) and sometimes they manage to hit the button that activates the column-selection menu and they accidentally toggle entries in that menu.

Thunderbird retains the last used configuration over restarts, so the only way to get it back to "normal" is to select "Reset to default" from the column-selection menu. Even though they sometimes manage to find this menu "by accident", I have found it next to impossible to have them be able to reset it by themselves.

Any action that is not in plain sight and requires another action to bring it into view (like clicking a button to call up the column-selection menu) is just to complicated. I can explain and demonstrate it to them again and again and they keep forgetting how to do it.

So that leads me to my question: Is there a way to make Thunderbird "forget" any user-changes to the columns of the Inbox view on startup so it always starts with the default columns and sort-order?
If there is such a possibility I can setup their Thunderbirds to always startup with the desired layout.
I have been looking through all the advanced config settings and there doesn't seem to be any way, but I might be missing something.

Please note: Use another mail-client isn't an answer. Getting them to Thunderbird (from Outlook Express and Windows Live Mail) was painful enough a couple of years ago. The Windows 7 to Windows 10 transition didn't help either. I'm not going to force another transition on them.

  • A non-technical solution, but you could always just write them a note that explains how to reset the view. That way they have something to refer to if they forget. – Matti Virkkunen Nov 2 '20 at 12:12
  • @MattiVirkkunen Done that. Full instruction with pictures. That works a couple of times. Then they think they know it by heart and throw it away. 3 days later my phone rings again... – Tonny Nov 2 '20 at 12:47
  • At that point I would probably tell them to go get the instructions back from the trash... – Matti Virkkunen Nov 2 '20 at 15:14
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Unfortunately, no. Not today, and nothing coming soon that I know of.

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