For a little while I’ve been wanting to make a more direct distinction between “work” and “personal” email. There’s no particular reason, it just seemed like a good idea. I’ve been using gmail more and more, but am not very good about checking it throughout the day, and I don’t really care for its composition window. So I set up Thunderbird to be my client. For anyone interesting (and to document it so I can configure it at home!), here is what I did. Like any technical solution there are a hundred ways to do it, but this one works for me. It’s a whole lot more convoluted that just setting up the pop access through gmail and configuring a different account, but it was important to me to have both sent and received mail funneling through tmail, so all the threads would be together. This is also not my preferred solution, but gmail doesn’t open up all header information for creating filters.

  • In Thunderbird, go to “Account Settings”, then “Manage Identites”.
  • Add your gmail address as an identity.
  • In the signature you attach, to the very end, add something like (gmail:fileme). If you really want to you could probably use some HTML to hide that, but I didn’t care.
  • Under “Copies & Folders”, have your gmail address sent a BCC of all your messages.
  • Over on gmail, create a new label that will essentially be your “Sent Mail” folder.
  • Now create a filter to forward all incoming messages to your “main” email account, whichever one it is that you monitor throughout the day. Create a filter, and in the “From” box, enter “-gmail address”. The “-” is googles equivalent of NOT or !, and it will prevent the BCC you’re sending your gmail account from getting sent back to you. On the next page, set the action as a forward to your normal address.
  • Lastly, create a filter to feed the “Sent Mail” label. Set “From” as your gmail address, and Has the words to (gmail:fileme) or whatever unique string you picked from above.

Now in Thunderbird, whenever you want to compose a mail that comes from your gmail account, pick it from the “From” selection in your compose window. After you send that mail, it will show up in your “Sent Mail” label (but different from the system “Sent” folder of gmail). When someone replies to that message it should come back to Thunderbird, and when you reply to it should default as coming from your gmail address.

I know there will be some clean up tagging I need to do in gmail at the end of the day, but that shouldn’t be a big deal. I’ve been doing it less than a day, but definately like it so far.