Mailfence with Thunderbird on Windows 10
Edit: These steps will not work on Thunderbird 78 which has disabled certain types of plugin. The necessary plugins do install but can’t be configured.
It definitely works on Thunderbird 68 though.
Mailfence is a security-conscious email alternative to the big players such as Google, Microsoft et.al. It protects your messages from prying eyes and sends emails securely.
I’ve had an account with them for a year now and they’re pretty good, and actually fairly cheap for my requirements. They also provide free email so long as you don’t mind logging in via web browser.
Email, Calendars and contacts
Email setup is actually relatively simple and will work on most things, Outlook, Windows 10 Mail, etc.
However setting up the calendar and contacts list is a little more tricky.
What’s needed is something called calDAV and cardDAV integration. CAL as in “Calendar”, and “Card” as in the little cards you might have once used to record your contacts on in the 1950s.
If you haven’t already realized, IT people aren’t great at naming things.
CALDAV and CARDDAV are “protocols”, which are just rules of engagement, how information is arranged, in what order, etc.
Unfortunately, Outlook and Windows 10 calendar won’t integrate with these protocols. Nor will many other email applications.
Thunderbirds are GO!
The one application that will work with all these is Mozilla Thunderbird, the free, open-source email application which works on all computers.
You’ll find your Mailfence settings after you login to your account.
At the top right there’s My settings. Just click one of the links and it’ll open a popup window with everything you need.
Setup your email as IMAP, as this will keep your online account and local account synchronized. That is, the messages on your computer will match those in your online account.
To setup your contacts and calendar you’ll need some Thunderbird Addons, which are free downloadable features.
Click Tools > Add-Ons
Search for Lightning > Add to Thunderbird
Search for Provider for CalDav &CardDav > Add to Thunderbird
Search for Tbsync then click Add to Thunderbird.
Once installed, setup with these steps.
Click Tools > Add-On Options > TBsync
Account Actions > Add new account > CalDav & CardDav > Manual configuration
Enter your Mailfence username and password (e.g., email@example.com)
Cut and paste the Private CalDav settings from the Mailfence popup
Cut and paste the Pricate CardDav settings from the Mailfence popup
Click Next to confirm the settings.
Click Finish when the settings are confirmed.
Now perform your first synchronization.
Select your account
Tick Enable and synchronize this account and both the Available Resources.
Click Synchronize Now
If all goes well, you’ll have two-way access to your calendar and contacts list.
Making Thunderbird look nicer (bonus information)
Thunderbird’s default look and feel is a bit “early 2000’s for my liking. But luckily, there’s a “theme” for that.
Click Tools > Add-Ons > Themes
I chose the “Monterail” theme, either Dark or Full Dark, which makes Thunderbird look a bit more modern. However, there’s lots to choose from.
Then there’s these add-ons which I find useful.
- Unread badge — displays an “unread emails” count over the Thunderbird toolbar icon.
- Folder Account — use to associate specific accounts or identities with selected folders
- Open With — force thunderbird to open URLs in the web browser you choose, rather than the Windows system default
- Category Manager — categorize your contact list
- Thunderbird conversations — makes email messages work a little like text conversations.
Microsoft needs to do better with basic operating system functionality such as calendars and contacts. But as always, there’s a workaround.