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.

  • 4
    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. – Quolonel Questions Nov 29 '16 at 14:47

10 Answers 10


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

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    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. – Der Hochstapler Feb 21 '12 at 14:11
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    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? – Randy Orrison Feb 23 '12 at 20:31
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    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 ;) – Der Hochstapler Feb 23 '12 at 20:43
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    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 '14 at 0:09
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    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 '15 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 :) – Der Hochstapler Jun 29 '12 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. – We Are All Monica Mar 2 '15 at 18:41
  • This is the correct solution -- tested for Thunderbird 38. – Jan-Philip Gehrcke Oct 5 '15 at 9:37

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

That worked for me.

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    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 '17 at 11:00

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 '19 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 '15 at 23:30
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    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. – Ben Johnson Sep 10 '15 at 2:32

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 '15 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.


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 :) – James Hibbard Dec 10 '20 at 10:52

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 '17 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. – Anthony Geoghegan Feb 5 '19 at 16:56

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