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Thunderbird local folder tags redux : It can be done!

  1. Compacting a folder adds the X-Mozilla-Keys: header if it does not exist [mozillazine],[googlegroups thread],[bugzilla].
  2. You can force a folder compact by deleting an (unimportant) email and then compacting the folder. (Just clicking compact will do nothing to a folder if there is nothing to be deleted).
  3. Thunderbird, once it sees the X-Mozilla-Keys: header, will actually use it to store tags.
  4. You can verify this by deleting the .msf file and seeing if the tagging persists
  5. You can now move this email around (from inside Thunderbird) and the tags move with the email, even to a folder that, in general, does not have the X-Mozilla-Keys: header! True metadata.
  6. You can tag a folder that doesn't have the X-Mozilla-Keys: header and afterwards compact it and Thunderbird will move the tags into the header. Just make sure you really compact the folder (pt 2. above)
  7. Thunderbird stores tag definitions (highlight color etc.) in prefs.js
Good, now I can continue with my tagging of archived mail...


  1. Interesting!
    What about subfolders? If I delete an email in folder Local Folders>Inbox>John and compact Local Folder, will Thunderbird compact ALL folders that are a subfolder of Local Folders such as Local Folders>Sent>Smith?

  2. First of all, thanks for the tip! It solved my problem of migrating tags to another mail client!

    @John: Unfortunately, no. Each subfolder has its own mailbox file (or so I'm told), and you'll need to compact each folder individually.
    I did exactly that, yesterday.

    Also, I found a less destructive way to force compaction - you don't need to delete a mail, it suffices to just move a mail to another folder (e.g. a temporary empty one) and then move it back (and click Compact of course).


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