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Thunderbird Webmail Extension

I am a big user of freely available software. Here is a short list of what I use.

  1. Firefox – no brainer
  2. Paint.NET – Image editing
  3. WordPress – Server blog software
  4. Thunderbird – email

Thunderbird 2.0 now integrates with Vista. I like it because it’s a full fledged email client. In order to use it with web mail, you need to turn on POP3 with the mail provider. Google Mail supports this but with Yahoo and Hotmail you need to shell out some dollars.

With the Webmail extension for Thunderbird you can treat Yahoo, Hotmail, and a bunch of others as if they were a POP3 mailbox. The extension listens on localhost on a port that you can decide (defaults are POP3 at 110, SMTP at 25, and and IMAP at 143) and receives e-mail from the site for you. Thunderbird then connects to localhost to get the POP3 mail.

Webmail extension dialogOn my Vista system I could not use the port defaults. It’s probably due to Vista goofiness or the personal firewall software I use. I first installed the Webmail extension and changed the defaults to 8110 and 8025. Here is what the options dialog box looked like.

After that I installed the additional Yahoo and Hotmail extensions and configured them both for the BETA website versions. With the Web Mail extension installed in Thunderbird 2.0 you can now add Webmail accounts. These accounts are just POP3 mail accounts that happen to speak to localhost. I changed the account names to make them shorter. If all goes well you should have something like this added to your folders list.

Webmail folders

This also works in Thunderbird 1.5 (I tried it on my Ubuntu laptop) except 1.5 puts all the mail into one local folder. In the current version each account gets its own inbox.

Thanks to this extension I can now use Yahoo and Hotmail email with Thunderbird without setting up (read as: pay for) POP3 access. This is a neat solution and provides a shim to make web based email accessible via more common interfaces such as POP3.

Categories: Geek Software

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Jan Dembowski

27 replies

  1. In the webmail options did you switch the ports to ports greater that 1024?

    I think the default ports won’t work in Vista.

    If that does not work, when I get home tonight I’ll look over my setup.

  2. Hi Jan! That was quick, I followed your examples and used “I first installed the Webmail extension and changed the defaults to 8110 and 8025.” No joy there 🙂
    Any help on this would be great, not much attention in the moz forums on this…

  3. This is too cool an extension to not have working 🙂

    When I get home I’ll walk through a fresh install and see if I missed anything.

    Are you using Thunderbird 2.0? That’s what I have on my Vista box and I want to make the install apples to apples for what your using. On my Ubuntu labtop I use Thunderbird 1.5.

  4. I’ve been using this extension since my XP Box from Thunderbird 1.3.

    Currently I am on
    Vista Ultimate
    Thunderbird 2.0
    Webmail 1.2.1
    Webmail – Hotmail 1.2.1
    Webmail – Yahoo 1.2.0

    I also have norton internet security which I have tried disabling during testing.

    Hope you can get it to work!

    Thanks again!

  5. On Yahoo and Hotmail in the options, have you selected the BETA web mail interface?

    I setup everything and it did not work until I selected those options in the following extensions:

    Webmail – Hotmail
    Webmail – Yahoo

  6. With Webmail – Hotmail 1.2.1 the option is now Hotmail Live (New Website)
    Uh huh…I tried all the 3 options 🙂

  7. Ben,

    Well, the versions I have match the one’s you have

    WebMail 1.2.1
    Web Mail – Hotmail 1.2.1
    WebMail – Yahoo 1.2.0

    On Hotmail it’s set to the third option

    “Hotmail Live (New website)”

    On Yahoo it’s set to

    “BETA Website”

    So we’re in sync there.

    Here is something to try. Enable the telnet client on Vista (if it’s not there already) with the instructions at this website.

    Use the start menu and select “Command Prompt”

    Start Thunderbird and leave it running. At the command prompt type in

    telnet localhost 8025

    If the WebMail add-on is working then in the Command Prompt window you should see

    220 WebMail SMTP

    Anything you type will cause it to complain so don’t worry about that.

    Use ‘CTRL-]’ and ‘q’ to quit that telnet session. Repeat the same command but this time with

    telnet localhost 8110

    Which should get you

    +OK POP3 thats cool man

    Again use ‘CTRL-]’ and ‘q’ to quit that telnet session.

    If those two commands get you that in the Command Prompt window, then you are doing ok.

    Now for checking your Account Properties. Right click your ‘Web Mail – Yahoo’ or Hotmail account in Thunderbird and select Properties.

    The Server Name field should be localhost, the Port should be 8110.

    The User Name should be spelled out with ‘’. The Hotmail account should be with the domain added to the User Name.

    Once that is confirmed, go back to the Yahoo Options and click on the Globals tab. Make sure that the “Use Short ID” us unchecked (left empty, not selected).

