Deleting individual newsgroup messages in Thunderbird

Let’s say you’re reading a newsgroup with Thunderbird, and some spam gets posted. Or someone posts an offensive message you just want to remove from the message list. Or any case in which you just want to remove an individual article you’ve already downloaded.

In the past, it wasn’t possible to delete individual messages. At least not without exploiting the message aging feature. In the latest version of Thunderbird, you can delete individual messages. You just need to change a preference in the config editor to enable the feature.

  1. Go to Tools > Options > Advanced > General, and click on Config Editor.
  2. In the Config Editor, search for the preference: news.allow_delete_with_no_undo
  3. Double-click on it, to set the value to true.

After that, the delete command will work when you have any newsgroup messages selected.

9 Responses

  1. Tom Withycombe August 8, 2011 / 5:21 am

    Many thanks indeed. I’ve never come across the “Here be dragons” section. Scary! Anyway – all now fixed and the offending postings duly removed.

    Thanks again!

    Tom W.

  2. Lynn McGuire October 3, 2011 / 6:39 pm

    SWEET ! ! !

    Sounds dangerous since the undo is bypassed but I will deal with it.

    SWEET ! ! !


  3. Brian October 5, 2011 / 4:31 am

    Well, that’s one tiny step along the road, I guess. Will there ever be any chance of getting newsgroup filters to actually WORK, rather than just indicate they work? By that, I mean that if you set a newsgroup filter to (e.g.) move a message to an archive, the filter log indicates that the filter was activated and the message move completed, but nothing was actually moved.

    If Thunderbird ever has newsgroup filtering which works, I’ll finally be able to junk Forte Agent, a program which is so far superior to Thunderbird as a newsreader that it’s embarrassing (or it ought to be!) The fewer programs I have to run via WINE the better, but a (very) few Windows programs are just so much better at their job, and Forte Agent is one of them.


  4. Chris Ilias October 5, 2011 / 10:43 pm

    Hi Brian,
    Newsgroup filters have worked since the first version of Thunderbird. They just work on new messages downloaded after you have created the filter.
    If you have any issues, please post in the Thunderbird forum at thanks.

  5. Andrew Mai February 2, 2012 / 3:20 pm

    For the Linux version of thunderbird: Edit –> Preferences –> Advanced –> Config Editor …

  6. rain again June 11, 2012 / 10:25 pm

    I just upgraded to the latest version, and in the config editor, that line is not there.

  7. Wolfram Schmied October 16, 2012 / 4:36 am

    Thank you.

  8. Lapsap September 23, 2013 / 1:42 pm

    As of September 2013, it seems this behaviour is now by default (ie you can delete news messages) and the preference news.allow_delete_with_no_undo is no longer there.

  9. John October 4, 2015 / 8:57 am

    Thanks Lapsap for the update.

    Perhaps since it’s now just over two years since that, it might be an idea to amend this answer to say “If you are using a version from before September 2013” or similar, so that others aren’t as puzzled as I was when I tried to make the suggested change (until I read through all the comments and found Lapsap’s post).

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