"I can't find Tools|Options"

Thunderbird and Firefox are designed to run on three platforms; Windows, Macintosh and Linux. Each of these systems has its own native menu system, and in order to comply with the local style, the menu structure in Thunderbird is adjusted to suit. This makes giving directions rather hard, since it often doesn't occur to users that what they see won't be what everyone else sees. My own style is to give directions through menus like this:

Tools|Account Settings|<select account>|Server Settings→Server Settings→Leave messages on server

where the blue bit is intended to be understood to be a link. Clicking on Tools|Account Settings in the line above will take you to a mozillazine article about this topic:


It is intentional that it says …Server Settings→Server Settings… because there genuinely is a page called Server Settings containing a sub-section called Server Settings. I generally use vertical lines (or "pipes": |) to indicate layers of a menu system, and arrows (→) to indicate that the feature you want is on the current page or tab. Making it bold helps set it off against other text so you know which bit is being quoted and which bits are my words. Since the majority of computer users around the world use Windows, it's pragmatic to give explicit directions suited for Windows, and let the Mac and Linux users work out their local variation on the theme.

So, in the above, on a Windows computer, it means following this sequence:

  1. Main Thunderbird window: Click on Tools.

  2. In the menu that appears: Account Settings.

  3. This will show a list of accounts, so here we choose the account we want to work with. You'll have to click on it with the mouse.

  4. In that account, there's a settings page, or tab, called Server Settings.

  5. On that tab, there's a subsection also called Server Settings.

  6. In that subsection, we'll find a preference called Leave messages on server. In this case, it's a checkbox which is ether set or unset.

You do need to take care to note which window in Thunderbird we're looking at; for instance, the compose window where we write or edit messages has its own menu, but with different options.

Back to the index