How to Install and Setup Thunderbird Email Client in Ubuntu

Mozilla Thunderbird is a free Email client that allows users on Windows, macOS, Linux, and other supported systems to send, receive, and manage their Email. With ThunderBird, you can retrieve Emails from your Email provider using IMAP or POP3, and send Email using SMTP.

In this article, we will explain installing thunderbird both through the command line and the UI. We will then explain how to launch the application and use it to set up Thunderbird to access and use your already existing Email account on your Ubuntu.

We have run the commands and procedures mentioned in this article on a Ubuntu 18.04 LTS system.

Install Thunderbird

Here, we will explain two ways to install ThunderBird on your System:

  • Through the Terminal (Command Line-based)
  • From the Thunderbird website (GUI-based)

Through the Terminal (Recommended)

Open your Ubuntu command line, the Terminal, either through the system Dash or the Ctrl+Alt+T shortcut. We recommend running the following command before you install any software on Ubuntu through the command line:

$ sudo apt-get update

This ensures that your system’s repository index is in-line with the internet repositories. This way, you can install the latest available version of a software.

Then, run the following command in order to install ThunderBird:

$ sudo apt-get install thunderbird

Please note that only an authorized user can add, remove, and update software on Ubuntu.

Install Thunderbird with apt

The system might ask you the password for sudo user. Enter the password and the software will be installed on your system.

You can verify if the software is indeed installed on your system or not, and also check the version number, through the following command:

$ thunderbird --version

Check Thunderbird version

If you ever want to completely remove Thunderbird, along with all its configurations, please use the following command:

$ sudo apt-get purge thunderbird

Remove Thunderbird

Launch Thunderbird

When you have installed ThunderBird through this method, you can launch it through the Terminal by entering the following command:

$ thunderbird

Or, from the UI through the application launcher search bar.

From the ThunderBird Website (UI-based)

The latest version of Thunderbird can be found on the following link:

Open the link in your browser and Save the file to your system, preferably the Downloads folder, as follows:

Download Thunderbird

The downloaded file will be in .tar.bz2 format. Open the folder where you have downloaded the file and extract it using the Extract Here option from the right-click menu, as follows:

Extract the Thunderbird archive

The extracted folder will contain another folder named “thunderbird”. Open that folder and try locating an executable file named thunderbird.

Launch Thunderbird application

When you double-click this file, the ThunderBird application will open.

Create Desktop Launcher for ThunderBird(Optional)

If accessing the ThunderBird application through the method described above seems burdensome to you, you can create a Desktop launcher for the application as follows:

Open your Ubuntu Terminal and enter the following command as sudo in order to install Gnome Panel.

$ sudo apt install --no-install-recommends gnome-panel

Install GNOME Panel

Then, run the following command in order to create a new launcher:

$ gnome-desktop-item-edit ~/Desktop/ --create-new

Create new Launcher

The following view will open, through which you can create a launcher:

Create launcher Dialogue

Enter the following details in this view:

Type: Application

Name: ThunderBird

Command: Browse to, or enter the location of the thunderbird executable file inside your extracted ThunderBird tar.bz2 folder.

Comment: ThunderBird

You can also change the icon of the launcher by clicking on the icon image and browsing to the image you want to set.

Click OK and your Desktop will have a ThunderBird icon through which you can easily access the application any time.

Launch ThunderBird and Setup Email

When you launch ThunderBird for the first time, the following view will appear:

Launch Thunderbird

This lets you set up one of your already existing email accounts on Thunderbird. Here, I will explain how I used the Wizard to configure my Gmail account on ThunderBird in order to send and receive emails directly from my Ubuntu desktop.

Enter your name, the Email address you want to configure and the password for that Email account in this view and click Continue:

Setup Email Account in Thunderbird

ThunderBird will verify your settings from the Mozilla ISP database and display the following view on successful record match:

Verify Email account settings

Click Done on this view after verifying the configurations. This will open the following Sign in with Google page:

Connect Thunderbird to GMail account

Enter your email and click Next. The following page will open, asking you for the password associated with your Email ID.


Enter the password and click Next. The following page will now appear, asking you whether you trust ThunderBird as a trusted application:

Allow Thunderbird to connect to Google account

Click Allow and you have successfully set up ThunderBird to send and receive Emails from an already existing Email account.

Thunderbird has been successfully connected with a GMail account

This was all you needed to know about installing ThunderBird if it is not already part of your Ubuntu package. And also set up an already existing account on ThunderBird so that you can enjoy the ease of using that Email account right from your Ubuntu desktop.