I would like for Thunderbird to show replies to threaded messages in with the received messages. Is this possible, even with an extension?

The desired behavior would be something like how Zimbra's threaded email view works.


8 Answers 8


GMail Conversation View does what you want without having to copy replies into your folders. Sometimes it doesn't properly pull in your replies, and it doesn't start conversations if you initiated them, but it is the most similar to gmail I have found.

  • 2
    Combine this and gatorbrit's answer and I've basically got what I want. Thanks guys!
    – Colin Dean
    May 5, 2010 at 22:01
  • 2-year update: Switched to Postbox, has excellent conversation view. TB is still lacking in this (and most) respects.
    – Colin M
    Jan 16, 2013 at 4:33
  • 5
    This plugin unfortunately makes significant changes to the Thunderbird UI going far beyond just showing replies in the same folder. Mar 7, 2013 at 16:19
  • 2
    I don't know if it's improved but I was using GMail Conversation View a few years ago and it made Thunderbird a bit unstable. Oct 23, 2013 at 9:57
  • 2
    ThreadVis extension for Thunderbird
    – huggie
    Jul 9, 2014 at 0:40

You need to go to the account settings for the account and select Copies & Folders, then check the box "Place replies in the folder of the message being replied to"

Also enable sorting by thread.

THis will replicate the gmail effect I think.

  • Combine this and user30075's answer and I've basically got what I want. Thanks guys!
    – Colin Dean
    May 5, 2010 at 22:01
  • 10
    This works but it goes against Google’s recommendations for IMAP clients (to not make copies of sent messages, sent GMail already does that anyway), and slows down mail delivery by a factor of two as the message is not just sent but also copied into your folder (including big attachments). What is needed is to just see the sent message in the folder, not to really copy it there. Mar 7, 2013 at 16:10
  • 2
    Obviously for POP and SMTP as opposed to IMAP setups this works a treat and doesn't duplicate messages. The sent replies only appear in your inbox, not in your sent mail folder, which actually works really well in practice. Nov 11, 2013 at 10:10

It "is" built-in on thunderbird now, if you do the right steps:

There is the Global Inbox (if there isn't one, you have to activate it at View >> Folders >> Unified from this tip)

Go on its properties at "Select the folders to search:"
and click on "Choose...", you will see that your top inbox is checked;
just check the "sent" one, click "ok", and "Update".

Now, go to your top "inbox" that is the global one, activate the threaded column and you have a three with all incoming and outgoing messages!

Obs.: thunderbird version 31.4.0 here.

PS.: follow @hvd comment below to restrict the messages shown to a single account (in case of multiple email accounts)!

  • 17
    Or, if you prefer not to use the Global Inbox, create a custom search folder: right-click the account, choose "Search Messages", then "Save as Search Folder", and customise it exactly as you did. It's the same thing under the hood, but for me (with multiple mail accounts, that I do want to keep separate), looks closer to how I like my mail.
    – hvd
    Nov 18, 2014 at 11:28
  • 1
    @marmistrz right click and select properties, btw, my thunderbird is v.31.4.0 May 13, 2015 at 0:42
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    @marmistrz I just saw that the global inbox (named simply "inbox") is also a saved search, most probably there is some problem with your installation. Here I found some other info, not sure if will help you. May 14, 2015 at 21:43
  • 4
    I just installed thunderbird on my Mac yesterday, newest version of course. the unified inbox is not a saved search, there's no "select folders to search" on the properties pane, I had to create my own saved search folder. Jan 10, 2017 at 15:35
  • 3
    This answer thread does exactly what the OP asked for without requiring external add-ons Dec 12, 2019 at 16:47

If you use Gmail. Your thunderbird will sync the folder structure which includes an "All Mail". Use this folder instead of "Inbox" and use the threaded view will make the threads include sent replies.

I prefer this way to the plugin "Thunderird Conversations" because the plugin is very slow to load when the thread is very long. And sometimes the plugin doesn' t display attachments properly. And this way avoids the extra costs of the option "Place replies in the folder of the message being replied to" will incur.

For other mail users, adding a new virtual folder might also do, see: Combine in- and outgoing mail in Thunderbird in one folder . This inspired me that Gmail includes such a folder already.


Yes, Thunderbird can show sent replies in a threaded view.

  • Right click on any message in a thread.
  • Select Open Message in Conversation.
  • Alternatively press Ctrl + Shift + o.

A new tab will open showing the messages in a thread pulled from both 'Inbox' and 'Sent Mail'.

I wish this was available directly in the Inbox but it's better than nothing.


If you set Thunderbird to place sent mails in the Inbox folder you can achieve it. This works great for me. I use my Inbox as 'ongoing issues'. So, placing the sent messages (that could be thought of a new issue or a reply to an ongoing issue) in inbox is ok.

  • how would I do this?
    – clankill3r
    Sep 22, 2020 at 13:49

I use the Copy Sent to Current extension to do what it says.... that way I have my sent emails in the sent folder for archival purposes as well as in the folder I was in when I composed the email. That combined with the threaded view gets me the perfect conversation.

Edit: the only problem is that when you search for a conversation, it displays the replies both from your inbox/archives folder AND the sent folder, so perhaps you don't want to use this. But I thought I'd put the option out there.


Click on the header of the left-most (usually) column give you the threaded view.

  • 1
    While this enables thread view using mail in the inbox, it unfortunately does not show thread replies from the Sent folder--this is the behavior which I desire.
    – Colin Dean
    Nov 29, 2009 at 5:06
  • 1
    Try ThreadVis addon for Thunderbird.
    – huggie
    Jul 9, 2014 at 0:40

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