Thoroughly use and test a couple dozen email programs and you'll find few better than Thunderbird. Maybe one will have an editor you like better. Maybe another is geekier, in the sense that you can navigate everywhere without touching the mouse. There may well be an email client that allows you to easily send automated emails or to harvest email addresses from mail received. But Thunderbird does a lot well and comfortably. If you're a beginning or average or even an advanced email user and want to use just one email application for all normal email needs, Thunderbird's not a bad choice.
As much as Thunderbird has to offer in ease of use and functionality, it doesn't have the best interface for managing multiple address books or even managing just one address book with multiple email accounts. One significant feature Thunderbird lacks is the ability to completely remove one of several address books.
If you have an address book you no longer need and is just getting in the way, you'll find no button to click nor any menu item for deleting it. You'll have to resort to hand-editing files, files which, moreover, aren't really designed for humans to open up and make changes to. In fact, at the top of the file we'll be editing it says, "Do not edit this file." Actually we'll be following that warning because we'll be creating a new file and editing that one.
|Figure 1. Screen shot of the upper-left
corner of Thunderbird's
The first thing to do is to identify the address book to be removed. This is easy. Type Alt-n to open the "Compose" window as if you were writing a new message, click on the bar below "Address Book", and in the dropdown menu (shown in the graphic to the left) note the name of the address book to be removed. In this exercise we'll be removing the one called "dems".
The next thing to do is to shut down Thunderbird. This is necessary
because Thunderbird writes updates to various files while running,
including files we'll be editing. To avoid having our edits overwritten
by a running Thunderbird, click
File | Quit.
Now we need to find the appropriate files to edit, prefs.js
and one other one. These are generally put into a directory (or
"folder") under one called
.thunderbird under your home
directory. But this directory can have different names, and even
different locations, depending upon how you configured Thunderbird and
which operating system you're using. So go to a terminal window and
~/.thunderbird directory, specifically, it's
~/.thunderbird/cx7ws9zz.default; the actual name of this
second directory on your machine will almost certainly be different.
Note for MacIntosh and
users: The few commands used here—
grep— are basic
commands used in Linux and UNIX. If you're working on a Mac with OS X, you
already have versions of all these commands, so you need only to open up
a terminal window and type them in. Windows users can probably make due
with its search utility and the
commands. Users of either of these operating systems, and others even
more obscure, can obtain GNU versions of these commands (and many other
handy tools) free of cost in packages available at http://www.gnu.org/software/coreutils/coreutils.html,
The files listed there— displayed by the
$ ls 6400567.s compatibility.ini ImapMail panacea.dat abook-1.mab components.ini impab-1.mab persdict.dat abook-2.mab compreg.dat impab-2.mab pgprules.xml abook-3.mab cookies.txt impab.mab prefs.js abook-4.mab defaults.ini install.log prefs.js.bak abook-5.mab downloads.rdf key3.db secmod.db abook-6.mab.bak extensions localstore.rdf training.dat abook.mab extensions.cache lock US abook.mab.bak extensions.ini Mail virtualFolders.dat cert8.db extensions.rdf mailViews.dat xpti.dat chrome history.mab mimeTypes.rdf XUL.mfasl
Before altering prefs.js at all, we'll run
prefs.js for the name of the address book (dems), as
below, will show the several lines you'll need to delete:
$ grep dems prefs.js user_pref("ldap_2.servers.dems.description", "dems"); user_pref("ldap_2.servers.dems.dirType", 2); user_pref("ldap_2.servers.dems.filename", "abook-5.mab"); user_pref("ldap_2.servers.dems.isOffline", false); user_pref("ldap_2.servers.dems.protocolVersion", "2"); user_pref("ldap_2.servers.dems.replication.lastChangeNumber", 0);
Take note of the third line, the one specifying the
filename, here abook-5.mab. Whatever filename
is given in this line of your output will be dealt with shortly.
Note concerning Windows editors: This
prefs.js file is an example of what is known as a "flat
ASCII file," that is, a file containing at most only the 128 characters
used in the first days of the personal computer. An editor such as
Microsoft's Word silently and secretly and automatically inserts many
other kinds of characters into a file during editing. For our purposes
here this is not good, not good at all. So to avoid turning your file
into garbage, use a different editor, one which will not corrupt the
file with non-ASCII characters. Emacs is a great alternative, another
GNU product, and an editor which handles just about any kind of file you
might want to throw at it. It's open source, available for just about
every operating system on the planet, and free and available right now
Next fire up your best editor, delete the six lines
Now you can restart Thunderbird. Check to ensure that the address books are functioning as desired and that only the correct one has been deleted. If everything is working fine— and you can take your good time to ascertain this, even a week or two— you can safely remove the two bak files you created.
And you're done. Reflect a moment on the methods used here, like giving a file a different name instead of deleting it and creating a backup file before making any changes to a critical file. These precautions mean that if something goes wrong, it's possible to put the files back to how they were previously. Having a way certain to back out of changes made also means that you can be more adventurous with your system, and make changes just to see what they will do. This will enable you to play around more with your system, learn more about it, and make it work the way you want it to. Learn to do this and you've done more more than simply learn how to delete an address book. You're on the way to becoming a savvy hacker.