Monthly Archives: December 2010

Thunderbird tabs and consistency

Thunderbird now has tabs for open messages, which is very convenient. You can have three messages open and see where they are from the tabs — this is similar to tabbed browsing in programs like Firefox and Internet Explorer. And you can move among tabs using the same commands you use to move among tabs in your browser: “Tab Back”, “Tab Forward” and “1-20 Tab Back/Forward”.

Unfortunately, however, the keyboard shortcut to close a message tab is different from the standard close document/tab command used in most programs including Firefox, even though Thunderbird is developed by the same organization as Firefox. The usual command “Control Function 4” logically mirrors the common “Alternate Function 4” that’s used to close a window.

If the standard keyboard shortcut were enabled like it is in programs like Microsoft Word and Firefox, you could say the shortcut or “Document Close” to close a document or tab. And if you wanted to close more than one you could say “Document Close Times 3”, for instance.

If you dig through the keyboard shortcuts for Thunderbird, you’ll find that there is a nonstandard keyboard shortcut to close a message tab: “Control w”. So you can train yourself to say “Control w” to close a message when you’re in Thunderbird. Also keep in mind you can also say “Control w Times 3” to close three open messages. But it would be far better to not have to think about which program you are in when closing a tab or document. Feel free to complain to Thunderbird about this oversight at the Thunderbird support forum.

Here’s another Thunderbird tip: If you want to move a message rather than just closing it try “Move Recent”, “1-10 Down Enter”.
There’s more Thunderbird strategy on the Redstart Wiki: