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How to read emails offline on Linux

Do you want to read your emails offline on Linux? Not sure how to download emails to your PC? We can help! Follow along with this guide and learn how to read emails offline on Linux!

Note: for this guide to work, you will need an email account that supports IMAP connectivity. If your email service provider does not allow for IMAP, you will not be able to follow this guide.

Installing Thunderbird on Linux

There are a lot of email clients to choose from on Linux, and they all have pretty good offline mail support. However, in this guide, we’ll focus on Thunderbird. Why? Thunderbird is the easiest to use, it has been around for a very long time, and the offline mail system for it is simple.

Before we can go over how to use Thunderbird to read your email offline, we need to demonstrate how to install the app. The reason? Even though Thunderbird is very well known and widely used, not every Linux operating system has it set as the default mail client.

To start the installation of Thunderbird on your Linux PC, open up a terminal window by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T or Ctrl + Shift + T on the keyboard. Then, with the terminal window open, follow the command-line installation instructions outlined below that correspond with the Linux OS you use to set up Thunderbird.


On Ubuntu, Thunderbird may already be installed on the system. If you do not have Thunderbird set up on your computer, use the following apt install command below to get it working.

sudo apt install thunderbird


On Debian Linux, you’ll be able to easily install a relatively recent release of Thunderbird directly from the “main” software repository using the following apt-get install command below.

sudo apt-get install thunderbird

Arch Linux

On Arch Linux, the Thunderbird application is available to all users in the “Community” software repository. To install it on your Arch Linux PC, run the pacman -S command below.

sudo pacman -S thunderbird


Fedora Linux may have Thunderbird pre-installed, depending on the Fedora Spin you are using. If it is not, you’ll be able to get Thunderbird via the main software repos with the dnf install command below.

sudo dnf install thunderbird


OpenSUSE may have Thunderbird pre-installed already. However, if you need to get the app working, you’ll be able to do it very easily with the following zypper install command below.

sudo zypper install thunderbird


Thunderbird is available as a Flatpak, so if you’re running a Linux operating system that doesn’t have the app in its repo, this is a good solution. To start the installation, ensure that you have the Flatpak runtime installed and enabled on your Linux PC by following this guide.

After setting up the Flatpak runtime on your Linux PC, you’ll be able to get the Flatpak release of Thunderbird installed by entering the following two terminal commands.

flatpak remote-add --if-not-exists flathub https://flathub.org/repo/flathub.flatpakrepo
flatpak install flathub org.mozilla.Thunderbird

Snap package

There is a Snap package release of Mozilla Thunderbird. So, if you love Snap packages, you’re in luck! To start the installation process, you must have the Snapd runtime installed and enabled. To enable Snapd, please follow our setup guide on the subject.

After setting up the Snapd runtime on your Linux PC, you’ll be ready to install the latest Snap release of Thunderbird by entering the snap install command below.

sudo snap install --beta thunderbird

Logging into Thunderbird

Now that Thunderbird is installed, launch the app. Once the app is open, follow the setup wizard on the screen to log into your email account. You may need to refer to your email provider’s IMAP configuration to get Thunderbird working.

When you’ve logged into Thunderbird, allow it to fetch your email. Keep in mind that email fetching may take a bit of time, depending on how large your files are. Then, move on to the next section of the guide.

Using Thunderbird to read emails offline

To make your emails available offline in Thunderbird, follow the step-by-step instructions outlined below.

Step 1: Look to the sidebar (under “Get Messages”) and locate “Inbox.”

Step 2: Right-click on the “Inbox” folder with the mouse to open up the right-click menu. Then, look through the right-click menu for “Properties” and click on it to access the settings for the “Inbox” folder.

Step 3: In the “Properties” window, find the “Synchronization” tab and click on it with the mouse. Then, check the box next to “Select this folder for offline use” to allow any email in your inbox to be read offline.

Step 4: In the “Synchronization” tab, click on the “Download Now” button to download your emails.

Thunderbird supports downloading for every folder under “Get Messages.” To download other folders on your account, simply select one on the left-hand sidebar, and follow the 4 steps above.

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