Duration of the ‘New Mail’ alert in Thunderbird

In Thunderbird, when you receive new mail, an alert will pop up in the lower right corner of the screen (at least on Windows). Some people think it stays up for too long. Others feel that it goes away too fast. There is actually a setting for the duration of the new mail alert, that users can set.

In Thunderbird, go to Tools–>Options, open the Advanced section, select the General tab, then click on “Config Editor.” In the Config Editor, search for the preference alerts.totalOpenTime. Double-click on it, to change the value. Set the value to the amount of milliseconds you want the alert to stay up.

14 Responses

  1. Matt Doran February 14, 2007 / 12:48 am

    Thanks for the tip.

    I’ve just upgraded to TB2 beta 2, and you can no longer click the notification to bring TB to the foreground. That’s a pretty annoying regression in functionality.

    It is possible to re-enable that functionality in TB2?

  2. funTomas February 14, 2007 / 3:41 am

    @Matt: to bring TB2b2 in front, you need doubleclick the new-mail icon (and a bit of patience to repeat it).

  3. Daniel Glazman February 14, 2007 / 12:27 pm

    I’d love to see in that pop-up notification (aka the toaster) a pixel-wide vertical progressmeter decreasing from 100% to 0% showing how much time is left to click on the link. This implies slight changes in our notifyer code but it’s really not an issue, everything is xul-based anyway. We at Disruptive Innovations have already done it for one of our customers and our toasters now have buttons, complex backgrounds and the full power of XUL, instead of a predefined and very limited text+icon+link.

  4. Mattijs Lingsma April 16, 2007 / 4:59 am

    Hi all! My question is somewhat related:
    I have Thunderbird running all day, just because I want to know when mail arrives. But here’s my ‘problem’. I don’t like the ‘enormous’ rectangle in my (XP-)’start-bar’ at the bottom of the screen -like any other program /folder that is open- because it just sits there all day taking up space. When I am not actively using Thunderbird (>> it’s only running to receive mail and alert me for new mail) a small icon in the bottom-right section of the screen (where the clock, volume etc is) would imho be nicer than ‘the big thing in the start-bar’.

    I am quite a newbe to Thunderbird, so maybe this is already possible?


  5. Karthik S April 25, 2007 / 11:13 am


    I have written an extension for Thunderbird 2.0 called New Mail Alert Configuration that allows you to configure the new mail alert on a per account basis instead of a global flag. Please give it a try at http://unsignedbyte.com/nmalertconfig.html


  6. Mattijs Lingsma May 1, 2007 / 4:43 pm

    Thanks Karthik, I’ll give it a try!!

  7. Stela August 21, 2007 / 2:51 am

    Thanks a lot for the extension, I really don´t understand why it is not on by default in the new version, it should be better in all the behaviours…anyways, thanks again, its great!

  8. Nick November 24, 2007 / 5:21 pm

    I’m hoping for something that will let me right-click on the new mail alert box to delete or move or mark a new message as read without bringing Thunderbird to the front. Anyone know if such a thing is out there?

  9. Arvid Qvigstad August 15, 2008 / 11:09 am

    Note to Mattijs Lingsma: I think you’re looking for the t-Bird tray:

    Thunderbird-Tray v1.2
    (c) 2004, 2005 Felix ‘SniperBeamer’ Geyer

  10. Arvid Qvigstad August 15, 2008 / 11:12 am

    Note to Mattijs Lingsma: I think yhou’re looking for this:

    Thunderbird-Tray v1.2
    (c) 2004, 2005 Felix ‘SniperBeamer’ Geyer

  11. Heather September 12, 2008 / 11:35 am

    Thanks, Arvid. I was looking for that too!

  12. Mattijs Lingsma October 21, 2008 / 12:58 pm

    Haha! My question was posted april 16 2007.. and yesss, now answered! In some mysterious way my diligent character must have been translated into bits&bites, and unpacked at the other end… for you to even answer? πŸ˜‰

    Thanks a lot Arvid!

  13. lonelynx May 25, 2009 / 5:31 pm

    ok cool thanks

  14. Zapp November 22, 2009 / 10:06 am

    I’m using on Windows 7 and my problem is that the new mail notification stays up and NEVER goes away. I’ve checked the alerts.totalOpenTime setting, and it is at 3000. Could it be that Windows itself doesn’t allow Thunderbird to close the notification it opens?

    Did a bit of googling but couldn’t find anything on this. It’s not the end of the world, but an irritating niggle nonetheless.

    In the best of worlds I would like the notification to stay up indefinitely, but close when clicked (because then the main email window is displayed, and I no longer need the alert to see any new emails).

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