Thunderbird: Check all IMAP folders for new mail

This is a little trick to make the Thunderbird e-mail client check all folders for new mail without activating the “Check this folder for new messages” manually on all my folders. This is useful since I have my e-mail filters run on the server using procmail.

Add the following line to your user.js (create the file if it doesn’t exist)

user_pref("mail.check_all_imap_folders_for_new", true);

Locate your profile folder

Before the configuration files are presented, you should know how to find
your profile folder, which is where Thunderbird saves all your settings on your hard drive.

  • On Windows Vista/XP/2000, the path is usually
    where xxxxxxxx is a random string of 8 characters. Just browse to
    C:\Documents and Settings\[User Name]\Application Data\Thunderbird\Profiles\

    on Windows XP/2000 or C:\users\[User Name]\AppData\Roaming\Thunderbird\Profiles\
    on Windows Vista, and the rest should be obvious.

  • On Windows 95/98/Me, the path is usually
    C:\WINDOWS\Application Data\Thunderbird\Profiles\xxxxxxxx.default\
  • On Linux, the path is usually
  • On Mac OS X, the path is usually

%AppData% is a shorthand for
the Application Data path on Windows 2000/XP/Vista. To use it, click
Start > Run… (use the search box on Vista), enter
%AppData% and press Enter. You will be taken to the “real” folder, which is
normally C:\Documents and Settings\[User Name]\Application Data on Windows XP/2000,
C:\users\[User Name]\AppData\Roaming on Windows Vista.


3 thoughts on “Thunderbird: Check all IMAP folders for new mail

  1. I know this is an old post, but it still ranks high in Google for this issue.

    This is a very roundabout way of doing it, here is the easy way (you don’t even have to restart Thunderbird):

    1. Open “Tools”, “Options”

    2. Click on the “Advanced” icon, then on the “General” tab, then on the “Config Editor” button

    3. Notice the warning about being careful

    4. In the search line type “imap_folders”

    5. A few lines down you should see “mail.check_all_imap_folders_for_new”, and the word false. Just double click it to change it to true.

    6. OK all the way out.

    1. Changed to mail.server.default.check_all_folders_new in later Thunderbird releases ( Checked against Version 15 )

      1. preferences > advanced > general > config editor > search for: “mail.server.default.check_all_folders_for_new”
        > double click on the setting to set it “true”

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