How to Mail Merge with Mozilla Thunderbird

If you use Mozilla Thunderbird I’m sure you’ll appreciate that it is an outstanding email client with the additional bonus that it is free and a strong competitor to Microsoft Outlook.  This makes it a great alternative for personal use or in a business setting where budget is tight.

Despite being a great tool the support offered for Thunderbird isn’t as readily available as Outlook and therefore it can be difficult in utilizing some of the applications less intuitive features, for example sending email messages to multiple recipients by way of Mail Merge rather than sending individual messages or a single message to multiple recipients.

An example of where we may wish to use this (If you know what you want to use it for, skip this paragraph) may be a cycling club.  We have a table with all of our members details and would like to send a personalised message to each member advising them that their annual membership fee will be due in a few months time.  Using this guide we’ll walk through how we do this with Mozilla Thunderbird.

I’ve also created a video guide on how to perform this task on YouTube, shown below.

We’ll start by making some assumptions that I’ve listed below.

  1. You have Mozilla Thunderbird installed and the email account you wish to send the messages from configured as the primary account.
  2. You have a spreadsheet containing the data that you wish to use for your mail merge. This should contain any data you want to include in your merge, Eg. First Name and also the email address of each recipient.

From this point forward I’ll split the guide into three sections that we’ll complete in sequence. If you wish to refer to the video the sections are covered the same and timestamps have been added for reference.

Install the Mail Merge Addon to Mozilla Thunderbird (03:33)

As part of the standard application, Thunderbird provides no functionality to send emails via merge. There is however an addon available that provides this functionality. Let’s install this addon now;

  1. Launch Thunderbird.
  2. From the Thunderbird Menu select Addons.
  3. Scroll down to Featured Addons and select Mail Merge.
    If you don’t see Mail Merge this way, search using the search box.
  4. Press the Install button.
  5. Once installed, close and relaunch Thunderbird.
  6. Addon has been installed.

Create a dataset for use with Email Message (04:56)

At this stage we’re going to create a dataset to use for our merge. This can be done in any spreadsheet application such as Excel or Calc (LibreOffice).

mergerecipients

I’ve shown above an example of how this may look, let’s walk though how we do this.  You may wish to copy and paste or source data another way.

  1. Create a spreadsheet with columns for each data you may wish to use in the merge, if you have extra data that won’t be in the email this isn’t a problem.
  2. Ensure each column has a heading as shown in my example, don’t use spaces in the column headings. Remember what the column headings are, these are important when we come to write the message.
  3. Populate data into the sheet.  In my example above you can see my merge would send an email to two recipients.
  4. Save the file, not as Excel but as a CSV (Comma Separated Values). This can be done by changing the file type when saving – demonstrated with Excel in the video.
  5. Dataset is ready for the merge.

Prepare and send email message using addon and dataset (08:00)

With the first two steps complete, we will now draft an email message in Thunderbird and have it send to the recipients defined in our dataset.

  1. Within Thunderbird select the Write option and compose an email like you’d do as normal, or open a draft if you have one prepared.
  2. Within the “To:” field enter the column heading from the dataset that contained the recipients email addresses between two sets of curly brackets, for example {{EmailAddress}} is what I’d do for my example shown above.
  3. Enter a subject for the message, if you have a column that contained data you wish to add to the subject this can be done by adding the column heading between curly brackets as shown above, an example in my video is car registration.
  4. Compose your email message as normal, where you would like to display a field of data from your dataset simply add the column name between curly brackets – example may be starting the email “Hi {{FirstName}}“.  These can be used multiple times in the email message if required.
  5. With the message ready, instead of pressing the Send button we go to the File menu and select Mail Merge.
  6. At this step we’ll prepare and select our sending options, including the selection of the data set file that contains our recipient data.  Select the values below as appropriate;
    Source: This should be CSV.
    Deliver Mode: You can select either Send Now, Send Later and pick a time for the messages to send or Save As Draft.  It may be wise to do Safe As Draft as a test run and check the messages are displaying in your drafts as you expect.
    Format: HTML unless you have a requirement to send in Plain Text.
    Attachments: You can attach a file if you wish, a restriction of doing this via Outlook.
    File: Browse and select your CSV file.  No other options below CSV need to be selected, the defaults are good.
  7. With the sending options prepared we can proceed and press OK. If you selected “Send Now” as your Deliver Mode the email messages will send.  If you select “Save As Draft” you can navigate to your Drafts folder and will see the email messages.

At time of writing my YouTube video has had almost 12,000 views and I’ve received a number of great feedback comments from viewers. Thank you for taking the time to view this!

7 thoughts on “How to Mail Merge with Mozilla Thunderbird”

  1. Hi Chris
    Thank you for explaining how to mail merge with an email using Thunderbird. I have some blanks (first names) in my data spreadsheet. Would this be the reason I’m getting an error msge? How do I fix this?
    Thank you.

    1. Difficult to know Ruth without knowing the error message but it’s a good assumption if first name is one of the fields in the message body. I’d recommend testing with your own email address and a missing first name to see if the message sends, if not populate a false first name and retry – that will confirm it.

      If you find the missing first name is the problem you could consider trying with a blank space for the first name where they are missing or inserting a title such as Mr, Mrs, Miss, Etc.

  2. Great video , let me ask some questions :

    1) I have one domain and i want to send emails.
    2) I created 5 emails using above one domain.
    3) My question is that using one domain how many emails i can send daily ? is there any limit ?
    4) is there any addon to track emails on thundr ( like open , click )

    Thanks
    Adnan

    1. Hi Adnan, I don’t think I can give you much information here but will respond.

      1. OK.
      2. OK.
      3. This depends on the mail server, not Thunderbird.
      4. I don’t know, not familiar with Thundr.

  3. Hi Chris,
    My Mail Merge is working but with two fields never showing up in the sent emails. I don’t get any error messages, but a field with the date {{Date}} and a field with a number code {{ID}} never show up. Three other fields, {{Name}}, {{Intro}}, and {{Email}} work just fine. I’ve tried many different names for these broken fields, and locations for the fields in the emails, plus text versus numbers in the csv file, plus alignments in the csv file, and the same two fields never show up in the sent email.

    Are there some rules for fields/variables that I should be aware of?

    Thank you for any help you can give me.

    1. That is a strange one Julie, the merge field name is a perfect match for the column heading in the CSV? I’m not aware of any rules, I could understand a value like a date not displaying as intended (Date serial for example) but to not display at all is odd. If you open the CSV in a text editor, does the data display?

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