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I often receive emails with embargoed or sensitive content. Not only that, but I tend to be a bit on the overprotective side when it comes to my communications. To that end, I don't ever want anyone to access my email client and send a contact a message, posing as me. On top of that, I tend to save my account passwords in Thunderbird, which means any time that application is open, it's receiving email.
These types of scenarios are more common than you might think, which is why some email clients add an additional layer of protection. In the case of Thunderbird, that extra protection comes in the form of a Primary Password.
This feature is very similar to that of Firefox's Primary Password, which encrypts all of your saved passwords. When you open Firefox, it will first prompt you for your Primary Password. Until you successfully type that password, Firefox will not have access to any of the passwords you've saved.
Thunderbird takes the same route. Once you've set a Primary Password, any time you open the app, it will first prompt you for the password. If you don't type the password, Thunderbird will open but will continue to prompt for the password (all the while, refusing to download any new messages). Until that password is correctly entered, Thunderbird is unusable.
If that sounds like something you need to add to Thunderbird, read on. If you're not using Thunderbird, and this sounds like a feature you'd like to have, I would suggest downloading and installing the Thunderbird email client on your operating system of choice.
Let's set a Thunderbird Primary Password, so your communications are better protected.
How to set the Thunderbird Primary Password
What you'll need: To make this work, you'll need a working instance of the Thunderbird email client and at least one email account configured. It doesn't matter what platform you use for Thunderbird (it's available for Linux, MacOS, and Windows), as the process is the same. That's all you need. Let's set the password.
1. Open Thunderbird
The first thing for you to do is open the Thunderbird email client. How you open the app will depend on the operating system you are using (and, in the case of Linux, what desktop environment).
2. Open Settings
Click the three-horizontal-line menu button near the top right and click Settings (not Account Settings).
Once Settings opens, click Privacy & Security in the left navigation, and scroll down until you see the Passwords section. From there, click the checkbox for Use a Primary Password.
4. Set your Primary Password
In the resulting window, type and confirm your new Primary Password. I would suggest not using the same password you use to log into your desktop. As well, make sure the password is strong and unique. Once you've typed and retyped your Primary Password, click OK.
Close and re-open Thunderbird. When the app opens, you'll see a prompt for the Primary Password. Type the password you set and click Sign in. If you successfully typed the password, Thunderbird will open and give you access to your accounts. If you fail, Thunderbird will still open but will, once again, prompt you for the Primary Password. Until you successfully type the password, you will not be able to interact with the email client.
And that's all there is to protect your email accounts in Thunderbird. I would highly recommend doing this, especially if you work or live in an environment where multiple people could easily access your email accounts.