Things to Know When Converting from Thunderbird to the bMail Web Client

How to adapt Thunderbird activities to bMail

(Note: some of these answers involve enabling Labs. These features are not officially supported and may go away in the future.)

See also bMail Tips and Tricks.

How do I...?

Put colored tags on messages:

Your starred messages in Thunderbird will migrate as yellow stars in bMail.

Use "stars". Start by going to Settings, General, scroll down and drag stars from the not in use line to the in use line, then Save changes at the bottom of the page. Now on any message, click on the star outline in the table of contents or next to the date in message view. If you click on the star multiple times, it cycles through the available "stars"–note that these include multiple colors of star plus other symbols like checks, question marks, and exclamation points. You can search for starred messages using "has" in the search box, e.g., "has:green-star".

Since a message can have multiple labels, you can also use labels for this. Create a label, for example "urgent" (it will appear as a new item in your main mail label list on the left-hand side), and then hover over this new label and click the small triangle to its right. Here you can assign a color, like bright red.

Use email templates:

Your Templates folder will transfer over from Thunderbird but its contents will be converted to regular messages.

Go to Settings, Labs, and enable the Canned responses lab, scroll to the bottom of the page and save changes. Then use the Canned responses menu from the down-arrow in the bottom right corner of the compose window on either a new message or a reply.

Create a group in contacts:

You can export and import Personal Contact Groups from Thunderbird to bMail.

Pick Contacts from the black bar at the top of the bMail page; it will open in a new tab/window. Choose "New Group" on the left and name the group. If you want to choose from people you correspond with frequently, choose Most contacted on the left. Then click the checkbox on people you want to add, click the button at the top with the three heads and the down arrow, and add them to your new group. If they are at UCB, you can search for them at the top of the Contacts page, and then check the checkbox and add them to your group. If they don't come up either of these ways, you'll need to use the New contact button to create them as a contact, then add them to your group.

Send email as someone else:

Because this process requires confirmation from the person whom you're sending as, you may want to give him/her a heads-up before you start.

Go to Settings, Accounts, Send mail as. Click on Add another email address you own. Fill out the form--make sure to uncheck "Treat as an alias" if the new address is for a different person (e.g., a department or committee chair). If you want replies to come to you rather than the apparent sender, click Specify a different "reply-to" address. On the next step, choose "Send through UC Berkeley Mail (easier to set up); this should be the default. Then continue and choose Send Verification. The other person will get a mail message asking them to verify that it's OK for you to send mail as them.

NOTE: When someone sends mail as someone else, their personal email address gets sent along with the address of the person for whom they're sending mail. For example, the from header looks like this:

Prof. Dave Culler <> (sent by
This only seems to appear when the receiver is using bMail. Desktop email clients don't seem to display this information.

Do a mail merge:

There isn't a simple or standard way to do this in bMail as of May 2013. If you will need to do this, please contact your tech support person several days in advance, and we'll show you the possible alternatives.

Useful Labs for ex-Thunderbird Users

There are a number of things that bMail cannot do without Labs. Be sure to click "Save Changes" at the bottom of the Labs page when you're through selecting what you want to use.

Unread message icon
See how many unread messages are in your inbox with a quick glance at the tab's icon. Note that this will only work for the Inbox: if you filter your mail so that new mail goes to another folder, you will not be notified in the tab.

Mark as Read Button
Mark message as read without reading them.

Automatically shows the next message or conversation instead of your inbox after you delete, archive, or mute a conversation.

Preview Pane
Provides a preview pane to read mail right next to your list of conversations. When this Lab is enabled, you will see a drop-down menu (the icon has a number of horizontal lines, like a page) in the top right corner of your message list. "No split" is list view only, "Horizontal Split" allows you to see the first few lines of the message or conversation below the list.

Canned Responses (Templates)
Use the Canned responses menu from the down-arrow in the bottom right corner of the compose window on either a new message or a reply.

Things You Can do in bMail Which You Couldn't Do in Thunderbird
– But Wished You Could –

Undo Send
Stop messages from being sent for a few seconds after hitting the send button.

Things You Can't do in the bMail Web Client

Sort a mailbox table of contents.

Instead, to find older or newer messages use dates in bMail search, e.g., "after:2004/04/16 before:2004/04/18" or "older_than:6m" for messages older than 6 months. To find messages from/to a particular person, search for their email address (e.g. or just janp). You can use "has:attachment" in search to find messages with attachments. You can click the down-arrow on the right side of the search box to get a form to fill out for options if you don't want to remember the exact thing to type in.

Another thing you cannot do is change your mail to display in chronological order (oldest first).

Access local mail folders

The bMail web client can only see mail that is in bMail. You can continue to use your existing Thunderbird configuration to view saved mail in local folders.

Set the priority on messages you send

The bMail web client just doesn't support this feature. It also doesn't support it when reading mail, so even if you could set the priority anyone who reads mail with the bMail web client won't see it.

Access mail without a network connection

If you really need to do this, talk to your tech support person.

Paste as a Quotation

You can no longer include text in a mail message that reads as a quotation. To format text to look more like a quotation, you can click "Formatting options" (the icon looks like an underlined A), select "Align" and then select "Indent more."

Back to CalMail to bMail Migration main page

Jan 07, 2014 08:26

EECS Administrative Computing Group |
University of California, Berkeley