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Issue with Thunderbird and the sent and draft folders, only affects some mailboxes

Oliver1
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Registered: ‎20-10-2010

Issue with Thunderbird and the sent and draft folders, only affects some mailboxes

OK I think this might duplicate someone else's issue but...

We have several systems using Plusnet mailboxes, where Thunderbird is configured by default to use the IMAP drafts and sent folders. If you close a message before sending it is put into drafts, if you send it it is put in sent.

Recently I configured Thunderbird for someone who had been using Livemail. I found that messages would not save to drafts or sent, TB just waits endlessly. The folders are there and webmail can use them, also you can manually move messages into them it is just the automatic save that hangs.

I made a new test mailbox. TB also failed to save messages.

All the working mailboxes appear to be OLD, set up over three years ago.

 

To test this issue create a mailbox, add it to Thunderbird as an IMAP account, compose a message and click to close the window. It will ask if you want to save to drafts. Select yes. If it works the window will close and the message will be in drafts. If it fails the window will show some kind of endless "progress bar" in the corner.

 

Oh and for clarification I know sent and draft messages can be stored locally instead. I have reasons for not wanting to use that.

 

9 REPLIES
Superuser
Superuser
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Registered: ‎06-04-2007

Re: Issue with Thunderbird and the sent and draft folders, only affects some mailboxes

Have you tried creating a new mailbox (in Manage My Mail), then before setting it up in Thunderbird login to the new mailbox using webmail (https://webmail.plus.net) and send a test message.

This should create the proper directory structure for the new mailbox.

Now try setting the account up in Thunderbird. Verify the settings on Thunderbird's Copies and Folders screen. Do these need amending?

David
Oliver1
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Registered: ‎20-10-2010

Re: Issue with Thunderbird and the sent and draft folders, only affects some mailboxes

I've tried this. A new mailbox definitely doesn't work. I'm trying to establish the pattern as it seemed to work fine with "established" mailboxes and not with newer ones, but this may be wrong.

Now it seems more likely that it is old established Thunderbird setups that work, and that newly added accounts have problems that don't exist if the account was added in the past.

This makes me wonder if there has been a change to account defaults in Thunderbird?

UPDATE

I finally spotted what was happening, or NOT happening: The Sent and Draft folders still had standard folder icons not the special ones like the paper for draft and the frame thing (a stamp?) for sent.

Turns out if you leave it as default it fails to point at the correct folder but if you select that folder manually it works and the icons change to what you expect. It seems like a reproducable bug in TB and not on Plusnet's side?

Superuser
Superuser
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Registered: ‎22-08-2007

Re: Issue with Thunderbird and the sent and draft folders, only affects some mailboxes

It’s not quite like that. When a new email account is created, only the inbox is created. Other folders are create as required by an email client, be that webmail, TB, Outlook (which ever variety) or a phone.

Personally to ensure consistent naming conventions I recommend immediately logging in to the new mailbox from webmail. Create an email and save it. Edit it and send it. Then delete it.

This creates the Draft, Sent and Trash folders which other email clients will then correctly pick up under IMAP ... with consistent names.
Oliver1
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Registered: ‎20-10-2010

Re: Issue with Thunderbird and the sent and draft folders, only affects some mailboxes

I know that's what's meant to happen but I assure you that with newly set up mailboxes it isn't happening unless I manually point it at "sent" and "drafts". The giveaway is the folder icons. The folders do exist, they are shown, but by default they are just treated as regular IMAP folders with no special function.

Since it works fine with established mailboxes I believed that a bug had been introduced to the software (TB not Plusnet), and I think if I could access the mailbox configuration file directly then all would become clear.

Since then I've looked at the prefs.js file where the accounts are stored.

In the test mailbox when it fails the line looks like:

user_pref("mail.identity.id4.fcc_folder", "imap://coaxial%2Btest@imap.plus.net/Sent");

If I point it manually at inbox/sent the line looks like

user_pref("mail.identity.id4.fcc_folder", "imap://coaxial%2Btest@imap.plus.net/INBOX/Sent");

So it is now explicitly pointed to inbox/sent.

