Whenever I create a new label in my Gmail account, this creates a new IMAP folder. Sadly, that new folder does not show up in Thunderbird unless I restart Thunderbird.

This is not specific to Gmail. When I create a new IMAP folder on my own server, the result is the same.

To clarify. Here is what I'm doing. First, I create a new label in Gmail: enter image description here

But now it won't show up in my Thunderbird folder tree. Even though it knows about the folder and it is subscribed to: enter image description here

When I restart Thunderbird, the folder shows up just fine. I would like it to show up without restarting Thunderbird.

  • 5
    I had a similar problem except reloading Thunderbird did not cause the missing folders to show up. The accepted solution still fixed the issue, though. Nov 29, 2016 at 14:47
  • Thunderbird bug report: bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1723329 Sep 23, 2021 at 1:04
  • Seems to be fixed and work exactly as explained above for my v 91.7.0.
    – Dirk
    Jul 25, 2022 at 17:57

12 Answers 12


In version 10.0.2 (current) and most recent versions:

Click on the account line in the folder tree (the line just above the Inbox)

You should get a screen of options, find Manage folder subscriptions and click on it

  1. Click the Refresh button
  2. Close the folder list window
  3. Click the little triangle at the top level of the account in the folder tree to hide the folder list
  4. Click it again to show the folder list

I've just confirmed that this works for me in 10.0.2

  • 2
    That doesn't do what I want. The new folder appears in the subscription dialog (and is subscribed to). But it won't appear in my folder tree. Feb 21, 2012 at 14:11
  • 7
    Didn't work when I tried it, but after collapsing and reopening the folder list in Thunderbird it appeared. I've edited the answer to include those steps. Work for you? Feb 23, 2012 at 20:31
  • 4
    Every time I tried it, I was already subscribed to the new folder. So that wasn't the problem. What actually made the difference was collapsing and expanding the tree. Thanks ;) Feb 23, 2012 at 20:43
  • 2
    I had the collapse/expand the parent folder (not the top level folder), not the top level folder for these steps to work.
    – justderb
    Sep 29, 2014 at 0:09
  • 15
    In newer versions, at least in Thunderbird 38.3.0, the "Manage folder subscriptions" is called "Subscribe...", and you need to right click the "account line".
    – andrybak
    Nov 12, 2015 at 8:47


I think in that website you can find more useful information about Gmail x Thunderbird. Also, I found out in other forum the following:

Thunderbird refreshes the folder list when it connects to the server, in particular, at startup. You can force a refresh of the folder list any time by collapsing and re-expanding it.

Collapsing and expanding the folder list for the whole account worked for me.

  • Yes, that's what I was missing as well. Thanks :) Jun 29, 2012 at 16:17
  • +1 I just wanted to use Thunderbird to move mail from a certain label to another account (like magp.ie/2012/11/28/…), and I also had to remove my subscription to the Inbox to get it to actually start. Mar 2, 2015 at 18:41
  • This is the correct solution -- tested for Thunderbird 38. Oct 5, 2015 at 9:37
  • This is still correct in 2023, tested in Thunderbird 115, works a treat. Oct 4, 2023 at 19:51

If you uncheck Tools » Account Settings » Settings » Advanced » Show only subscribed folders, it will display all folders.

That worked for me.

  • 2
    Finally a solution! Weirdly, the other solutions wouldn't even disappear a folder that didn't exist on the server anymore. As soon as I unchecked this option, that folder disappeared and new folders reappeared.
    – Pricey
    Nov 8, 2017 at 11:00
  • That made the "Sent Items" folder appear for me (which is the one that would not show). In my TB52, when I click on "subscribe..." the window does not show any folder as being subscribed, and interacting with those checkboxes has zero effect - there's a bug somewhere or else a setting is saved incorrectly. I'd like to know which config file to inspect.
    – bgmCoder
    Aug 7, 2021 at 21:30
  • You can right-click on the account and choose Subscribe.... Then check the missing folders.
    – Kpym
    May 13, 2023 at 7:43

I know this is a old thread. But this seems to work:

Tools -> Options -> Advanced -> General -> Config Editor

Search for:


Change to true


mail.server.default.check_all_folders_for_new = true

The open and close, settings come into effect.

Hope it helps someone else.

  • I believe this setting refers to whether an account is set to poll for new mail. That would be completely unrelated to the refresh in question.
    – Allen
    Dec 30, 2019 at 1:18

(Somewhat) surprisingly, in 2015, with Thunderbird 38.2.0, forcing Thunderbird to refresh the IMAP folder tree after adding a new directory/folder is still necessary.

I'm amazed that the answer is exactly as Randy Orrison described and Oliver Salzburg confirmed, above, over 3.5 years ago: How can I force Thunderbird to reload IMAP folder structure

Every time I tried it, I was already subscribed to the new folder. So that wasn't the problem. What actually made the difference was collapsing and expanding the tree. Thanks ;)

I had quit and relaunched Thunderbird, double-checked that I had subscribed to the IMAP folder in question, subscribed/unsubscribed, quit and relaunched again... nothing forced the new directory to be displayed — until I twirled-up and twirled-down the little arrow immediately to the left of the Inbox (in the folder pane panel). As soon as I did that, the new directory appeared!

