E-Mail Merge with Thunderbird


This procedure explains how to create multiple, customized e-mail messages using data in a spreadsheet.

  1. One-Time Setup
    1. Set up Thunderbird to Work with bMail
    2. Install Mail Merge Add-On
  2. Procedures for Sending a Mail Merge
    1. Create a Spreadsheet
    2. Send a Mail Merge Message

  1. One-Time Setup

    1. Set up Thunderbird to Work with bMail

      1. Set bConnected (Google) Key
        • Go to: https://idc.berkeley.edu/mmk/auth/index
        • Authenticate, choose "bConnected," and then choose the account name from the list
        • Click the "Set Key" button and then the "Define your own" tab
        • Create your own key (do not auto-generate it). Choose a passphrase that is at least 9 characters and which will be easy for you to remember. Click "Set Key" button again and you should get a confirmation page on your browser and an email confirmation from donotreply@berkeley.edu.

      2. Enable IMAP in bMail
        • Open bMail, click on the gear icon (top right), and select "Settings"
        • Click the "Forwarding and POP/IMAP" tab
        • Select the "Enable IMAP" radio button
        • Click "Save changes"

      3. Configure Thunderbird for bMail
        • Open Thunderbird
        • Pull down "File" menu and select "New..."
        • Select "Existing Mail Account"
          • Your name: [your full name]
          • Email address: [your fully-qualified @berkeley.edu address] (e.g. magdalene@berkeley.edu)
          • Password: [your new Google key from step 1]
        • Click "Continue" button
        • Click "Manual Configuration" button
          • Incoming: IMAP   imap.gmail.com   993   SSL/TLS   Normal Password  
          • Outgoing: SMTP   smtp.gmail.com   587   STARTTLS   Normal Password  
          • Username: [your fully-qualified @berkeley.edu address] (e.g. magdalene@berkeley.edu)
        • Click "Done" button
        • Make it your default thunderbird profile by pulling down your "Tools" menu and selecting "Account Settings." Click on your @berkeley.edu address in the left side column, and pull down the dropdown menu at the bottom of the column and select "Set as Default."
        • Close and re-open Thunderbird: Remember to log in with your Google key.
        • If you plan to continue to use the bMail web interface, DO NOT MANIPULATE YOUR EMAIL IN THUNDERBIRD.

    2. Install Mail Merge Add-On

      Since the Mail Tweak Thunderbird extension is overkill for our needs, we now recommend Mail Merge. All of this should be done as the user who wants to send the mail; no administrator privileges are required.

      1. In a web browser, go to the Mail Merge installation page: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/thunderbird/addon/47144/ and click "Download Now."
      2. It may take a moment or two, but a dialog box will pop up asking what you would like to do. Choose "Save File" and put the .xpi file on your desktop. (It might automatically go into your "Downloads" folder, which lives in your"My Documents" folder, which is fine too.)
      3. Start Thunderbird, pull down your Tools menu and select "Add-ons."
      4. From the options (cog icon) button next to the add-on search field, select "Install Add-on From File.."
      5. Find the .xpi file you downloaded and click "Open."
      6. Click "Install now"
      7. Click "Extensions" in the left-side column and, in the right-side pane, click "Restart Now" (next to "Mail Merge")

      Now the extension is set, and you can send a mail merge message any time.

  2. Procedures for Sending a Mail Merge

    1. Create a Spreadsheet

      1. Create an Excel spreadsheet with the data you want in the message, including the full e-mail address. Make sure there is a header row with names for all columns; these names must not contain spaces. (The file should look something like this snapshot.)
      2. Save the spreadsheet as "CSV (Comma delimited) .csv" (If you closed Excel and viewed this file in a text editor, it would look like this snapshot.)

    2. Send a Mail Merge Message

      In Thunderbird

      1. Start a new message. Any parts of the spreadsheet that you would like to include in your message must be enclosed in 2 sets of curly braces {{ }}.
        1. In the To: field, put the column name you chose for the email address surrounded by 2 sets of curly braces: {{columnname}}.
        2. Add a Subject
        3. Draft the body of the message, enclosing the column headings for any parts of the spreadsheet that you would like to include in 2 sets curly braces.

        Using the example spreadsheet created above, you message would resemble this snapshot.

      2. Pull down the "File" menu and select "Mail Merge."
      3. A dialog box should pop up. Change the top dropdown box to say "Personal Mail" and click the "Browse" button. Find your .csv file and select "Open." (Using the example above, the dialog box should look something like this snapshot or, if you're using a later version of Thunderbird, this snapshot.)
      4. The message should disappear. Still in Thunderbird, click the plus sign next to your "Local Folders" and an folder called "Outbox" should be there with some new messages in it (one for each email address on your spreadsheet). (Sample snapshot.)
      5. When you open a message you should see the fields from the spreadsheet filled out.* (Sample snapshot.) When you are ready to post them, pull down the "File" menu and select "Send Unsent Messages."

      The mail merge add-on has online documentation if you'd like more detailed information.

    3. * If you draft your message in plain text (rather than html), you may end up with a number of blank spaces at the beginning of your message. To avoid this problem, before you draft your message:

      • Pull down your "Tools" menu and select Add-ons
      • Click the "Extensions" tab and then the "Options" button under Mail Merge.
      • In the pull-down menu next to "Format," select text/plain
      • Click "OK" and close the "Add-ons" windows. You may now draft your message.

Maggie Crowley
created 3 December 2010

Last updated:
Mar 11, 2015 12:10

EECS Administrative Computing Group | acg@eecs.berkeley.edu
University of California, Berkeley