Customizing Thunderbird new account wizard – The ISP file

There is one file that Thunderbird needs to provide a customized new account wizard.  This file is XML-formatted, has either a .RDF or .XML suffix, and must be located in the bin:defaults\isp folder (in the case of Windows, this is usually c:\Program Files\Mozilla Thunderbird\defaults\isp

Since you can name the file anything, in my case I have a file named UNIVMS.xml with the following contents:

<?xml version=”1.0″?>
  <RDF:Description about=”NC:ispinfo”>
      <NC:nsIMsgAccount about=””>
      <NC:prettyName>UNI Email </NC:prettyName>
        <NC:wizardShortName>UNI VMS Username</NC:wizardShortName>
        <NC:wizardLongName>UNI E-mail Account</NC:wizardLongName>
        <NC:emailIDDescription>e-mail alias</NC:emailIDDescription>
        <NC:emailIDFieldTitle>E-mail alias:</NC:emailIDFieldTitle>


Points of interest:

  • wizardLongName = This is what is listed on the Account Wizard->New Account Setup screen along with ‘RSS News & Blogs’ the plain ‘Email account’ and ‘Newsgroup account’
  • deleteModel – 0 = mark IMAP messages for deletion, but they stay until a compact folders operation is completed.  1 = Move item to deleted folder
  • defaultCopiesAndFoldersPrefsToServer – false= do not create or use Sent and Drafts on IMAP server, instead use in Local Folders
  • replyOnTop – 1 = when replying to an email, the original text is quoted below your cursor, so your reply is above the quoted text
  • doFCC – true = make a file carbon copy of messages you compose and send into the sent folder
  • wizardSkipPanels – serverpage = skips asking you for inbound and outbound mail servers; accnamepage = choose your display name inside of Thunderbird; loginpage = supresses the page after the required display name and username/alias page, in which you could define a separate login name from your email name (at UNI we need to show loginpage since faculty/staff have different email alias from their user/login name: – may have login name smithj); true = supresses ALL pages except for the required Display name and username/alias page — this is what most of the world uses, but only works if you login to email with your email alias– for example your email is – and you login with john.smith

If you have multiple mail servers, you can simply add multiple RDF/XML files – as long as their wizard*Names are each unique.

The rest of the fields seem somewhat self-explanitory.  This file allows you to customize a lot of what confuses users when manually configuring Thunderbird: your SMTP server name, if it needs SSL, if you require authentication when sending mail… do I use POP3 or IMAP?  What is my incoming mail server, what encryption does it require … etc.  IMHO, setting this file alone into your Thunderbird distribution will get 99.9% of your users online with basic abilities to send and receive mail.

If you want to customize further – then you need to customize other files.  See the next blog entries.

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