Thunderbird Tab Session Restore

The new Thundertab has (partially) landed in the nightly builds of Thunderbird.  You’ll need to get Lightning installed to see all this and it’s not too pretty yet, but we’re making lots of progress.

But there’s no time to lose!  We’re already talking about how to handle tab session restore to keep all your opened mail tabs around for future sessions.

I’ve put up a partial mockup already, but it’s still early.  As always please leave comments below!

28 responses to “Thunderbird Tab Session Restore

  1. I noticed this today too. Looks sweet so far. Now we just need an option to always open mail in a new tab and to always open ‘new message’ in a new tab.

  2. I have latest TB nightly and Latest Lightening nightly.

    Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv:1.9.1a2pre) Gecko/20080818030344 Lightning/1.0pre Shredder/3.0b1pre

    I cannot see calender only. (I think issue with Lightening. Does not work with TB2 also). Which Lightening i should try ?

  3. Dao

    There should also be a “don’t ask me again” checkbox, which would be linked to a tri-state pref:

    When Thunderbird starts, show tabs from previous session?
    (o) always
    (_) never
    (_) ask me each time

  4. I have to agree with Dao. Shouldn’t Thunderbird use the same way as it is already implemented in Firefox? When users are switching between their favorite applications it’s not healthy to let them adapt on the different behavior each time.

  5. I agree with Derek and Dao.

    Also, there should be a preference to turn the tab-bar off. Takes up valuable space!

  6. ~HP

    “there should be a preference to turn the tab-bar off. Takes up valuable space!”

    I agree !

  7. A lot of the missing features are painfully obvious at this stage: Can’t middle click to open in a new tab, can’t move tabs around, it doesn’t appear you can open the composer in a tab, and you can’t close the inbox. I’d also like to see Ctrl+T for a new tab, and maybe a Speed Dial-like menu to open the inbox/other directories, a calendar, tasks view, and composer.
    You can also tell that the theme effects are missing, but I guess that will be worked out later (and hopefully at the same time as a full Tango+GTK theme is made?)

    Anyway, it looks good so far!

  8. Ben

    Looks like an interesting change, and likely to be very helpful — it gives me an easy hotkey (ctrl+tab) to switch between mail and calendar that I didn’t have before. Where should the toolbars go? In the default view, we have, from top to bottom:

    Title
    Menubar
    Mail toolbar
    Tab bar: [Mail | Calendar | Tasks]
    [tab-specific content]

    If you go to the calendar tab, you get

    Title
    Menubar
    Mail toolbar
    Tab bar
    Calendar toolbar
    [Calendar content]

    But the mail toolbar is completely unnecessary here… Seems reasonable to suggest that the mail toolbar be moved under the tab bar, and make it tab-specific content.

    Also, the Today pane seems to have vanished from the mail tab, regardless of the View -> Today Pane -> … settings.

  9. Louise

    It looks sweet :)

    I hope the tabs will behave like Google Chrome. I.e. open new tab to the right.

  10. Louise

    Btw. I would really like to see all windows opened in tabs.

    That also being Preferences, Account, Add-ons, and in particular Address book.

    Are there a change that the Address book will be a tab? Would be very handy, when the Inbox is a tab.

  11. Well, just keep in mind that tabs aren’t very good for e.g. side-by-side comparisons, or if you’re writing a message while consulting another. I can open multiple windows of Firefox if I want to do that, but Thunderbird can only have 1 main window open at a time.

    So it is important that it will still be possible to open messages in a new window, and that preferably the other tab-functionality (calendar, search, etc.) can be too.

  12. @Dereak: yeah, we’re making room in the prefs for tab options like those right now

    @Jigar: Calendar only? We don’t support that if that’s what you’re looking for.

    @Dao: good points, we definitely don’t want to bother people with the session restore tab every time.

    @Kevin: yep, lots of those obvious ones already have bugs opened.

    middle click to open a tab
    https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=435567

    can’t move tabs around
    ??? hmm, I thought this would have come with the tabbox for free…

    composer in a tab
    This one needs to get filed soon

    ctrl-t to open a tab
    https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=458069

    ctrl-w to close a tab
    https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=408398

    The Inbox is not closeable by design, otherwise you can end up with an empty window or we have to close down Thunderbird. Either way doesn’t seem idea. We still need to remove the close button from the Inbox though, that would remove much of the current confusion.

    Speed Dial-like menu is a good idea, we’re trying to figure out a blank tab page design that includes options like this.

