How to Create Rules in Mozilla Thunderbird to Filter Emails

Mozilla Thunderbird filter rules make it possible to automate boring, time-consuming inbox management tasks. We explain how to create them directly from the email client and using a third-party inbox organizer called Clean Email.

What Are Mozilla Thunderbird Filter Rules?

Thunderbird filter rules are sets of instructions for the email client to execute when certain conditions are met.

For example, you can create Thunderbird rules for incoming mail that automatically move messages to appropriate folders so you don’t have to do it manually.

It’s possible for Thunderbird rules to run when you receive a new message, when you send a message, when you archive a message, every 10 minutes, and when you manually trigger them.

Create Filter Rules in Mozilla Thunderbird

Let’s go over the steps you need to follow to create Thunderbird rules that move messages from a specific sender to a folder:

  1. Launch Mozilla Thunderbird.
  2. Open the Tools menu and choose Message Filters.
  3. Click New to create a new filter.
  4. Give the filter a suitable name.
  5. Click the dropdown menu that says Subject and change it to From.
  6. Enter the sender’s email address in the field next to the dropdown menu that says contains.
  7. Under Perform these actions, make sure the Move Message to option is selected and choose the folder where you want to move all messages from the sender you’ve specified in the previous step.
  8. Click OK to confirm.

All new Thunderbird email rules are enabled by default, so you can simply close the Message Filters window and continue using the email client.

To test how Thunderbird rules work, you can press the Run Now button in the Message Filters window and then click Filter Log to display the log file created by the email client.

Disable or Delete Mozilla Thundered Message Filters

Thunderbird email filters that no longer serve their purpose can be disabled or deleted in just a few steps.

To disable Thunderbird filters:

  1. Launch Mozilla Thunderbird.
  2. Choose the Tools menu and choose Message Filters.
  3. Select the checkbox next to the filter you want to disable.

To delete Thunderbird filters:

  1. Launch Mozilla Thunderbird.
  2. Then select the Tools menu and choose Message Filters.
  3. Select the filter you want to delete and click the Delete button.

Reorder Thundered Message Filters

Mozilla’s mail client executes email filters in the order in which they are displayed in the Message Filters window. To reorder your filters:

  1. Launch Thunderbird.
  2. Open the Tools menu and select Message Filters.
  3. Select the filter you want to reorder.
  4. Use the Move Up and Move Down button to change its placement. You can also click Move to Top and Move to Bottom.

Create Rules to Filter Emails with Clean Email

It takes some work to learn the ins and outs of creating rules in Thunderbird, but there’s an even larger issue: the mail client executes message rules only when it’s running.

If you also access your inbox from a mobile device or web browser, then your messages won’t be filtered out until you launch Thunderbird on the computer where you created your rules.

Clean Email, a third-party inbox organizer, doesn’t suffer this problem because it’s a web app, so it’s running all the time and can be accessed from any device with a modern web browser.

Clean up your inbox with Clean EmailClean up your inbox with Clean Email

What’s more, Clean Email makes the process of creating rules a matter of a single click with its Auto Clean feature. Here’s how it works:

  1. Go to:
  2. Connect your mailbox.
  3. Go to your Inbox and select any message that represents the messages you want to filter.
  4. Apply the action you want Clean Email to automatically apply to other similar messages.
  5. Before you confirm the action, choose to apply it to all Selected and future similar emails.

From now on, the inbox organizer will perform the same action automatically. To see all filters you’ve created:

  1. Select the Auto Clean tool from the left pane.
  2. Go to the Your Rules tab.
  3. There, you can pause, edit, or delete your rules.

In addition to streamlining the creation of email filters, Clean Email can help you keep your inbox organized in a number of different ways.

For example, its Unsubscriber feature can stop even the most persistent marketing newsletters and other recurring unwanted messages from making their way into your inbox, stealing your storage space and attention alike.

Unsubscribe from emails with Clean EmailUnsubscribe from emails with Clean Email

The Unsubscriber feature doesn’t care if a subscription message does or doesn’t contain an unsubscribe link—just like a good bouncer can kick out a rowdy patron regardless of whether they cooperate or not.

Other features you should know about include Quick Clean (perfect for making neglected inboxes usable again), Read Later (let’s you temporarily hide emails you don’t have time to read), or Privacy Guard (checks your email address against known data breaches and security incidents).


You can follow the step-by-step instructions provided in this article to create rules in Mozilla Thunderbird to automate your inbox management. However, you might be better off using Clean Email because it’s simple and works around the clock to keep your inbox organized.


What are rules in Thunderbird?

Rules in Mozilla’s mail client are routines that are automatically executed when certain conditions are met. You can use them to save time when managing your messages.

Do Thunderbird rules work when the email client is not running?

No, Thunderbird rules work only when the email client is running. Only web-based inbox organizers like Clean Email can apply rules around the clock.

Why are my Mozilla Thunderbird mail filters not working?

If you notice that your mail filters don’t work, then you should do the following:
1. Launch Thunderbird.
2. Click on the Tools menu and select Message Filters.
3. Click the Filter Log button and check for errors and other issues.

How to copy a message rule in Thunderbird?

You don’t need to create new message rules from scratch every time. To copy a rule in Thunderbird:
1. Launch Thunderbird.
2. Select the Tools menu and click Message Filters.
3. Click the arrow next to the New button.
4. Choose Copy.
5. Configure the new rule and confirm.

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