    The Hotmail add-on does not have any options like that.

    Give that a shot and see if it works. If the telnet commands give you results, then you are half-way there.

    For testing I suggest that you try sending mail from Yahoo or Hotmail to something else like GMail.

  8. In the end it was the simplest thing!
    I forgot to change the port in the account settings! Once that was done, it works straight!

    Thanks so much Jan! You solved a problem the moz webmail forums didn’t 🙂

  9. I feel I made friend 🙂 I can’t find your email anywhere on the site, but keeping in touch would be fun?

  10. Hi,
    I’ve been trying to install webmail 1.2.3 but it says it is not compatible with Fire fox. I have the lastest version of Mozilla and Thunderbird. I have also just got a new computer with Vista.
    Can you shed any light on this?

  11. Tim,

    I’ll take a look at it later on this evening and let you know (about to run to work).

    I recently had a problem with Vista where I had to save the extensions to a directory and then load the extension into Thinderbird; I think you may be having the same problem.

    Check back in 8 hours or so. I’ll see if I can figure out if something changes in Vista, Thunderbird, or both.

  12. I just tried with Hotmail and Yahoo.

    Both accounts had to be set to username [at] and username [at] (replace the [at] with the correct symbol).

    Yahoo I had to tell to use the Beta website. With Hotmail I use Hotmail Live.

    Yahoo worked fine; Hotmail is giving me problems. The message is recognized but not downloading correctly.

  13. Phil,

    Are you able to telnet to the localhost port you set when you installed it? See the comment I left above , it’s in my response to Ben dated “04 Jun 2007 at 5:10 pm”.

    If that works while the extension is installed and Thunderbird is running then you should be good to go.

    If that does not work (which your comment indicates is the case…) then I suggest you try another port besides 8110. Any port greater than 1024 should work.

  14. Trying to get Thunderbird to work with webmail…. It was working fine for several months, but suddenly died out on 8May2008. (Yahoo & Hotmail both)

    Have reinstalled webmail addon as well as yahoo / htommail addons. (versions : webmail 1.3.2, yahoo – 1.3.3b8, hotmail 1.2.15)

    telnet is replying correctly for webmail on ports 1234/1235 (pop & smtp).

    Account Settings Port settings for hotmail & yahoo have been set correctly.
    Usernames include domain names…other addon settings are also Ok..

    Have tried disabling Firewall and AV (Eset Nod32) as well as Defender. Firewall excludes Thunderbird and the ports used.

    but still cannot access webmail 🙁

    Any help will be highly appreciated.


  15. Anurag,

    I’ve had it stop working on me a few months ago for a couple of days, but then an update came out and it was working.

    Right now I’m using

    Webmail 1.3.2
    WebMail – Hotmail 1.2.15
    Webmail – Yahoo 1.3.2

    Can you downgrade the Yahoo to 1.3.2? It seems like you should be working.

    There may be something in the 1.3.3b8 that is not playing nicely with the other components.

    Hope that works,

    Jan Dembowski

  16. Jan,
    thanks for the quick reply…

    I downgraded to the yahoo 1.3.2 – no difference.
    Hotmail isnt working as well…. Cant figure out what can be wrong.

    Tell me something – if the telnet to the ports is working fine that means there isnt any issue with the local firewall / AV … right ?

    Then what do you think can be the problem ??


  17. Anurag,

    Sorry for not getting back to you sooner.

    If you can telnet to the ports (while Thunderbird is running) and you get something like

    +OK POP3 thats cool man

    Then you should be good to go.

    Try setting up using different ports. Worst case scenario is to remove and re-install the add-ons.

  18. cant get the pop3 to work.port 995 open on router, 2525 works for smtp, but no pop3 is working for me.

    995 works for t-bird okay.will try opening 110 up.

  19. Rich,

    The ports that the WebMail extension starts listening to are on your PC using localhost (

    For pop3 are you using port 8110? I had problems using 110 on my PC.

  20. Thankyou, so simple I can’t beleive I missed it. Now its fixed. Thank you again.

  21. hmmm.. I wanna backup all my old email from webmail yahoo acc to my PC but thunderbird webmail extension download just last 25 or 50 old emails(i mean messages that are already read) and after that every new arrived messages.. is there any way to download whole inbox (500+ emails)? is there any way to download messages saved in some subdirectory of yahoo inbox? 10q 4 reply.. 🙂 cheers

  22. Ewoks,

    That’s a good question! My yahoo/hotmail/gmail mailboxes never has that much mail so I’ve never run into that.

    It’s been an age since I’ve played with the settings but can you setup the extension to access Yahoo via IMAP instead of POP3?

    If the messages show up, you should be able to drag and drop them into a folder in Thunderbird.