 

This is strange as it seems as if the mail client always does this, as the configurations for old accounts don't specifically say inbox either. I'm now wondering if there is something cached elsewhere that would override prefs.js

Another observation: If I change the destination for one of the old accounts the Drafts folder continues to have the "Drafts" icon, and so does the new one. It seems as if for the working mailboxes there are "baked in" special folders, but for new mailboxes there are just regular folders (including ones named "Sent" and "Drafts") that have no special significance unless manually selected.

 

Superuser
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Registered: ‎22-08-2007

Re: Issue with Thunderbird and the sent and draft folders, only affects some mailboxes

What I suspect here from history (so precise detail might be flawed) is that when a new IMAP client is introduced to an existing (used) mailbox, it works out which are the special folders.

I believe the PN email box creation process used to create the special folders - now it clearly does not.

When a new IMAP client is introduced to a new unused mail box, there are no special folders and he client needs to create them.  Possibly in the case of TB, they are not being identified as special folders.

Personally I have very little working knowledge of TB., but I have seen similar dysfunctionality with some flavours of MS Outlook.

 

Superuser
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Re: Issue with Thunderbird and the sent and draft folders, only affects some mailboxes


@Oliver1 wrote:

Since it works fine with established mailboxes I believed that a bug had been introduced to the software (TB not Plusnet), and I think if I could access the mailbox configuration file directly then all would become clear. 


If you want to take a look at what folders actually exist in a mailbox you could use telnet and enter basic IMAP commands. On a Windows computer it might be necessary to add the telnet feature first. For Windows 10 start typing "turn windows features on or off" in the search box and select this as Best match. Then follow the instructions in the image.W10Features.png

 Do you want to try this?

David
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Oliver1
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Registered: ‎20-10-2010

Re: Issue with Thunderbird and the sent and draft folders, only affects some mailboxes

I would like to try telnet, however I'm having some difficulty finding a reference for IMAP commands beyond login.

I managed to log in and get a folder listing but that was the extent of it.

I'm particularly interested in any folder attribute data that the server might supply

 

I'm thinking of making a temporary server such as hmailserver and see what happens.

 

Superuser
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Registered: ‎06-04-2007

Re: Issue with Thunderbird and the sent and draft folders, only affects some mailboxes

RFC 3501 is the official IMAPrev4 descriotion http://www.faqs.org/rfcs/rfc3501.html though I think ACL access rights are in a supplement.

You could try

C:\Users\username> telnet imap.plus.net 143
   which will clear the window then show
* OK [CAPABILITY IMAP4 IMAP4REV1] perdition ready on mail.plus.net 00000000
   enter
a login username password
  to login which results in
a OK LOGIN Ok.
b list "" *
* LIST (\HasNoChildren) "." "INBOX.Trash"
* LIST (\HasNoChildren) "." "INBOX.Spam"
* LIST (\HasNoChildren) "." "INBOX.Sent"
* LIST (\HasNoChildren) "." "INBOX.Drafts"
* LIST (\Unmarked \HasChildren) "." "INBOX"
b OK LIST completed
to list the folders c myrights INBOX * MYRIGHTS "INBOX" "acdilrsw" c OK MYRIGHTS completed.
lists the access rights for INBOX d myrights "INBOX.Sent" * MYRIGHTS "INBOX.Sent" "acdilrsw" d OK MYRIGHTS completed.
lists the access rights for INBOX.Sent e logout * BYE Courier-IMAP server shutting down e OK LOGOUT completed
terminates the session

There are many more commands (in fact all of them since telnet is behaving as an email client) but I'll leave it at that for starters.

Edit: missed out the login command word at the top of the list. Embarrassed

David
Superuser
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Re: Issue with Thunderbird and the sent and draft folders, only affects some mailboxes

The meaning of the rights string "acdilrsw" in a nutshell is

a  files    can be appended to
c  folders  can have files created in them
d  both     can be deleted
i  files    content can be inserted into a folder (ie copy message to it)
l  folders  can be listed
r  files    can be read
s  files    seen state of message can be maintained/changed
w  files    can be written to

Files == emails/messages in that list.

David