    The screenshot is from Windows Vista and the icons need some work. Anyway, thanks for the support!

    @Ben: yes, most of the toolbars are going away when lightning finishes integration with Thunderbird. see:

    https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=454935

    @Louise: Thanks! It should open new tabs to the right. There is a bug for the address book in a tab.

    https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=457270

    @Laurens: There is a trick to get multiple Thunderbird windows open at the same time. I don’t think we’re going to take that route. Instead I think we’ll be offering options in each tab to open in ( New Window )

  13. ovidiu

    The close tab on inbox should only disappear when is the only tab with all folders [folderpane] in the area. That leaves me the choice to have the last tab one of the several accounts/inboxes etc there.

    (Today it opens and acc in another tab with the whole folderpane.)

    Also, drag a folder/acc in tab area to open it separately should work, like a link in FF. And having several calendar / task tabs could do also, with different views (dif months, month+week etc). But that is maybe not for you ..

    [note: rclick show "close tab" an all areas, on the cal icons and even in empty tab area ..]

  14. Ben

    Excellent, thanks for the quick replies (to all comments, no less). Also worth pointing out as people read these comments (since I certainly hadn’t known of it before) is https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=456814 which tracks an awful lot of useful changes being suggested…

    Regarding the inbox-not-closeable-by-design, I have mixed feelings about that. On the one hand, it makes sense that an email program ought not to close its email view. On the other hand, it’s a tab… For UI reference, Songbird also has a non-closeable tab for the main library, which they distinguish by not having a close button and by coloring it differently from other tabs. Alternatively, if you do design a strong “blank page” design, you could make the mail tab closeable and display that blank-tab page if there’s nothing else to display.

  15. Louise

    Can the Address Book and Composition as tab make it for TB3?

    My most wanted UI enhancement is by far
    https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=213945

    Is that enhancement going into TB3? :)

  16. Frank

    Could anyone direct me to a nightly Lightening meant to work with TB Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:1.9.1b2pre) Gecko/20081011 Shredder/3.0b1pre

    The one from comm-central has for several days simply spawned 100s of “there was an error” dialogs that require me to end TB from task manager, start TB safe, then disable Lightening. Thank you.

  17. Ninja

    Having killed the messagepane before, reinitializing it is pretty much impossible without a core change.

  18. One added benefit of a Ctrl+T page is that you don’t /need/ the buttons on the right, so you can hide the tab bar when only the inbox is showing.
    (My most wanted change is still a Tango+GTK icon set, before that it was better GTK integration, which is why I started testing TB3 in the first place)

  19. As I daily work with Thunderbird I’m always grateful for new features like that that make working with Thunderbird even more attractive. So go on with this.

  20. bunnyjeanne

    I have been using firefox for awhile now and like it very much. Still have lots to learn about all you provide. Anyhow sunday my system went down and I lost everything all my files etc.

    I contacted HP and they were no help. I need to get rid of a driver that’s incompatible with Windows XP and am not doing it right. I had deleted it long time ago and can’t remember how I did it. I am on the computer every day. I need to pull up a firefox restore point from Saturday October 19th to get my computer working right again. How do I do that.

  21. K. Jusupov

    Guys, how do I set double-click on message to open in new tab?

  22. I don’t think there’s an option to use double-click on a message. Middle click on a message will be available very soon. I would look into creating an add-on for double-clicking such that you could have that functionality right away.

  23. I’m always looking for news regarding the Thunderbird. As I daily work with Thunderbird it’s not only necessary but sometimes also useful to have all these features. So thanks for the news.

  24. We’ve been thinking about the same thing for the new tab screen in Firefox: http://www.flickr.com/photos/azaraskin/2870497285/in/set-72157607361574616/

  25. Tom

    Nice. This is exactly what I am looking for.

  26. Pingback: Bryan Clark » Blog Archive » Looking at User Experience for Thunderbird 3

  27. Great read. I found your blog on bing and i have your page bookmarked on my personal read list!
    I’m a fan of your site. Keep up the good work

  28. did this idea ever get incorporated as i need to restore session after migrating computers and dont know what file it is that makes this happen: Oct / 2008 Thunderbird Tab Session Restore

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This is the blog personality of Bryan Clark. I'm a designer in a world of open source. This blog reflects mostly writing about Design, Open Source, Economics, Beer, Wine, and Dogs. There's more information about me on this site or you can contact me directly at clarkbw@gmail.com.

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