Recover or Change Thunderbird Passwords

Here’s a really cool, useful trick for people who use the Thunderbird email client …

Setting up email accounts in desktop email clients like Thunderbird or Outlook is usually a do and forget type of operation. Once the accounts have been setup they do not need any attendance or maintenance at all, unless the email provider happens to make changes to the system.

Sometimes email account information, such as the username and password, need to be retrieved. A user may want to configure the email provider on another computer, a mobile device like a smartphone or access the email directly if the provider offers webmail as well.

Thunderbird, like most other email clients, hides the passwords by default, but provides an option to display them in the password manager. This is similar to the way the Firefox web browser handles stored passwords.

For added security, a master password can be configured that needs to be entered before the stored email account information can be accessed by the user.

To recover or change Thunderbird passwords do the following:

  • Open the email client Thunderbird. We are using the 3.1 branch in this guide.
  • Click on Tools > Options, and switch to Security > Passwords.
  • Click on the Saved Passwords button. This displays a list of all email accounts with a saved passwords. This list may contain old email clients that are no longer in use. Those can be deleted by the user by selecting them first and hitting the remove button thereafter.
  • All email account passwords that are stored in Thunderbird can be displayed by clicking on Show Passwords. The very same listing displays the username, and site (that is the email provider) as well.
  • To change passwords, simply select the email account that needs to be changed and click on the Remove button. Next time Thunderbird tries to retrieve emails from removed accounts, it will prompt for a password for that account.
thunderbird passwords

thunderbird passwords

saved passwords

saved passwords

And that’s how you recover or change passwords in the Thunderbird email software. As you can see, this can also be helpful to remove passwords and email account information that are no longer in use in the email client.


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