How can I use Thunderbird portable from multiple user accounts?

Oaken June 6, 2010
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Previously I’ve asked about syncing TB portable and am happy to say as a result of help gained from the folk on this site – I’m all synced up now!

However, the final piece of the puzzle is how to make a second implementation usable across multiple user accounts, on one PC?

I’ve tried locating the folder in the shared documents folder, and also in program files, whilst having edited the security permissions so far as I understand them – to no avail. When I try to run the program via any of the additional users, all I get is TBs crash reporter…

Any help in resolving this will be greatly appreciated?

Thanks all,


  1. Flow
    June 25, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    Portable Thunderbird Multiple Users (Workaround)

    I'm not sure if this is exactly the solution you're looking for, but this is a workaround I use for Portable Thunderbird, in place of the Profile Manager.

    Let's use the user profiles Home and Mobile as examples.

    1. Create individual folders for both "Home" and "Mobile" within your "ThunderbirdPortable" directory.
    2. Copy "ThunderbirdPortable.exe" into each new directory you've just created.
    3. Locate "ThunderbirdPortable.ini" in "Other > Source" and copy into each new directory you've created.

    You should have 2 new directories "Home" and "Mobile" with a copy of "ThunderbirdPortable.exe" and "ThunderbirdPortable.ini" in each.

    4. Enter "Home" directory, double-click "ThunderbirdPortable.ini" to edit it. It should launch inside Notepad by default.
    5. Copy and paste over the original with the following code below:


    # The above options are explained in the included readme.txt
    # This INI file is an example only and is not used unless it is placed as described in the included readme.txt

    6. Save and close.
    7. Create a shortcut of "ThunderbirdPortable.exe", while still in the "Home" Directory.
    8. Rename the shortcut to "Home".
    9. Move the shortcut into the main "ThunderbirdPortable" directory.

    Repeat "Steps 4-9" for each new profile, replacing any instance of "Home" with "Mobile". Don't worry about creating folders "Home" and "Mobile" within "Data", it will automatically be created.

    Launch whichever account you need, by way of the shortcuts. Just replace "Home" with any name you need for each new account. I hope this helps!

  2. Romjck
    June 14, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    I'm not suggesting that email is somehow old-fashioned, just increasingly ruined - not its fault. I like the idea of a people-centric approach, because that builds on the idea of opt-in, which is the main strength of Facebook, Twitter, etc in this sphere.
    San Diego Boxes

  3. Guest
    June 14, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    I've managed a short term solution via the Thunderbird installer for now, and used Moz backup to port the profile to other users desktops and this works for now.

    The problem is there are 3 (pop) mail addresses which 3 of us need to manage, regarding a hobby angling group we administer. Therefore as it stands using the installed version as described, any mail which is moved outside of the main folders is unreachable via the remaining desktops.

    I realise we could either channel the relevant mail via Google and 'convert' it to IMAP, or run it via a thumb drive, though these are not preferred options.

    Exploring the Shared Folder option everything worked fine for users with full administrator permissions, though not one user whom does not have these. Having tested various adaptions I couldn't find a solution, and if anyone can provide one it would be much appreciated.

    So still a work in progress :-)

    • Aibek
      June 14, 2010 at 5:47 pm

      Thanks for the update!

      We will let you know in case one of us comes across an alternative solution for this.

      I will also suggest to Tina (the MakeUseOf Answers editor) to post this in the upcoming 'Toughest Questions' roundup.


    • Flow
      June 29, 2010 at 5:49 pm

      I've provided a solution below, with regards to using multiple user accounts with one Portable Thunderbird installation.

      The example set-up gives each user their own directory for their email. In order to access the same email account and the directory the email is stored in, you have to set each user account with the same email settings, pointing to the same directory.

      For example, both "Home" and "Mobile" user accounts should have, let's say, a "Twin" e-mail account, found in Tools > Account Settings. On the left panel, click "Server Settings" under the "Twin" account and point the "Local directory:" to the same directory in both user accounts.

      Is that clear or do I need to expand on it?

  4. Aibek
    June 14, 2010 at 5:45 am

    Hey Oaken,

    Did you figure it out? I think Jack's suggestion should do the trick for you. (p.s. I assume you know that you will have to create different user profiles on the Thunderbird as well. Unless of course you want everyone to use the same email account)

  5. Jack Cola
    June 7, 2010 at 1:55 am

    Hi Oaken, I hope this does help.

    1. Download Portable Thunderbird
    2. On your host computer, setup a shared network folder
    3. Place all of the Portable Thunderbird files in that network folder
    4. Open the network folder on your guest pc and run Thunderbird
    5. You should have access to your thunderbird emails

    I just tried it then and it worked using Thunderbird - it's been on my flashdrive for a while.

    I am going to write a post which allows you to access them on any computer without one being on - so stay tuned for that in the future.

  6. Oaken
    June 6, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    Thanks for that though as far as I can tell the information you've provided doesn't help me :-)

    I want to use one implementation of Thunderbird, on one PC, for a number of family users to access via their individual desktop accounts?

  7. Anonymous
    June 6, 2010 at 7:09 pm

    Configuration for the portable and installed versions of Windows Thunderbird are identical.

    For the installed version, double click on the shortcut to the program or the ThunderbirdPortable.exe for the portable version. The Account Wizard should pop up. Select the 'Email account' option and click Next. Enter your desired name and your IMSA email address and click Next. Click on the IMAP button and then for the Incoming Server enter '' and for the Outgoing Server enter '' and click Next. Set you desired incoming and outgoing user name as your IMSA user name and click Next. Finally, name this account click next and Finish. A box should pop up asking for your a password. Enter your IMSA password and hit OK (Use the Password Manager at your own expense).

    Next, go into Tools->Account Settings and click on "Outgoing Server (SMTP)". Click on the entry containing "" in the box on the right and click edit. Check the box marked "Use name and password" and enter you user name in the field provided. Also, mark the button saying "TLS , if available". Once the password is entered and you have configured your outgoing server, click on the 'Get Mail' button and Thunderbird will download all of the message headers. Be patient as this may take a while (a minute or so for my 2000+ emails.)

    Now your account is completely set up to check mail, receive new mail, and send mail. You can sort your mail by date or sender using the columns above you inbox. Thunderbird offers a robust and fast search feature along with various customization options. * Note - Thunderbird may take a few extra seconds to load up from the student server.

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