Bugs on email client applications like Mozilla Thunderbird works differently and can attack the Trash folder as well where users get complications and the inability to deleted messages from it. This seems a strange issue but it does occur and annoys Thunderbird users each time.

Read this query “When I press delete key or click the delete button, nothing happens. I must click the right mouse button on the mail, select move to > local directory > trash to delete it.”

Numerous queries like this are posted on Mozilla and other forums. So, in this post, we will shed some light on this matter, but before that, we will discuss the factors that keep Thunderbird alive in the age of advanced paid email clients:

  • It is the most reliable email client for the casual Linux enthusiasts
  • Extremely customizable and resilient
  • HTML edit features
  • Combining multiple calendars in one
  • Stores data in open source MBOX format (Access MBOX files in Outlook by using Import MBOX to PST tool.)

Moreover, Thunderbird is open-source software. Anybody can download and use it without any cost.

Try This Manual Fix if Unable to Delete Messages

If you are getting error “Cannot Delete Messages in Thunderbird”, then it might be caused by a corrupted trash folder.

  1. Click on the “Display Menu” button. Next, select “Help” and then click on “Troubleshooting information.” This will open the Troubleshooting Information tab (see the snippet below).
  2. Troubleshooting Information tab

  3. Head to the “Application Basics” section and then click on “Open Folder.” This will open a profile folder.
  4. Open profile folder

  5. Now close Thunderbird.
  6. Now, open the “Mail” or “ImapMail” folder in your file manager.
  7. Now open the folder bearing the name of your incoming server (something like imap.gmail.com)
  8. Select the “Trash” and “Trash.msf” files and hit delete.
  9. delete Trash.msf file

  10. In some accounts, these may be named Bin or Deleted.
  11. Next, restart the Thunderbird client.
    1. If you are using IMAP client like Gmail, then the trash folder will be automatically created by the Thunderbird.
    2. If you are using POP/POP3
      • Go to the folder list and right-click on your account name and select “New Folder.”
      • Next, enter “Trash” as the folder’s name and confirm by clicking on the “Create Folder.”

Hopefully, the “Trash” will reappear, and you will be able to delete the files in it.

The previously mentioned method is not foolproof and has some drawbacks.

  • It has been found out that this is not a permanent fix and the deleted messages might reappear. Then the user might have to repeat the process several times. Also, the process can be overly frustrating and time-consuming.

Read Also : Export MBOX File from Your Gmail Account, And Restore MBOX Emails Back to Gmail Account

Migrate from Thunderbird to MS Outlook

If you are facing issues like this frequently, then maybe it’s time to migrate from Thunderbird to MS Outlook. Though, Thunderbird is still a trendy email client even though Mozilla has dropped the priority of Thunderbird development, Mozilla is now offering only “Extended Support,” which deliver security and maintenance updates, while allowing the community to take over the development of new features.

It is a well-known fact that MS Outlook has overthrown every other desktop email client. Moreover, it is easy to manage Outlook. We recommend the user to migrate from MBOX file format to a PST file format. One such tool is MBOX to PST converter. With this tool, it is now easier to migrate from MBOX/MBX/MBS Emails to PST, DBX, MSG, EML, Office 365, and Exchange Server. Some of its features are listed below:

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  • Supports 20 MBOX email clients
  • Can migrate multiple MBOX files at a time
  • It can also convert all emails and attachments to PST, DBX, MSG, and EML
  • Directly saves MBOX mailbox items to Exchange Server, Domino, and GroupWise
  • Preview feature lets the user preview the mailbox items before saving
  • It also supports all MS Outlook versions

MBOX to PST software home screen


We have discussed a bug in Thunderbird which does not allow the user to delete messages. We have discussed the corruption issue with the Trash folder and how to get past this. If the user is still unable to resolve this with the manual method and the deleted messages keep reappearing after some time, then it is recommended to migrate from Thunderbird to Outlook 2016/2013. If the user doesn’t want to spend much time on manual migration, then we recommend MBOX to PST tool. This tool comes with a ton of features and will save you a lot of time.

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