This method is now out-dated. See

Many Ubuntu users don’t use the default Ubuntu mail application Evolution and prefer to swap it out with popular alternative Mozilla Thunderbird.

Sadly, for Ubuntu 10.04 users, this means that you lose functionality in the Ubuntu Messaging Menu as Thunderbird doesn’t show up there.

Thankfully x-shane-x over on the Ubuntu forums has hacked around a near-perfect working solution: you can now add Thunderbird to the Ubuntu messaging menu! Hurrah!

How to add Thunderbird to the Ubuntu Messaging Menu (version #1)

First we need to add a few things to the thunderbird.desktop file contained within /usr/share/applications.

Press ALT+F2 and in the window that pops up type the following carefully: –

  • gksu nautilus /usr/share/applications

You’ll be asked to enter your password. Do so and then relevant location will then open in nautilus.

Now locate the thunderbird.desktop file, right click on it and choose ‘open with gedit’. Once open replace the contents with the following: –

[Desktop Entry]
Name=Thunderbird Mail
GenericName=Mail Client
Comment=Manage your email and contacts
Exec=thunderbird %u



[Compose Shortcut Group]
Name=Compose New Message
Exec=thunderbird mailto:
OnlyShowIn=Messaging Menu

[Contacts Shortcut Group]
Exec=thunderbird -addressbook
OnlyShowIn=Messaging Menu
Save and exit.

Next we need to add a text file in /usr/share/indicators/messages/applications named ‘thunderbird’.

Create a text file (Applications > Accessories > Text Editor) with the following inside: –

  • /usr/share/applications/thunderbird.desktop

Save the file as ‘thunderbird’ and exit the text editing application. Place this in the messages/applications folder. To get to it press ALT+F2 and enter the following carefully: –

  • gksu nautilus /usr/share/indicators/messages/applications

Now log out of Ubuntu and log back in.

How to add Ubuntu to the messaging menu (version #2)

Alternatively, if you’re feeling brave, there is an experimental plug-in available for Thunderbird which does all of the above for you.

To get it you will need to use bzr ” a distributed revision control system.

  • sudo apt-get install bzr notify-send python-indicate
  • bzr branch lp:libnotify-mozilla/experimental-indicator
  • cd experimental-indicator

You can now proceed to install the add-on as per any other.

Using Thunderbird 2? You may also want to…

Sadly, as Shane points out in the forum post with this tip in, this doesn’t inform you of new messages. One way to stay notified of new messages is to install the Thunderbird Ubuntu Notification Bubble Extension (that’s not the extensions real name but it saves an extra sentence explaining that’s what it does!)

You can get that @

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