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August 27, 2007

ThunderBird: email accounts across Windows accounts

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This may not apply to a lot of people out there, but, in case you're interested, I've figured out how to make your Thunderbird-accessed email accounts available to all Windows XP user accounts. Unfortunately, Google was not much help in my endeavors. Here's the background: our family computer has almost a one-to-one ratio of user accounts to users; unfortunately, when surfing the internet/checking email, my parents tend to just use whichever account happens to be active when they sit down. So, I had to find a way to make their email account available to every account without having to manually add the email to every single Windows account (Oh, the horror!). So, after a little file-browsing, I finally managed to do it. Best part is, if I want to add another email account to all Windows accounts, I only have to add it once. The worst part is that you can't have an email account on just one Windows account, unless that account works under its own profile, which defeats the purpose. Anyway, on to the how-tos: Prep the folder structure You will be pointing all Thunderbird client instances to the same mail directory on your hard drive, so you should *ahem* quarantine a specific folder for TBird to dump all its email in. I created a directory email under C:\Program Files\Mozilla Thunderbird\ . Create a base profile First you want to create a new profile that you can work with as a base. Go to Start->Run... , type cmd, and press Enter. This will bring up a command line. Navigate to your TBird program folder and run thunderbird -profilemanager: > cd "C:\Program Files\Mozilla Thunderbird" > thunderbird -profilemanager Once the little profile manager pops up, click "Create new profile...", click Next. Give your profile a name (I used my family's last name), then select "Choose Folder..." and select the folder you setup in step 1. Click finish. Optionally, you can delete your "default" profile and/or any profiles you won't be using from here out. Finally, select the new profile and click Start Thunderbird. At this point, you may want to setup an email account under the new profile to see if it carries over to the other Windows accounts. After that, exit TBird. Copy the profile settings to all users In the C:\Documents and Settings\[username]\Application Data\Thunderbird directory, where [username] is the account name that you created the new profile under, there is a file called profiles.ini . You can open this file in notepad to see the contents. Under my configuration (using the email folder for all users), the contents look something like this:


Path=C:\Program Files\Mozilla Thunderbird\email
The IsRelative line tells TBird whether or not the Path line is using a relative (1) or absolute (0) path to the desired email folder. We want 0. Path should point to the folder from step 1. If you still have other profiles that are listed in profiles.ini, you will only want to copy the contents that refer to your global profile. Otherwise, you can copy the entire file over. Where you want to copy it is to the C:\Documents and Settings\[username]\Application Data\Thunderbird directory of every other Windows user you want to share email accounts with. And you're done. Log into someone else's account (or have them do it for you), pull up TBird, and see if the email accounts carry over. Enjoy :)

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