How to Install Thunderbird Email Client on Debian and Setup your GMail account in Thunderbird

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 an Email using SMTP.

In this article, we will explain installing Thunderbird both through the Debian UI and the command line. 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 (GMail) on your Debian.

We have run the commands and procedures mentioned in this article on a Debian 10 Buster system.

Installing Thunderbird on Debian 10

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

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

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

Extract Thunderbird Archive

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

Start Thunderbird installer

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

Install Thunderbird through the Debian Command Line – The Terminal

Open the Debian command line, the Terminal, through the Application Launcher search as follows:

Debian Terminal

We recommend running the following command before you install any software on Debian 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 Debian.

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.

Launch Thunderbird and Setup an Email account

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

Thunderbird Email Program

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 Debian 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

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

Email address

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

GMail account in Thunderbird

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:

Grant access to email account

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

GMail Account in Thunderbird

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