Thunderbird for Macintosh on Exchange Guide

Guide for installing and configuring Thunderbird 11.0.x to access SF State E-mail on Microsoft Exchange.

     Obtain software
     Obtain account details
     Determine your current version (if upgrading)
Install Thunderbird
Configure Thunderbird
Using Thunderbird on Exchange
     Server-based e-mail




  • A computer running Macintosh Apple OS X 10.7 or higher
  • A connection to the Internet
  • Mozilla Thunderbird software Version 11.0.0 or higher
  • Account details for your SF State e-mail account on the Exchange server

Obtain Software

Thunderbird is an open-source e-mail program and newsreader developed by the Mozilla Foundation. It is freely available for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. Mozilla Thunderbird can be downloaded from the Mozilla Website.

Obtain account details

  1. Login to SF State E-mail Account Services. (If you do not know your password, use SF State password service.)
  2. Under Accounts (section 1) select your e-mail address.
  3. On the Account Details page note the following:   Account name, E-mail address, Forwards to, and Mail Server.
  4. If you are currently forwarding your e-mail and would like to access it using Thunderbird, remove your e-mail forwarding address.
  5. All Faculty and Staff should show Exchange as their Mail server. If your Mail server is not Exchange contact the ITS Help Desk at 415-338-1420 and ask for assistance.

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Install Thunderbird

Download the Setup File using the link provided in the Prerequisites section. Double-click the downloaded setup file Thunderbird...x.dmg to run the installation.

Install Application

  1. Once the application is downloaded, drag the Thunderbird icon onto the Application folder as directed in the new window.
  2. Go to the Applications Folder and find Thunderbird.
  3. Drag and drop the icon onto the Dock, if it does not exist there now.
  4. Double-click on the application icon to run the installation program.
  5. If an Import Wizard window appears, select Don't import anything and select Next.
  6. Thunderbird will open with the Mail Account Setup window. Continue to the Configure Thunderbird section to finish setting up your e-mail.

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Configure Thunderbird

Global Search and Indexer

Configure fetch_by_chunks

Configure mime_parts

  1. If the Account Wizard is not already displayed, open it as follows: on the File menu, select New, then select Existing Mail Account.
  2. In the Mail Account Setup window.

    Mail Account Setup

    Manual Setup

    1. Enter your name. (e.g., Juana Doe). This name will appear in the From field of messages you send.
    2. Enter your E-mail address (e.g.,
    3. Leave password field blank and uncheck Remember password.
    4. Click Continue.
    5. Thunderbird will attempt to find common server settings but they will need to be adjusted. Click Manual config to open the Mail Account Setup window.
  3. In the Account Settings window, configure the Incoming section:

    Server Setting

    1. For Incoming, select: IMAP
    2. Server hostname:
    3. Port, select: 993
    4. SSL, select: SSL/TLS
    5. Authentication, select: Normal password
  4. Now configure the Outgoing (SMTP) settings:
    1. Server hostname, type:
    2. Port, select: 587
    3. SSL, select: STARTTLS
    4. Authentication, select: Normal password
    5. Verify the Username contains your full e-mail address (e.g.,
    6. Click: Create Account
    7. If you see a window that asks you to select Thunderbird as your default client, click Cancel.
    8. A login window will request your SF State Password, once entered and you click OK, your e-mail will begin to download.
  5. Configure preferences for Thunderbird.
    1. Go to the menu Thunderbird Preferences, select the Advanced tab.
  6. In the General tab, configure settings to ensure e-mail attachments load properly.
    1. Select Config Editor.
    2. Click I'll be careful, I promise! when warned that this might void your warranty.
  7. Set mail.server.default.fetch_by_chunks to false.
    1. Enter "fetch_by_chunks" in the Filter field to reduce the number of entries.
    2. If the value for mail.server.default.fetch_by_chunks is true, double-click the entry to change the value to false.
  8. Set mail.imap.mime_parts_on_demand and mail.server.default.mime_parts_on_demand to false.
    1. Enter "mime_parts_on_demand" in the Filter field to reduce the number of entries.
    2. If the value for mail.imap.mime_parts_on_demand is true, double-click on the entry to change the value to false.
    3. If the value for mail.server.default.mime_parts_on_demand is true, double-click on the entry to change the value to false.
  9. Close the about:config window.
  10. Close the Advanced window.
  11. Open the menu Tools > Account Settings.

    Account Settings

    This screen contains account settings for how your e-mail account connects to the SF State Exchange server.

    1. Select Server Settings
    2. Click Advanced.
    3. Set "Maximum number of server connections to cache" to 1.
    4. Optional: If you have a large number of folders on the server, you may want to uncheck the box "Show only subscribed folders." This will show all your folders, including the default ones created by Exchange (e.g., Calendar, Journal, etc.), without the need to select them individually.
    5. Select Ok to close Advanced Settings.
    6. Select Ok to close Server Settings.

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Using Thunderbird with Exchange

  1. If your e-mail has not downloaded select the Inbox for your SF State account in the left-hand column.
    1. Enter your SF State password in the Mail Server Password Required window
    2. Click OK to continue.
    3. Folders saved on the server will be created and e-mail will begin downloading. Note: If you have a large number of folders on the server this may take a long time, be sure to keep your computer connected to the Internet until this process is complete. You will see a progress bar at the bottom right of the window.

    Enter password

  2. New e-mail will be located in the Inbox for your SF State Exchange account. To receive new e-mail in Thunderbird, select Get Mail and enter your SF State password when prompted, and click OK.

    Get Mail

Server-based e-mail

The mailboxes and folders you see under your new account (e.g., reside on the e-mail server, not on your computer.  As a result:

Subscribe folders

To create a folder for messages available on the server.

Subscribe folders

  • If you move a message from one of these folders to Trash on one computer, it will be in Trash on all computers you use to check e-mail.
  • Items are automatically deleted from Trash and the Exchange server thirty days after being moved to Trash.
  • If you empty your Trash you can restore a deleted message up to thirty days from the time it was put into Trash. See Restores on ITS's Faculty/Staff E-mail web page for instructions.
  • If you want to delete specific messages from the server, but keep them locally on your computer, copy them to a subfolder under the Local Folders account before deleting them from your Exchange account.
  • To create a folder for messages only available on this computer.
    1. Select File > New > Folder... from the menu.
    2. Enter the folder name.
    3. Select Local Folder under "Create as a subfolder of:".
    4. Click choose this for the parent.
    5. Click Create Folder.
    1. Select File > New > Folder... from the menu.
    2. Enter the folder name.
    3. Select under "Create as a subfolder of:".
    4. Click choose this for the parent.
    5. Click Create Folder.
  • The time it takes to refresh a folder on the server increases with the number of messages in the folder. To minimize refresh time, try to keep the number of messages in your inbox between 500-1000. The Inbox on the server is refreshed every time your e-mail program checks for new messages, so it is especially important to keep the number of messages in the Inbox low.


  • Your new account uses the Inbox found under your new account (e.g.,
  • The Trash folder under your new account (e.g., will contain any messages deleted from your new Inbox.
  • The Sent folder under your new account (e.g., will contain any new messages sent from your account.
  • To permanently remove messages marked as deleted, right-click on the Trash folder, and then select Empty Trash in the menu list.

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Mail index is incorrect - contents of folder do not match what is seen at

  1. Right-click the folder where the problem is occurring.
  2. Select Properties and the General Information tab.
  3. Select Repair Folder.