How To Stop Thunderbird Message Auto-Deletion

  • 2 min read
  • Dec 02, 2016


Retention Policy

mozilla-thunderbird-feature-imageThis is something I never knew Mozilla did until I started looking for an old eMail and could not find it. For some unknown reason, after a month or two my Inbox and Trash messages would disappear. It was either my wife deleting them, or a ghost. OK, maybe neither so it must be a setting that I did not realize was enabled. With some time and utter stubbornness I found out what was causing this problem. This is what is called a Retention Policy issue.

Somehow, I set my account to delete old messages after 30 days. That does not work for this guy. Now I get to show all of you how to make sure that your messages don’t pack up and leave without a word of good-bye.

How to Take Control of Auto-Deletion

I found two ways do to this: you can set this for the Entire Account, or do it for a Specific Folder.

Entire Account

Step 1: Open Thunderbird

Step 2: Once here, head to the top and click on Tools. This will bring up a drop-down menu. Now select Account Settings



Step 3: Here you will want to select Synchronization & Storage from the left of the Account Settings window



Step 4: Here is where the magic happens. You will want to look at the last choice in this window. For some reason I had Delete messages more than 30 days old selected. Since I do not want Thunderbird deleting anything automatically I have chosen Don’t delete any messages. Now click the OK button and you’re done


These steps will keep Thunderbird from deleting any messages from now on. You do not have to do this for the entire account. The other option is to find the folder you would like to fix. Here is how that works…

Specific Folders

Step 1: Is the same as the first step from above. Open Thunderbird

Step 2: Choose the folder you wish to change the settings for. I will choose Trash which we will right-click on. This will bring up a menu. Now selected Properties at the bottom


Step 3: Once in here, select the tab on top that says Retention Policy. You will notice in this window the same thing you saw from Step 4 from above. Change it to the desired settings you wish this folder to follow. You can check the box Use my account settings, which will just keep the settings you already setup for the entire account. You can even choose to have your trash empty after a certain amount of time. The Inbox was the one I did not want deleting after a time, but for the Trash, I would prefer to have it empty after 30 or 60 days. After you are done with your selection just click on the OK button



You can change any folder this way. This is great to be able to do with the Trash folder (I always seem to forget to empty it). Another perk is that it will not effect any of the other folders’ settings when you do it this way. Now you have more control over your eMail.

How long do you typically keep your messages?