I would love to get hjkl movement and some other vim-like keybindings, like / for search, if possible. I'm aware of Dactyl's thunderbird project, but it looks like it's in alpha. Similarly, Mutterator looks like it's not being actively developed anymore, and doesn't work with Thunderbird 7, which is what I use. If I could easily edit thunderbird's keybindings i think I could just do this sort of thing for myself.

I'm running Ubuntu 11.10, by the way.


Keyconfig allows you to configure keyboard shortcuts.

Read more about it here.

  • 2
    To install you have to right-click on the first word in the old first forum post "keyconfig" in the linked forum from "April 30th, 2004" and install the .xpi file in thunderbirds add-ons "as file" – rubo77 Oct 10 '14 at 5:42
  • As keyconfig/Dorando keyconfig no longer works with Thunderbird 68 (and the maintainer does not currently plan to update it, see addons.thunderbird.net/en-US/thunderbird/addon/…) this question has renewed urgency. If anyone has pointers on how to make even simple keyboard rebindings in Thunderbird 68, such as deleting messages with backspace rather than delete, please post here. Thanks! – Glen Whitney Oct 11 '19 at 20:50

Seems like the original keyconfig from 14 years ago is not compatible anymore with thunderbird 60.0 and up.

dorando-keyconfig is the official new supported version as far as i can tell. Some descriptions seem to be missing, but not a big issue (i.e. "Mark > As Read" is key_toggleRead).

Thanks to dorando and the new maintainers for keeping up the good work 👍.

Update 12/2019: As of Thunderbird 68 dorando is currently not supported anymore. A good (deep dive) source of current development can be found in the mozilla forums or directly at the github of the dorando project.

  • Thanks. This is the addon that works now. I can get by with it simulating Vim keybindings even without Muttator. – xji Nov 2 '18 at 0:08
  • Thanks for the link. Now I can finally get rid of the ill-advised single-letter shortcuts in Thunderbird. With Thunderbird's years-long issue of randomly re-routing keyboard input to the main window, this has been causing mayhem for me when typing emails. – EBlake May 31 '19 at 15:40
  • It seems with Thunderbird 68, even dorando-keyconfig does not work anymore. – hibbelig Dec 12 '19 at 11:48
  • @hibbelig - yes i can confirm the problem. Guess it's time to hunt for another replacement again :( – icyerasor Dec 12 '19 at 13:39

You can unzip Thunderbird's chrome and edit the .dtd files within them, which usually contain the key bindings, if you want something that's not extension-dependent. Here's an example from a DTD file for my extension:

<!ENTITY removedupes.remove_duplicates_menuitems.remove.accesskey "D">
<!ENTITY removedupes.remove_duplicates_menuitems.set_originals.accesskey "o">
<!ENTITY key-removedupes.modifiers "alt,shift">

this is of course much less convenient than using KeyConfig, but that's the low-level non-dynamic way to do it.

  • which chrome.jar file do you refer to? I couldn't find any on my linux system – rubo77 Oct 8 '14 at 20:05
  • @rubo77: Ok, doesn't necessarily have to be a JAR. Example: ftp.mozilla.org/pub/mozilla.org/thunderbird/releases/latest/… has a bunch of dtd's – einpoklum Oct 8 '14 at 20:19
  • So what is your suggestion? KeyConfig is not available any more for Thunderbird 31 so how can I customize my shortcuts? can You add an example how to disable the "j" shortcut for junk for example? – rubo77 Oct 8 '14 at 21:36

The old-but-still-functioning keyconfig Add-On could do this for you:

To install this, you have to

  • right-click on the first word "keyconfig" in the old first forum post here from "April 30th, 2004"
  • install the keyconfig.xpi file in thunderbirds add-ons "as file"
  • open the settings for the extension "keyconfig 20110522", there you can configure all key-shortcuts you like

The addon MenuWizard allows you to configure plenty of keyboard shortcuts for Thunderbird. For basic vim/gmail-like bindings, you can set j, k, o, and e (or y) to key_nextUnreadMsg, key_previousUnreadMsg, key_OpenMessage, and key_archive, respectively.

Unfortunately, you cannot search among the shortcuts in Menuwizard so you have to scroll around and look for the relevant key. The key_<name> is more informative than the name next to the checkbox.

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