Mozilla Thunderbird: Subscribe nested folders and subfolders

Well I’ve been trying to organize my mailbox – basically create folders/subfolders and organize my emails for quite some time now. Today I finally managed to get some time and decided to go ahead with this seemingly simple activity. I’mean how difficult is it to create folders/subfolders and move emails right?

Now I have MS Exchange Server at work which has been IMAP-enabled so that I can access my mailbox from my phone and from Thunderbird (on my Linux box). I organized all my emails in folders and subfolders (nested upto 2-3 levels) using MS Outlook at work and later when I tried to access my mailbox using Thunderbird, I realized that it was not displaying all my folders and subfolders.

So I go to my Mail Account Settings to explicitly subscribe the folders/subfolders. That’s when I found out that it was simply fetching/displaying the top-level folders and the immediate subfolders (nested 1 level). It was not displaying the nested subfolders within other subfolders. So in the example below, only folders X and A were being displayed while B and C were not.

 |___ A
      |___ B
           |___ C

So in the time-tested manner I googled for some answer and came across quite a few forums where people have faced the same problem.

I didn’t find much help till I came across –

So this is how I fixed the problem:

  • Remove your mail account (e.g. and recreate it just to be on the safe side. You can skip this too.. I just didn’t
  • Right click on your mail account folder and go to the Mail Server Settings i.e.
    Account Settings –> –> Server Settings
  • Mozilla Thunderbird Account Settings

  • Now press the button “Advanced” to view the “Advanced Account Settings”. Uncheck the option “Show only subscribed folders” and press “OK“.

    Mozilla Thunderbird Advanced Account Settings

    Now the moment you connect to your mail server, this will fix two things:

    1. You won’t have to explicitly subscribe each folder/subfolder
    2. All folders and nested subfolders get fetched and displayed automatically

19 thoughts on “Mozilla Thunderbird: Subscribe nested folders and subfolders

  1. Thanks – saved me a few hours (not to mention sore fingers). I didn’t have to delete the account either. Just restarted Thunderbird!

  2. Awesome! I was really annoyed by this bug and you just made my life so much easier. Thanks for blogging! 🙂


  3. Apparently the Team thought they fixed this so well that they changed the “Advanced” setting. Now there is no way to get TB to fetch all the folders and it is still broken, worse…TB 3.1.10
    And why is it so hard to change the server type between imap or pop?…Delete account; remake account; crap, it tried to automagically configure it wrong again; hurry, stop it; ok, change the setting; jump up and and pick a bale a cotton; eat my …. doughnut. Palease.

  4. Thanks from me too. Something changed in the latest ubuntu updates, and I struggled for ages to find how to get my folders back. (Included re-install, etc.) Now all works well.

  5. Thanks for this tip. I had played with the “show only subscribed” but it didn’t seem to help, but I finally used the Advanced tab to manually check the “subscribe” box for each sub-folder and now all my Exchange sub-folders are fully visible in TB.

  6. Looks like they managed to break this solution – it doesn’t work in 17.0.8 (for me anyway). I guess you really do get what you pay for.

  7. OMG – please can you share this fix on the Mozilla forum. So many people are having this problem – and the fix is simple (when you know how!) Thank you so very much for posting this solution

  8. Thanks! It works for showing the mail folder, but it also shows every single other files and directories, starting from .acrobat alphabetically.


    The steps described above didn’t work for me.. but I found a (really) stupid workaround.

    Right click on the folder which does not sync subfolders and create a subfolder that does not exist on the remote server (“test” for example).

    I did this and all the other subfolders appeared automagically.

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