Thunderbird Folder Pane Sorting

Well I’ve installed Thunderbird 3b2 and all is well, I think. So currently I have 4 accounts set up and will be adding another half dozen or so if I decide to move off Mail completely. Yesterday when I was adding the latest account I discovered that I couldn’t actually move the accounts in the folder pane around once I had created them. That really is a pain!

So after a bit of research on the net I found a couple of answers, one is an add on that allows the reordering of accounts, unfortunately it doesn’t work for beta 2, the other was a description on how to do it manually. After following the instructions and a bit of trial and error I eventually got it to work, a bit of a faff but it works.

The following shows how to do it on a Mac, the principle will be the same on Windows just the file locations that are different. You might want to back the file up before you change it, just incase! Before you begin you need to ensure that Thunderbird is not running.

You need to edit the following java script file, prefs.js. This can be found in


The ……… indicate the user of the machine and the xxxxxxxxx could be anything, but it should be fairly obvious!

Open the file in Dashboard or whatever editor you are comfortable with, just make sure that you us an editor that doesn’t add anything to the plain text, remember this is code.

Now you need to locate the line that resemble the following:

user_pref(“mail.accountmanager.accounts”, “account1,account2,account3,account4,account5”);

user_pref(“mail.accountmanager.defaultaccount”, “account2”);

The number of accounts listed will vary depending on how many email accounts you have created.

On the accounts line all you need to do is to move the accounts around into your preferred order, I would move one at a time so that you can see the results easily. A couple of things that I discovered while doing this and that rather confuse things a bit.

  • account 1 is not the first account displayed, not sure what it is but moving it has no affect whatsoever, as far as I can tell
  • the account listed in defaultaccount should always match the second account in the accounts list otherwise it will override that which you have specified in the accounts list and then everything becomes very confusing

So after the modifications to my settings the changed lines are as follows:

user_pref(“mail.accountmanager.accounts”, “account1,account3,account5,account2,account4”);

user_pref(“mail.accountmanager.defaultaccount”, “account3”);

That’s it, bit of a pain but it appears to work. If there is a better way to do it don;t be afraid to let me know!


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