Putting The “Received” Column In Thunderbird To Work
According to Internet standards, each email message should have a
Date: header bearing the date and time when the message has been sent. In real life, that header may contain an incorrect timestamp for a variety of reasons, from system clock malfunction or incorrect timezone setting on the originating system to deliberate forging by spammers. Therefore Outlook and Web-based email clients sort messages by the time they were received at their final destination, extracted from the first
In Thunderbird, however, the default folder view includes the Date column. The Received column, if enabled, displays the same timestamps, effectively rendering itself useless. I had this issue in Thunderbird 3, but, to my surprise, it has not been fixed as of version 6.0.2, and for some reason the fix is difficult to find on the Net, so I decided to write this post.
The problem stems from the fact that Thunderbird downloads message headers selectively when you choose to leave messages on the IMAP server, and skips the
Received headers by default. Fortunately, there is a preference that tells it which additional headers to download. It is normally used by extension developers, but you may set it manually as follows:
- Select Tools/Options from the main menu.
- Click Config Editor.
- If a warning displays, click “I’ll be careful, I promise!”.
- Locate the
mailnews.customDBHeaderspreference, e.g. by typing “dbh” in the Filter field. Double click it, or select and press Enter.
- If the preference was not set previously, type “
Received” and click OK. If some extension has already populated the preference, add “
Received” to the end of the list of headers, separating it with space.
- Close the Config Editor and restart Thunderbird.
From now on, the newly received messages should have a proper value in the Received column. If you want that for the old messages too, you need to tell Thunderbird to re-download the headers and rebuild the index for each IMAP folder. To do that, right-click the folder you want to refresh, select Properties from the pop-up menu, and click the Repair Folder button.
Let me know in the comments if this post was helpful.