Mozilla Mail is the Mozilla suite's MailClient and NewsReader, originally born from Netscape. With the 2004 spinning off of the browser component into MozillaFirefox, a similar project called MozillaThunderbird was started, and this went gone 1.0 in November 2004. Much of the information for Mozilla Mail and Thunderbird is interchangable.

IMAP namespaces

The only times I have had any issues with MozillaMail is when trying to force its folder hierarchy to show subfolders of INBOX to be at the same level.

Note that this is arguably a bug in MozillaMail (not supporting the NAMESPACE extension to IMAP4 correctly), however in itself it is not a fatal bug. Some IMAP servers (recent versions of Cyrus for example) can do server-side namespace alteration.

Problems with Mail

Crashing when the compose button is clicked
Could be related to incorrect XUL. Try removing your .mozilla directory ( you did do this when you upgraded last, like the upgrade notes in Mozilla tell you to, right?) and reloading.
Refusing to talk to the IMAP server until MozillaMail is shutdown and restarted
I've seen the second problem you describe, when I am using an IMAP server off a dynamic IP: eg my server at home. If it changes IP, mozilla sometimes requires a restart. If you are using SSL, Mozilla always requires a restart. This isn't neccesarily a mozilla problem. It could perhaps handle it better, however dynamic IPs are not designed for running services off them. If you want a reliable mail server, get a static IP or host your mail on a machine with a static IP.

Disabling DNS caching

You can disable Mozilla's dns caching with the following prefs
user_pref("network.dnsCacheExpiration", 0); user_pref("network.dnsCacheEntries", 0);

Saving passwords

If Mozilla Mail refuses to ask if you want your password remembered, make sure you don't have the line

user_pref("signon.rememberSignons", false);

in your mozilla prefs.js file!

Annoying things about MozillaMail

  • It feels slow, even on a fast machine. This seems to be due to XUL, and can't be helped. Opening a new window isn't as instantaneous as you would expect on flash hardware. Moving another window around on top of moz mail results in noticable redraws. Rendering non-latin characters also seems to slow down moz quite a bit.
  • Need to be root to install EnigMail for GPG support. I managed to work around this my making my own moz tree and symlinking almost everything back to the original, but that's a clumsy workaround.
  • Can't highlight and select email addresses in the headers summary. Traditionally graphical apps on X let you select text into X's clipboard. I know you can right click, but that's not The UnixWay.
  • Integration in !SeaMonkey? means that if your browser hangs, all your mail windows do too. MozillaThunderbird and MozillaFirefox should prevent this.
  • If the headers are too wide for the message display window (eg a long name/email address, or attachment filename), mozilla resizes all the internal widgets, making the folder names list thinner. Not only is the jiggling annoying as it sizes and resizes multiple times, it makes it hard to move messages to folders if the folder list is only a few pixels wide.
  • If you start Compacting Folders and then minimise moz mail, it uniconifies itself when it finishes compacting.
  • As of 1.5, Ctrl-K now brings up a spell checker instead of deleting to the end of the line, as many unix hackers would expect (and how it used to!). Of course, the Help is out-of-date and doesn't mention this, nor how to set you own or disable the spell check.
!A simple shell script to start MozillaMail as a standalone
  1. /bin/sh

MOZILLA=/usr/X11R6/bin/mozilla $MOZILLA -remote "xfeDoCommand (openInbox)" || $MOZILLA -mail &

Thanks to MatthewLuckie.