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Set up Thunderbird

Thunderbird is an alternative email client which may be used with Exchange Online as an alternative to Microsoft Outlook. This information on setting it up is provided on a "best efforts" basis.


Functionality and support limitations

Third-party email clients typically only support IMAP and so are unable to use all the additional integrated features of Exchange Online such as calendaring, address books and management of rules.

As an alternative/addition to email clients, the Outlook Web app offers the widest implementation of Microsoft's mailbox functionality.

The UIS Service Desk focuses on supporting UIS-provided services. While we will endeavour to assist with alternative choices, this is offered on a 'best efforts' basis

Admin approval request

During the set-up process, you may see a message asking you to submit a request to the administrator to allow you to use the Exchange ActiveSync plugin. This is normal when attempting to configure a third-party plugin for use with the University's Microsoft tenancy.

We recommend using Thunderbird with the TbSync and Exchange ActiveSync plugins with Exchange Online.

  1. Thunderbird is free to download from the Thunderbird website. Follow the prompts to install it on your personal machine and open the program.

  2. When setting up your existing email address, Thunderbird isn't able to auto-detect the server location from your addresses, so you need to choose the option to manually configure your email address and enter the server as

    Set the Server Address

  3. Thunderbird should detect the correct settings for the outlook server and download your existing messages.

    Server Settings

  4. To use the Exchange Online calendar you need to install the plugins:
    1. Select Add-ons from Thunderbird's Tools menu.
    2. Search for TbSync – Thunderbird should offer the most up-to-date compatible version.
    3. Click the Add to Thunderbird button and follow the prompts to install it; you'll need to give it access to read your data.
    4. Repeat to locate and install Exchange Active Sync; both of the plugins are needed to synchronise with Exchange Online.

      Add-ons for Thunderbird
  5. Restart Thunderbird to make the plugins active.

  6. Select Synchronization Settings (TbSync) from the Tools menu.

  7. Choose Add New Account and Exchange ActiveSync from the Account Actions menu.

    Account actions add new account

  8. Select Office 365 as the account type and enter your name (as it appears in your Microsoft EES account) and email address.
    TBSync Account information

  9. Make sure "Enable and Synchronize this account" is checked and select the calendar items you want to include (for instance, a team calendar and task list as well as your own personal calendar).


  10. You can choose whether you want to synchronise your calendar at regular intervals or only when you click the Synchronize Now button.

  11. If you have existing folders set up in Outlook Online you will need to subscribe to these individually to make them visible in Thunderbird.
    1. Select File > Subscribe
    2. Check the boxes beside the folders you want to read in Thunderbird
    3. Click the Subscribe button
    4. Click OK
    5. The subscribed folders will be downloaded and will appear separate from the main inbox folder

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