ThunderbirdPlus add-on for NVDA, more efficiency and comfort when using Thunderbird

Version : 4.9.5, 2023.08.07



This add-on greatly improves the Mozilla Thunderbird messaging client’s comfort and efficient use with NVDA.

Improvements relate to the following aspects:

Auditory Comfort

The Folder Tree view

The Message List

Quick Filter Bar And Priority Tag Management

The Message Write Window

Alt+1 announces the Sender, Alt+2 announces the Recipient, Alt+3 announces the Attachments, etc. Two presses place the focus on one of these fields;

Spell-check Dialog

Automatic Update

ThunderbirdPlus contains an independent auto-update system with deactivation/reactivation and postponement features;

Side-to-side Operation with Chichi

ThunderbirdPlus is designed to work seamlessly with Chichi, an add-on that installs directly onto Thunderbird.

Read about this on the page of Chichi ;

A Note About Languages

Some features will not work properly if ThunderbirdPlus is not translated into the language you use with NVDA and Thunderbird.

To date, the add-on is available in the following languages:

Original version in French : written by the developer;

Translations from oldest to newest order:

Thank you, translators.

This hereby concerns the tab containing the following panels: folder tree view, message list, header pane and message preview (shown or hidden via the F8 key).


When tabbing from the message list to reach the text, the header area is skipped. To reach this header area, press Alt+one digit on the alphanumeric keyboard three times quickly, then press Escape to exit the header context menu. These Alt+digit shortcuts reduce the need to go to the header area. For more details, see the “Header viewing” section below.

Message List, Preview Pane And Separate Reading Window

Some of the following shortcuts are common to these three contexts, others relate to a particular context.

Accessing Attachments (Alt+Page down)

Quick And Uncluttered Message Reading

Quick Message Reading From The List Without Leaving It (Spacebar, F4 or Alt+down arrow)

To benefit from this feature, you will have to display the message reading pane with the F8 key first. By pressing this key, you will hear if this pane is present or absent;

Next, go to the message list and use the following keys:

And to complete the commands available from the message list, let’s mention here:

Quick Message Reading In A Separate Window Or Message Tab (F4 or Alt+Down Arrow)

When a message is opened in a new window, the message body is read automatically by default. However, the following shortcuts allow you to hear the message again at any time.


Viewing columns and headers:

It is important here to distinguish between columns and headers: the word “column” is used below to indicate the value of a row cell in the message table. The word “header” refers to the message itself. Headers can be viewed both in the message preview pane and in the separate tab or window of an open message;

Viewing Columns: one Digit On The Alphanumeric Keyboard

These keys are for columns in the message list only. Type a number on the alphanumeric keyboard without pressing the Shift key:

Header Reading: Alt+one Digit On Alphanumeric Keyboard

The following shortcuts can be used from the main window if the preview panel is displayed (via F8) and from the separate tab or window of an open message. One tap speaks the header and two taps displays a context menu as appropriate;

Adding And Removing Priority Tags: Shift+ digit On The Alphanumeric Keyboard

This feature allows you to mark a message as important or to do, for instance. Next, the quick filter bar will display only messages with one or more tags. For example, only important messages in the message list are shown;

To verify which tags are already placed on a message, press Alt+0 on the alphanumeric keyboard.

To add or remove a tag, press Shift+ number 1 to 9;

Quick Filter Bar (Letter F Or Control+Shift+K)

Filtering By Tag

When the focus is placed on the edit field of the Quick Filter bar:

Column Layout (Alt+c)

The shortcut Alt+c displays a dialog that lets you change the order of the columns in the message list, but also add or remove columns.

To use it, first go to the message list or folder tree view and press Alt+c;

The column layout dialog appears. It consists of the list of columns as well as the “Help”, “Columns” and “Close” buttons.

The “columns…” button displays Thunderbird’s native “Choose Columns to Display” menu

When you are in the column list, the following keyboard shortcuts are available:

You can also use the following direct movement shortcuts:

To perform such moves, the columns are actually displaced by drag and drop with the mouse. A one-millisecond beep is heard every 10 pointer movements;

When the “Choose the columns to display” menu is present, you can use the following keyboard shortcuts:

With the left and right arrows, it is therefore very easy to switch between the menu for choosing columns and the column layout dialog;

SmartReply: Reply To All Mailing Lists By Pressing Control+r

If you’re one of those who forget to press Control+Shift+l to reply to a mailing list like GoogleGroups, this feature will save you from privately replying to the sender of a message without realizing it.

You can always press Control+r as follows:


The use of single or double keystrokes is possible with GoogleGroups, Framalistes and FreeLists.

When using a single keystroke, with one of these three mailing lists, you will hear “to the list” before the write message window opens.

You should also not use the “Reply All” command to reply to a list so that the sender does not receive your reply privately;

And finally, if you want to return to the usual Control+r function:

Hotkeys A, J, M Spoken

Folder Tree view

Quick Navigation Of Folders Containing Unread Messages (Alt+Down Arrow, Alt+Up Arrow)

When in the folder tree view, you can press:

While on this matter, see also the two dialogs below:

Note: When there is a large number of folders, Chichi operates instantaneously, unlike these two dialogs;

Filtered Lists Dialog Of Account And Folders (F12)

This dialog displays the accounts and their associated folders in two separate lists. You can filter them on the base of a keyword or restrict the folder list to those containing unread messages.

Setting the default view mode:

If you plan to display most of the time folders containing only unread messages, first go to the folder tree view or the message list, then use the shortcut Shift+Grave. In the main window options submenu, choose the item entitled: Show only folders containing unread messages.

