1. Search Folder for flagged in Thunderbird

    jake on 2006.01.26
    at 01:48 pm


    I should preface this short tutorial explaining that this is for older versions of Mozilla Thunderbird. Think of it as an alternative to the abilities added in version 1.5.

    Some background.

    I’ve been using Thunderbird at work for a long while now. I grabbed Thunderbird way back when it was in beta.

    I also have a problem with keeping my email organized. I get various messages on a weekly basis asking me to update minor things on various web sites. And if I’m currently busy with an unrelated project they quickly move off the screen and disappear from sight and from memory.

    There are two methods for highlighting messages in Thunderbird called labels and flags. Labels give color in the message window and their titles can be customized. They are easily applied using the keys 1-5. Flags can be inserted as a column and clicked to turn them on and off. There are of course other methods for applying the two.

    The problem.

    In version 1.5 both of these methods of highlighting a message can be broken into search folders. A name for a “smart search” so you can see the messages all in one place no matter how old they are. Label is one of the options to search for. And you can get a search for flagged in the status search.

    Since it was not possible in older versions of Thunderbird to search based on flag I came up with a workaround that I neglected to document. When doing a search for this solution I came up with zero results so I thought I would throw this up for posterity.

    The Fix.

    If you enable all headers in Thunderbird (View->Headers->All) there is one header in particular that can help us called X-Mozilla-Status. It is just a four number code that changes based on whether a message has been replied to or forwarded or flagged. I assume they just never got around to adding in the checks for this in the search, as we’ll see it’s pretty complex to manually add it.

    To start this we go to Edit->Find->Search Messages. Select the folder you would like to search in and make sure Match any of the following is selected.

    In the first drop down select Customize. Type in X-Mozilla-Status in the box and click add. Click OK. Now select X-Mozilla-Status in the drop down. In the second drop down select ends with. In the text box type in 0005.

    Now we need to add a few more for cases when the email has been modified in another way. The easy ones are when the message has already been read. Perhaps that is why it took so long to actually get into Thunderbird. It is possible to argue that a message would not be flagged until it was read since you probably need the message body to determine importance.

    Hit the + button ten times and repeat the steps for the drop down lists. Now enter in the new text fields; 1005, 0015, 0205, 1015, 1205, 0007, 1007, 0017, 0207, 1207. Notice any patterns? Those are the basic codes I tested for unread messages. So you could hit Search and then Save as Search Folder and be done with it.

    But I’ll keep going for thoroughness. The rest of the codes I’ve found are; 0006, 0016, 0004, 0014, 0204, 1014, 1204. I’ll assume there are more since it follows a pattern. Perhaps in a followup I’ll test the missing codes and display a grid describing my best guess to what the codes stand for.

    Too many numbers.

    As you can see it is a way over the top method of filtering messages. I strongly suggest getting the latest version of Thunderbird and simply using the drop down set aside for this purpose. But this post will at least give you an idea as to what’s going on under the hood.

    Posted in: Software


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