Thunderbird Profiles – Multiple Users & Easy Backup

Thunderbird is a very popular email client. Many people are not awareThunderbird logo that Thunderbird allows people to maintain multiple profiles. Thunderbird profiles have multiple uses. First, obvious use is that if the same computer is used by two or more people, then you can configure separate profiles for each person. Second use of profiles is that it allows you to customize the folder that is to be used to store the emails. This way you can easily backup your emails and use it across multiple operating systems.

How to create profiles

First thing to note here is that multiple profiles are not supported by Thunderbird portable. So you will need to install Thunderbird to use profiles. After installing Thunderbird, profile manager is not enabled by default. To open the profile manager, create a shortcut to Thunderbird on the desktop. Right click on this shortcut and select properties. Click inside the target field and press the end key on the keyboard. Type the following (without quotes) ” -P” (space minus P). The whole thing should now look like this:

“C:\Program Files\Mozilla Thunderbird\thunderbird.exe” –p

Launching Thunderbird Profile Manager

Press OK and exit the properties dialog. Now launch Thunderbird using this shortcut. This will launch the profile manager.

Thunderbird Profile Manager

To create a new profile, click on the Create Profile… button then press next. Enter a name for the profile and press finish. It’s as simple as that. You can create multiple profiles from here.

On the profile manager dialog (shown above), uncheck the box that says Don’t ask at startup. Now even if you launch Thunderbird from any other shortcut, the profile manager will be displayed.

How to use custom location for storing emails

With profiles you can store your emails, contacts etc. at a location of your choice. This will allow you to take backups easily. It will also allow you to share the folder across operating systems if you have multiple OSs installed. The same folder can also be used from both Windows and Linux.

To choose a folder for a profile, in the dialog box where you enter the profile name, click on the Choose Folder… Button.

Using custom folder for storing profile data

Select the folder where you want the emails and other data to be stored.

Now whenever you are reinstalling Thunderbird or installing it on a different OS or computer, just point your profile to this folder. All your emails, contacts, toolbar configurations, addons will remain same, you won’t need to do anything. To take a backup, just copy this folder to an external hard drive.

Launching multiple profiles

Normally Thunderbird does not allow you to launch multiple profiles at the same time. However, if you want to do this, there is an addon which will allow you to. The Profile Switcher addon helps you quickly switch profiles without closing Thunderbird. You get an new option in the File menu to launch another profile. When you launch another profile through profile switcher, you can also keep the existing profile open.

Launching multiple thunderbird profiles simultaneously

Protecting a profile with password

If you want to password protect your Thunderbird profile, you can refer to this tutorial.

One Response to Thunderbird Profiles – Multiple Users & Easy Backup

  1. Antonin Bukovsky says:

    Dear Gourav,
    You are a genius – I wonder why the Thunderbird help is missing anything about Profile Manager. I used it for years, but was not able to instal it on a new computer.
    Thank you very much,

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