Basic use of the dialog:

Toggling view modes:

Keyword filtering usage:

Excluding Certain Folders From The List Of Folders Containing Unread Messages

As stated above, you can exclude seldom or never accessed folders from the list of folders containing unread messages.

All you have to do is rename a folder to exclude by adding a hyphen to the end of its name.

It is necessary to point out here that if the renamed folder is part of a message filter, Thunderbird will automatically modify this filter to reflect this change.

List Of Folders In The Main Tree view, Based On 4 Types (F7, NVDA+F7 Or Shift+F12)

When you are in the folder tree view or message list, this command displays a dialog with a folder list that can have the following four layouts:

For folders containing unread messages, Drafts and Trash folders and folders with names ending with a hyphen are excluded from the list;

To activate one of these types, you can press the associated keyboard shortcut or Shift+Tab and then use the arrow keys to toggle modes.

The type chosen will be memorized and activated the next time this dialog is displayed;

You can also filter the list by keyword. Press Tab or Alt+e to reach the edit box.

Navigation in a flat list or tree view is done with the up or down arrows as well as by the initial of a folder name;

To activate the selected folder in the main tree view, simply press Enter on it.

Tip: If you were to press Enter on a folder containing unread messages, press Space to select the first unread message in the message table;


Keyboard shortcuts that display this dialog can be removed and another can be added via NVDA’s Input Gestures setting dialog. Follow these steps:

Alerts Made Accessible

For alerts requiring your intervention, the buttons are accessible and navigating them can be done using the arrow keys:

For alerts that interfere with message list browsing:

Keyboard Shortcuts for Tabs

Besides new commands, tabs are announced as in this example: Tab 1 of 4, Inbox

The Add-ons Tab

This add-on makes it easy to find and install add-ons for Thunderbird.

## The Write Window

When the write window opens, nothing special is noticeable although the following keyboard shortcuts are available:

Note: this menu is reached through one or two Grave key presses depending on the setting in the write window options menu obtained by pressing Shift+Grave once or twice;

### Spell Check Dialog: F7

Keyboard shortcuts that limit hand movement have been added. When the focus is on the replacement word edit field, you can use the following keyboard shortcuts:

To remember these combinations involving the Enter key, Control refers to the “Ignore” action and the presence of Shift indicates “all occurrences”.

Moreover, the Alt+up arrow shortcut spells words:

Improved spell check mode while typing

Note : this section was translated from French into English by Google ;

Despite the spellings added to the spell check dialog, it is sometimes necessary to close the dialog to hear the context of the mistake in the text. This done, this dialog restarts the spell check from the beginning and stops again on the words that we had voluntarily ignored previously.

Spellchecking while typing avoids these inconveniences but can distract the writer with “Misspelling” announcements.

In order not to be distracted by spelling errors while typing, this checking mode has been improved by adding three keyboard shortcuts:

Before activating them, it is necessary to switch to navigation mode by pressing: NVDA+space;

This mode of operation allows you to disable NVDA announcing mispelled words ;

Before using this improved mode of spell chech while typing, it is necessary to carry out a small configuration.

Preliminary configuration

1: In Thunderbird, Enable spell check while typing in Settings :

2: Disable reporting of misspellings in NVDA This setting is optional. If you prefer to hear an announcement about a mispelled word, you can also shorten this announcement by replacing in your pronunciation dictionary “mispelled word” by “misp”, for example;

To disable this ad:

Using w, -shift+w and NVDA+F7 hotkeys

Thunderbird+ Options And Commands Menus

Options Menu (Shift+Grave)

Main window options:

If you do experience a blockage when you open this window, you can extend the delay before Automatic reading starts. To do this, press Alt+d and type a different value. If you are unable to remove this blockage, then check this option;

Options for the write window:

Update options:

This option lets you disable Thunderbird+ automatic updates or re-enable them;

Deactivations for Chichi and Thunderbird+:

The main purpose of these options is to allow a good cohabitation between Thunderbird+ and Chichi by avoiding duplicate features. But you can use them without Chichi to suit your preferences;

The term “folders” below refers to the folder tree view;

Backing up and restoring settings:

Commands Menu (Grave)

Enhanced Thunderbird startup

Natively, after Thunderbird’s last closes, it launches on the last active tab and without activating anything, which is rather unpleasant.

To get a comfortable start, there are two add-ons that install directly on Thunderbird:

With Chichi

To use Chichi, read the Download and Installation section together with the Set the Startup Folder section of the Chichi WebPage;

With Start with inbox

As of October 2022, the latest version of this Thunderbird 102 add-on was 2.5.2.


A drop-down list allows you to choose the email account for which the inbox folder will be selected when Thunderbird starts;

Three radio buttons will allow you to choose between focusing the last message, the first unread message in the message list or the folder in the tree view;


Set Start with Inbox options:

Start with Inbox - Settings

Please select the account for which its inbox shall be displayed after start of Thunderbird.

Drop-down list: <your first email account>

Select and put the focus on:

clickable radio button not checked: the latest* message.

Clickable radio button not checked the inbox folder in the folder tree view. radio button checked: the first unread message.

If the inbox contains no messages, the inbox folder in the folder tree will be selected and focused.

If the Inbox folder contains no messages, this folder will gain focus in the folder tree view;

When you have defined your settings, restart Thunderbird.

Built-in Thunderbird launcher via AltGr+

For convenience and speed, you can launch Thunderbird by pressing AltGr+Grave.

This shortcut is configurable via NVDA’s input gesture manager which offers greater freedom to choose modifier keys than Windows shortcuts, limited to AltGr;

Follow these steps to add another input gesture: