Missing Buttons, Toolbars or Menus in Thunderbird.

I'm not at all sure what is driving this, but whilst toolbars have always been customisable, the one dependable aspect of a computer's GUI used to be the menus; they were always visible. Recently they seem to have become optional, and when they have vanished, you need to know some keystrokes to see them again. Thunderbird users find that sometimes when updating Thunderbird, previously visible menus or toolbars go into hiding.

Thunderbird 17 introduced a further change. A new Toolbar button, which looks like this:

has been added. This displays a new menu system which largely echoes the traditional menus, but allows Thunderbird to be consistent with Windows 7 styling, where in-program menus have been largely removed. At the time of writing, this menu offers an option entitled New Message, but it would more usefully be labelled New, as it offers rather more than just a new message. Some users have reported that not all functions that can be found under the traditional menus can be found here in the App Menu.

If you wish to restore the traditional menus on a Windows or Linux computer, <alt> or F10 will usually make a menu re-appear, then you can select the View option on the menu. On a Macintosh, <ctrl>+F2 then V. Now you can select Toolbars. and then re-select any missing items. 

This option may also be found in the App Menu under Options (Windows) or Preferences (Linux).

Bear in mind that Thunderbird has several windows, and this advice applies to each and all of them, so you must open the offending window first.

Toolbars in Thunderbird can be customised. Open the window where you see the relevant Toolbar. Right-click on the toolbar. If you see a Customise option, select that. If you don't, right-click somewhere else. Some toolbar buttons have their own special right-click actions, so you don't see the usual system menu. Note that the previous View|Toolbars menu shown above also offers a route to this customisation feature.

The window's customisation pane will appear. This has a collection of buttons, spacers and separators that you can drag onto the Toolbar. Whilst this pane is open, you can also drag buttons about on the toolbar to organise them as you wish. You can also drag unwanted buttons off the toolbar onto the customisation pane.

The things you are manipulating here are buttons. They respond to a single click. They do something other than change a view, so I resist calling them “Tabs”, even though Windows 7 styling seems intent on blurring such useful distinctions. They are not icons either since “icons” are pictures, not controls per se.

If you get into a mess and want to start over again, go to Help on the menu (or press <alt>+h) and select Restart Thunderbird with add-ons disabled. When it restarts, you will be shown an option to reset toolbars and controls.

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