Home > Linux/Unix, Open-Source > How-To Force Thunderbird to Open Links in Firefox

How-To Force Thunderbird to Open Links in Firefox

It’s been some time since I’ve been using Thunderbird as an e-mail client and it’s the favorite to me.

One thing Thunderbird let me amazed at was its incapability to open hyperlinks in the default browser (FireFox in my case). So, all this time whenever I want to open links I copy and paste them in the address bar in FireFox.  This process, switching back and forth between Thunderbird and FireFox is really frustrating and i was really annoyed at that.  How come a popular e-mail client like Thunderbird is incapable of opening links in the default browser, and of course this doesn’t make sense “Thunderbird one of the most popular e-mail clients can’t open links in the browser!!!”.

After making a little effort I found that I was wrong, and Thunderbird does open links in your default browser by simply editing the Thunderbird configurations, (same way when editing FireFox configurations, i.e. type “about:config” in the address bar).

Opening links feature can work by doing the following:

Preferences/Advanced-->Config Editor




In a nutshell,  add the following preferences by following the above steps:

Preference Name Value
network.protocol-handler.app.ftp /usr/bin/firefox
network.protocol-handler.app.http /usr/bin/firefox
network.protocol-handler.app.https /usr/bin/firefox

Now, Thunderbird should open links in FireFox!!

Note: If the above steps didn’t work for you then follow the steps suggested by Lennart at comment#:4 OR comment#:37

  1. Brian
    January 23, 2010 at 9:30 am

    Didn’t work here. I am using the pre-release versions of firefox, so right now I have Namoroka. if I run /usr/bin/firefox from the terminal it does open the browser, but I do think it’s a ‘link’ to a different file.

    Any other ideas?

    • Husain Al-Khamis
      January 23, 2010 at 7:34 pm

      Hi Brian,
      You’ve already stated the root cause of why it didn’t work with you. It is the mapping to the directory containing the FireFox binary file.

      Well, one thing I missed here to mention in my post is that I did it under Ubuntu. But I don’t think that might affect.

      So, my question to you is, Did you:
      1)install the FireFox from the Ubuntu repository using apt-get command? OR
      2)download it from mozilla website?”

      If it is the 2nd case then you have to map the links to where you extracted the downloaded package where the binary file is there!!


  2. Francis
    February 5, 2010 at 11:30 pm

    Having the same issue here with Namoroka d/l from http://ppa.launchpad.net/ubuntu-mozilla-daily/ppa/ubuntu/

    Any suggestions?

  3. Lennart
    February 12, 2010 at 2:11 am

    I had the same problem and the following helped:

    1.Follow instructions from Husain above
    2. Open edit -> preferences, click attachments
    For Content Type http select “use other” and browse to /usr/bin/firefox and select it.

    The same applies for Namoroka

    • Francis
      February 12, 2010 at 3:57 am

      Awesome. Thanks!

    • February 20, 2010 at 12:23 am

      Sadly for me, I don’t have an http content type and see no way to add it 😦

      • Francis
        February 20, 2010 at 12:33 am

        This is just an educated guess:

        Go the the Advanced tab of Thunderbird’s preferences and click the Config Editor… button.

        You should be able to add the following entries:

        * network.protocol-handler.app.http
        * network.protocol-handler.app.https

        And then follow the aforementioned procedure.

        Let us know how it goes.

      • Husain Al-Khamis
        February 20, 2010 at 10:06 pm

        @Tyler Style

        I can’t agree more than @Francis. Please, follow what he told you to do and tell us what happened with you?

        What Thunderbird version do you run?

    • Surender
      August 28, 2010 at 9:16 am

      Thanks a ton 🙂

      • Husain Al-Khamis
        August 30, 2010 at 5:09 am

        No problem 🙂

    • January 29, 2012 at 4:24 am

      Thanks. This helped a lot.

    • Rigil Kent
      October 29, 2015 at 10:24 am

      Thanks a lot, even in 2015 this kept bugging me after switching from firefox to (mostly) chromium 😉

  4. Husain Al-Khamis
    February 12, 2010 at 4:36 am

    Your help to others is very much appreciated. I’ve been wondering why the above steps didn’t work with some people.
    Thank you very much!