It's curious to note that the new IMAP directory in question was "two levels deep", too. The structure was Inbox -> Subdirectory 1 -> Subdirectory 2, where Subdirectory 2 represents the IMAP directory that was just added. I mention this mostly to assert that the depth of the directory whose "arrow is twirled" seems not to matter, as long as the twirled directory is a parent of the directory that won't appear. Maybe twirling the top-level arrow, next to the account name, is the best option, since presumably it will force all subdirectories to be displayed (I didn't try that).

Thanks to everyone who contributed to this most frustrating problem's resolution! Full credit to Randy Orrison for the original solution.

Who's game for opening a bug report (or citing an existing report)?

  • If I understand your post, this is just commending other posters for something that worked for you rather than introducing another solution. Answers should really be reserved for solutions to the question and each answer should provide another solution. With a little more rep, you will be able to upvote useful answers and post comments with supplementary helpful information.
    – fixer1234
    Sep 9, 2015 at 23:30
  • 2
    Thanks, fixer1234. Having read your thoughtful remarks, and having reread the accept answer more carefully as a result, I agree with your assessment. I feel it prudent to note, however, that the accepted answer instructs the user to "Close the folder list window", which is where he or she lost me. Maybe I use some "old school" view that is bound to my Thunderbird profile, but I don't have a "folder list window"; it's displayed permanently as a "docked pane" at left of my screen. When I saw this step, I ruled-out the answer, focusing only on the key comment. Sep 10, 2015 at 2:32

So Thunderbird 68.8.0 and possibly others

Find the "Hidden menu with the advanced configurations".

In my installation it lives in Preferences, General, Config Editor.

You need to "accept the risk".

I have set mail.imap.auto_unsubscribe_from_noselect_folders;false mail.server.default.using_subscription;false

Actually don't know which of these two options is the one or if both must be selected. In some recent version, you can maybe change this elsewhere, but not in my instance.

  • Thanks for this. I was having the problem that I couldn't unsubscribe from imap folders. Setting mail.imap.auto_unsubscribe_from_noselect_folders to true, restarting TB, then setting it back to false and restarting TB a second time solved my problem :) Dec 10, 2020 at 10:52

It seems that the mechanisms and tricks of folder synchronisation has changed a lot since the OP. I could not follow the instructions given in many of the other answers. The following worked for me in 2022 (v91.7.0). Actually it is quite similar to the post of 10 years ago.

Screenshot of Thunderbird dialog with folder::subscribe item selected in drop-down menu

  • Right-click on folder line (the one above the Inbox folder). Clicking on other lines will not give access to the next step.
  • Select "Subscribe" item from the drop-down menu. A dialogue pops up.
  • Check boxes for the folders that you want to see, uncheck those you don't want. The dialogue allows multiple selections/actions at once.
  • Close the dialogue.

The list should be updated now. If newly added folders are big, it may take some time to synchronise their contents though.


As none of the proposed solutions worked for me to get the disappeared subfolder to show in the sidebar on the left, I had to try something else. For me the folder was suggested on right click as a folder to put mails, but I had to create specific filters in the search field to view the folder, because it didn't show up in the sidebar.

My solution was to permanently rename the folder - for some reason it disappeared again if I renamed it back to the original name.

  • 1
    Renaming did the trick for me when everything else failed.
    – Olaf
    Oct 29, 2015 at 9:29
  1. Click on the account line in the folder tree.
  2. In the main window click on the Folders management (Settings section)
  3. Click on the refresh button
  4. Choose folders for synchronization

This was driving me nuts and none of the previous answers worked for me. Following the advice to check/refresh the folder subscription settings would only show the new folder in the subscription dialogue — and even then not indicating that it has subfolders, which it has. Still, after countless restarts of TB, frantic reloading of the folder structure by collapsing and expanding the folder tree on all levels, the new folder and its subfolders wouldn't show up in the account pane. Host is all-inkl.com, where I couldn't find any settings to show/hide folders from mail clients.

So if anyone stumbles upon the same problem, here's what fixed it for me:

  1. right click on the mail account in the accounts pane
  2. click Settings > Server settings > Advanced
  3. make sure Server supports folders containing subfolders and messages is checked

Restart TB for good measure and enjoy.


I'm a Linux/ LXLE user using Thunderbird with an Outlook account. What worked for me was to do two things:

1) In Thunderbird, I went to Edit> Preferences> Account Settings> Account Actions >Remove Account

I removed my email account from Thunderbird and closed the program.

The second thing I did may not have any effect on the result. However, I:

2) Went into Synaptic and completely removed the Thunderbird package then reinstalled it.

After that, I went back into Thunderbird and was then able to re-enter my email account and password- just like when setting up a new account.

A few seconds later the missing files and folder tree were restored from the remote servers.

Try step one on its own and see.

Hope it helps!

  • 1
    Even if that works, I would hardly call this a solution. This answer should be deleted.
    – Jonathan H
    Mar 15, 2017 at 16:38
  • Both steps are on the extreme side but Step 2 is definitely overkill: uninstalling a package won't actually remove the ~/.thunderbird/ settings from users' home directories. Feb 5, 2019 at 16:56

THB is nice sw and user friendly, but works as toy, I must back to outlook (most antiuserfriendly sw on the world) THB: I fear for every actualizing, all synd 3rd party sw no works.


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