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How to fix Thunderbird profile version error in Ubuntu

Are you an avid Thunderbird email user on Ubuntu? Have you ever tried to import a Thunderbird email profile from a backup to a new Ubuntu installation, only to find out that it won’t launch? As it turns out, this error occurs when the Thunderbird profile was created on a version of the app that is newer than the Thunderbird client that’s installed on Ubuntu. In this guide, we’ll go over how you can fix this Thunderbird profile error in Ubuntu so that you can access your emails.

Note: although this guide focuses on Ubuntu, it is also possible to fix this Thunderbird error with the instructions outlined below in all derivatives of Ubuntu, such as Linux Mint, Elementary OS, Zorin OS, and many others. Feel free to follow along if you are having this issue!

Option 1 – Updating Thunderbird to the latest release

The quickest way to solve the problem of Thunderbird producing this profile error is to simply update it to the absolute newest possible version so that the error no longer occurs. To update Thunderbird, start by opening up a terminal window by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T or Ctrl + Shift + T on the keyboard. Then, follow the step-by-step instructions below.

Step 1: Ubuntu Linux has a relatively recent release of Thunderbird, but it isn’t the newest around. Therefore, you must add in the Mozilla Security PPA to get fresh updates.

To add the Mozilla Security PPA to Ubuntu, use the following add-apt-repository command below in a terminal window.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntu-mozilla-security/ppa

Step 2: Once the new Mozilla Security PPA is added to your Ubuntu Linux PC, you will need to refresh the software sources on the system. To update the software sources, make use of the update command below in a terminal window.

sudo apt update

Step 3: Following the update, you should see Ubuntu’s package manager let you know that there are updates available for Thunderbird ready to install from the PPA. To install these updates, run the following upgrade command in the terminal.

sudo apt upgrade -y

When Thunderbird is up to date, launch it by searching for “Thunderbird” in your app menu. If the program opens up correctly, the error is resolved.

If you still face an error even after upgrading Thunderbird, your existing Thunderbird email profile cannot be saved. Unfortunately, you will need to follow Option 2 in the guide to create a new Thunderbird email profile on the system.

Option 2 – Create a new Thunderbird profile and re-login

Usually, upgrading the Thunderbird email client on Ubuntu to the latest release is enough to fix the profile error. Sadly, sometimes upgrading doesn’t work and the error persists. Thankfully, it is possible to delete this old Thunderbird profile and start fresh with a new one. Follow the step-by-step instructions below to learn how to create a new profile.

Step 1:  Much like Firefox, the Thunderbird email client has various command-based launch options that allow users to gain access to the more advanced functions, including the Thunderbird Profile Manager.

To access the Thunderbird Profile Manager, press Alt + F2 on the keyboard. By pressing this keyboard combination, you will see the quick-launch bar on the desktop. From there, enter the command below and press Enter on the keyboard to execute it.

thunderbird --ProfileManager

Step 2: Inside of the Thunderbird Profile Manager window, you will see your email profile, along with any other email profiles that may be on the system but are not in use. At this point, we must delete every single one of these profiles.

To delete the profiles from Thunderbird with the profile manager, select it with the mouse. Then, after selecting the profile, locate the “Delete” profile button, and click on it to delete it. Do this for each profile.

Step 3: Locate the “Create Profile” button and click on it with the mouse. After selecting the “Create Profile” button, the “Create Profile Wizard” window will appear. Read the message it displays and select the “Next” button to move to the next page.

Step 4: After selecting next, you will be asked to name your new Thunderbird profile. To name it, find the box under “Enter new profile name” and change the name from “Default User” to whatever you desire.

Step 5: Select the “Finish” button in the “Create Profile Wizard” to finalize the creation of the new profile.

Step 6: In the Thunderbird Profile Manager, click on your newly created profile. Then, check the box next to “Use the selected profile without asking at startup” to ensure that your new profile is the default.

Step 7: Click the “Start Thunderbird” button to start up your newly created profile. Once Thunderbird is launched, a tool will appear on the screen. Use it to log into your email account to download all of your emails, etc.

With Thunderbird logged in to your email account, you’ll no longer be experiencing the profile error on Ubuntu!

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