    Glad that your issue has been resolved.
    Good luck!


    • kams
      April 19, 2010 at 12:45 pm

      Same issue for me as well.. I added the strings in thunder bird .But did not work.Den trid to change content type in attachements tab.. There is no way to add content type..Anything else can help me out?


      • Husain Al-Khamis
        April 20, 2010 at 11:15 pm


        there is no “Add Content Type” button under “attachments” tab. You go to the “HTML” file type and click on “Change Action” button. From there, choose the application through which you would like to run your file or link. In your case, it is FireFox..

  5. March 20, 2010 at 9:19 pm

    Hi Husain and all!
    I’ve followed every steps both you and Lennart mentioned above with no luck 😦
    My Thunderbird version is 3.0.3. Any other suggestion?

  6. March 20, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    Aw sorry guys, that’s sorted!!!! I had ThunderBrows add-on installed in my Thunderbird. I removed it now, therefore I can open my links in FireFox.

    • Husain Al-Khamis
      March 20, 2010 at 9:54 pm

      Hey Barbara,

      Good to hear that you did it 🙂
      Now, I’m wondering myself whether the above steps would work on the lase Thunderbird version. I haven’t tried Thunderbird 3.X. Last version I used is 2.0.24!

      But, since it worked with you then I guess the steps are same!!

  7. March 20, 2010 at 10:24 pm

    I am not sure though… I know it worked as soon as I uninstalled ThunderBrowse, but I don’t know if it is connected to the steps above… I might try to cancel all the entries I added and see how it goes…

  8. Scam3r
    April 27, 2010 at 11:44 am

    Thanks Husain, this really helped solve my problem, it seems thunderbird lost all it’s config after an update, but all working now, thanks again for your tutorial…

    • Husain Al-Khamis
      May 17, 2010 at 9:21 pm

      No problem!

  9. Bob G
    March 6, 2011 at 10:00 am

    I tried all the above without success. The answer for me was very simple, make Firefox the default browser. That did it.

    • Dan
      December 22, 2011 at 12:27 pm

      That worked for me. How simple that was. I had tried Chrome and never switched the default back to Firefox. Go figure.

  10. June 24, 2011 at 11:19 am

    I’m a bit late to the party here but stumbled across this while having the same problem.

    I had done the config editor step in Thunderbird and went to system settings->default applications and set up firefox there but still links were opening in rekonq. The final solution for me was to open up a terminal window and do:

    sudo update-alternatives –config x-www-browser

    then select the line number that displayed /usr/bin/firefox.

    • August 4, 2011 at 2:01 am

      Glenn’s comment worked for me! But there’s a little error in the command above.

      sudo update-alternatives –config x-www-browser

      this one worked for me. Thanks!

      • August 4, 2011 at 2:02 am

        wordpress seems to break the command. it should be 2 – leadingh config, not —

  11. Joe
    October 12, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    I would have thought this problem would have been resolved by now but unfortunately still prevails in Xubuntu 11.04 with Thunderbird as standard email client and Mozilla Firefox as browser.

    Shall follow the tips provided and hope to succeed.

    Thanks for the tips.

  12. Chris
    October 13, 2011 at 11:38 am

    This problem just started happening for me today. I updated something, and suddenly everything began opening in Google Chrome(ium?). So I removed Chrome. Now links won’t open at all, haha.

    I tried the solutions above, first adding the preferences settings, and then trying to change my default HTML/HTTP application to Firefox, but there’s no listing for HTML nor HTTP in my Applications page! So….I’m not sure what to do at this point.

  13. Chris
    October 17, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    This is Chris again…

    I noticed that my IM client was not opening links anymore either, so I tried a couple more things and was able to resolve the problem by doing the following:

    1.) Open – System > Preferences > Preferred Applications
    2.) Set Web Browser to “Firefox” (from drop-down menu)
    3.) Set option to “Open link in new tab” (optional)

    I think something in the update I did on Thursday morning messed this up. Reporting my fix for anyone else experiencing this problem.

