IMAP Trash folder

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By default Thunderbird (and the Mozilla Suite) assume that your Trash folder is called "Trash" and not some other name, such as "Deleted Items". This can sometimes be a problem with IMAP accounts, if your IMAP server uses a different name for the dedicated Trash folder. In such cases, Thunderbird will likely create its own Trash folder (named "Trash"), while your mail server will still be using the other folder (e.g., "Deleted Items"), and you may see both at the same time in the Thunderbird folders pane.

To specify a different Trash folder for an IMAP account in Thunderbird:

1. Completely exit Thunderbird if it is running.

2. Make a temporary backup copy of your profile folder (or at least "prefs.js").

3. Open your "prefs.js" file with a text editor such as Notepad to find the server# used to represent your IMAP account. It could be "server2", "server5", "server7", or some other number depending on your own individual account setup. Look for a line similar to this, corresponding to your own IMAP acccount:

user_pref("mail.server.server2.hostname", "");

4. Insert a line like the following into "prefs.js", with the correct server# and correct name for the Trash folder:

 user_pref("mail.server.server#.trash_folder_name", "<correct Trash name>");

For example:

 user_pref("mail.server.server2.trash_folder_name", "Deleted Items");

If you want to use "Gelöscht" (German for Trash) you would have to write it in the user_pref as "Gel&APY-scht", since the German Umlaute has to be encoded differently.

5. Restart Thunderbird. You should now see the new Trash folder (e.g., "Deleted Items") showing the trash can icon. (If not, exit and restart Thunderbird.) If the old Trash folder is still showing, you should now be able to delete it. If you can't delete it through Thunderbird, then delete it through the account's webmail interface.

6. If you deleted the Trash folder in the web front end of your mail provider, you may need to cancel the IMAP folder subscriptions, too. It may take a while for the subscription changes to take effect.


Thunderbird typically relies upon the "Allow server to override these name spaces" setting to specify the IMAP server directory in Tools -> Account Settings -> Server Settings -> Advanced. If these instructions don't work and that field is empty try setting it to "mail". If that doesn't help exit Thunderbird, delete the "Trash." and "Trash.msf" files for that account, delete the panacea.dat file (Mail folder cache) in the root of the profile, and then see if it uses the new trash folder. [1] [2]

Creating a escaped version of a non-ASCII folder name

If the name of your Trash folder has any non-ASCII characters you need to create a escaped version of the name [3]. One way to determine the escaped version is to use a Python-Interpreter:

$ python -c 'print repr("Gelöschte Objekte")' # (German version of Exchange) 'Gel\xf6schte Objekte'

$ python -c 'print repr("Gelöscht")' # 'Gel\xf6scht'

See also