Thundbird Search

The Mozilla Foundation has changed the default search engine in Thunderbird version 11. They took a check from Microsoft and the default is now Bing. Even worse you can’t change it to use Google because there is no option for Google to be used as the search engine. The list of engines used is Bing (the default), Yahoo!, Amazon, AOL, eBay, Twitter, and Wikipedia. One can only surmise that Mozilla was paid to remove Google as a search engine.

There are a couple of methods for adding Google back to list of Search engines to be used. Unfortunately, none are for novices.

The first and easiest method is use the Config Editor built into Thunderbird. This is located under Tools … Options … Advanced … General.

If you are using Windows it should look like the screen shots below.

Once you have the Search Editor up, search for the word “search” ( no quotes obviously). The Preferences we are interested in are:

Add Google. should have no value so you can change this to “Google” and it will add Google as a search engine.

Change Google to default. If you want the default search to be Google, change to Google from Bing.

If you are like me and loathe both Bing and Microsoft then remove all Bing entries and replace them with Google.

The second method is to add a search provider profile for Google to your user profile for Thunderbird. This is from Roland Tanglao who is a Thunderbird Technical Support Lead.

  1. First, locate your Thunderbird profile folder. If you need help reference these instructions which can be found here:
    or here:
    Once you have found your profile directory you should create a sub-directory named “searchplugins” if it does not already exist.
  2. Then click on this link:
    and you will find the Google search plugin xml file. Save the content of this page as google.xml in the searchplugins directory identified in step 1. In Firefox, this can be done by right clicking anywhere in the page then ‘Save page as…’ google.xml
  3. Restart Thunderbird
  4. Perform a search. Search for something, then click the newly added Google icon on the side.
  5. To make Google your default search engine, click the little heart at the bottom. Now all your future searches will open up in Google.
  6. When you are done the search results page should look like this on the left side:

    Also the favorite icon on the bottom left of the search results page should be red for Google. Something like this:

    Much better now that the Google scrape engine Bing has been purged from your mail client. I have not figured out how to remove all the unwanted search engines just yet. Roland also added this to a different blog:

    Oh and here’s the reason aka “corporate stuff” as to why Google was removed in TB 11: QUOTE from Marketing
    The Thunderbird default list of search engines reflects the agreements and authorizations we have with their respective owners. We do not have such agreement or authorization from Google.
    This is a change that’s primarily driven by business agreements and we generally do not publicly discuss these details. We realize it can influence the community, but as it is, we believe that the default list of search providers will give great search results.