  14. Luke Kendall
    December 11, 2011 at 12:43 am

    I had the same problem after upgrading from Ubuntu 9.10 to 10.04. The mail from Chris, Oct 17th, was the only way to sort my problem, too, despite applying all the other suggestions. It makes perfect sense, too, since the Preferred Applications tool revealed that I had in the distant past set the Web Browser (and mail, too) to open a Custom path (to an older firefox which I wouldn’t expect to work under 10.04). Simply setting that option to Firefox fixed my problem. Thanks, Chris!

  15. baiki
    December 26, 2011 at 5:03 am


    Using Linux Mint Debian Edition, I simply startet FF and said it shall be the default browser and suddenly all links in TB opened again with FF. FYI: I previously installed Opera and links from TB opened in Opera. However, telling FF to be default browser fixed my problem.


  16. CollieJim
    January 6, 2012 at 6:48 am

    I have made the changes indicated to my config file, and, while clicking on a link starts firefox, the URL is not passed. I only get my home page.

  17. February 8, 2012 at 9:45 am

    I found that on my system I could only get thunderbird to pass links to firefox when I edited
    and added a %u to the

    I don’t like this sort of thing particularly as I am not too sure what is going on.

    Can someone e-mail me an explanation.

  18. Sw2fv
    May 21, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    For the next to read this: I had to edit ~/.local/share/applications/mimeapps.list and replace any “unwanted browser” with “wanted browser”. I am using Xubuntu 12.04 and wanted to change from Firefox to Chromium.

  19. Samu
    July 26, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    Thanks Sw2fv, your suggestion is the only that works for me!!!

  20. Swobb Shop Online Romania
    September 18, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    Hello to every one, the contents present at this web site are in fact remarkable for people
    knowledge, well, keep up the good work fellows.

  21. October 14, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    Francis :
    This is just an educated guess:
    Go the the Advanced tab of Thunderbird’s preferences and click the Config Editor… button.
    You should be able to add the following entries:
    * network.protocol-handler.app.http
    * network.protocol-handler.app.https
    And then follow the aforementioned procedure.
    Let us know how it goes.

    Nope. Still doesn’t work for me. Beyond annoying. Carried out all the instructions in the main post. Didn’t work. Then tried the Edit->Preferences->Attachments thing. No existing entry and no way to add one.



  22. Lennart
    November 5, 2012 at 5:58 am

    Seems the network.protocol-handler.app.* settings doesn’t work anymore. You need to follow the last part of the instructions at http://kb.mozillazine.org/Setting_Your_Default_Browser#Setting_the_browser_that_opens_in_Thunderbird_-_Linux .

    In essence Go to the config editor as before and set

    * network.protocol-handler.warn-external.http
    * network.protocol-handler.warn-external.https
    * network.protocol-handler.warn-external.ftp

    all to true (by double-clicking). The next time you click on an URL you’ll be prompted to select an application which should open the URL. Select whatever browser you want, check the box to let it be the default, and you should be set.

  23. December 4, 2012 at 9:38 am

    Thank you Lennart. That did it.

  24. Hardy
    February 19, 2013 at 8:03 am

    didn’t worked for me, but setting network.protocol-handler.warn-external.http and network.protocol-handler.warn-external.https to true worked.
    after that, a pop-up appears next time when you click on a link, dont select the default “firefox” entry in it, select /usr/bin/firefox via the filesystem.

  25. February 20, 2013 at 4:50 am

    Same as Hardy! It worked by enabling the warn-external flags. For the reference: I’m running Thunderbird 17.0.3 and Firefox 18.0.2, not installed but running out of their tarballs.

  26. B. Simon
    February 28, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    Thank god…. that was ticking me off HUGE. I had access to IE disabled but had to turn it back on just for that.

  27. Tom
    June 22, 2013 at 5:13 pm

    In Kubuntu, the user preferences for Thunderbird are in
    It is dangerous to edit this file.
    Lennart says set
    to true.
    This then causes TBird to recognize
    which is set as Lennart describes.
    You will then see this line in prefs.js.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: