Open Bug 1482674 Opened Last year Updated 3 days ago

Thunderbird needs a persistent "new mail" indicator on Linux

Categories

(Thunderbird :: Mail Window Front End, enhancement)

x86_64
Linux
enhancement
Not set

Tracking

(Not tracked)

People

(Reporter: lisken, Unassigned)

Details

(Keywords: ux-userfeedback)

Attachments

(2 files)

User Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:52.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/52.0
Build ID: 20180621064021

Steps to reproduce:

I have been a user of the FireTray add-on that is no longer working in Thunderbird 60. (The author has seized supporting their add-ons.) I have tried to replicate its basic functionality in TB 60 (Linux, XFCE) but there does not seem to be an option for it. I strongly believe that Thunderbird needs a persistent indicator showing that new mail has arrived (not unread mail in the mailbox, but new mail of the kind that lets the corresponding folder name turn blue in the folder pane). If a TB process is running (minimised) and I leave my screen for a while, or if I have been fortunate enough to really focus on some work, I now have to maximise the window and check if any of those folders that receive new mail have turned blue (a couple of accounts, several candidate folders in each due to filtering). That is both cumbersome and distracting. I cannot believe that TB developers want to force us to do constantly unminimise the window and inspect the folder pane. So I think that options should be added to show an icon for new mail, not just pop up a transient notification or play a sound.


Actual results:

Since TB 60, when running minimised, there is no way of knowing if new mail is waiting after I’ve been away for a while (physically or mentally).


Expected results:

Some icon should change or appear as soon as new mail has arrived, and disappear once I’ve been to all the folders that have new mail.
Component: Untriaged → Mail Window Front End
Summary: Thunderbird 60 needs a "new mail" icon → Thunderbird 60 needs a "new mail" indicator on linux
See bug 471772?

Anyone is free to write an add-on. Why should Thunderbird core developers maintain even more code for the next years? :)

On a general note, this ticket proposes a specific solution without explaining what the problem is and why the current behavior doesn't cover your use case.
Flags: needinfo?(lisken)
The Ubuntu version of Thunderbird comes with an extension called, "Messaging Menu and Unity Launcher integration", which provides a visual indicator of new mail.

I don't see it anywhere on the ATN site.
I don’t know why a “needinfo” flag was set when the only actual question in the corresponding comment was a rhetorical one. My description shows that I am aware of an add-on that is no longer working. It is not clear if the new add-on architecture will allow this kind of add-on, and in any case, I don’t have the resources to write one soon. In any case, I tried to convey that such a function should become part of the application itself.

I also believe that I did describe the problem. I’m happy to paraphrase it again:

The problem is the lack of a persistent indicator that new mail has arrived. The notifications that can be set through TB 60’s options are all transient.

With the absence of a persistent indicator, the user has a lingering sense of uncertainty whether they’ve missed a transient notification. The process of dealing with that uncertainty is so tedious that the user experience becomes slightly annoying. Have a look at any current messaging service. You will have a hard time finding one that does not inform its users of new messages. Most of these use a changed icon and/or a number of messages. That should be enough evidence for a clear and problematic gap in what TB 60 offers.
Flags: needinfo?(lisken)
> It is not clear if the new add-on architecture will allow this kind of add-on

If the unity launcher still works, that should reduce uncertainty that others can make it work.
That’s just it – nobody has clearly said that it still works in TB 60. This add-on has been around for a long time (I didn’t know of it, but a web search yields several support questions). Given that TB 60 (even with legacy add-ons enabled) breaks a lot of existing add-ons, I highly doubt that it still works.

Anyway, this bug report is about trying to convince the developers that this should be incorporated into the main app. I have tried to give reasons why. Dwelling about this or that add-on (especially one that probably only works on Linux or even just on some particular desktop) feels like an unnecessary distraction.
Severity: normal → enhancement
I think this is a fundamental feature. After years of usage of thunderbird as main mail reader in Linux I'll be forced to migrate to other app if this feature will not be available again in a short time :(
This report seems to duplicate https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=208923 which was closed with resolution "want fix" about an hour ago. The discussion there is pretty interesting. However non-destructive ways of notification about incoming e-mails  and chat messages are quite important. So I hope that Thunderbird devs reconsider their position.
Thanks for the heads-up, dpolivaev. However I don’t think these two bugs are duplicates exactly. Both refer to functions that Firetray used to offer and that often go together. But my focus here is on the persistent indicator for new mail (usually but not necessarily implemented by changing a tray icon) and the other bug is about having a tray icon and making the task bar button disappear “to the tray” when the main window is minimized.

[P.S. I thought it might be helpful to mention that you are mixing up the words “want” and “won’t”, as I have seen you do this twice now – here and on support.mozilla.org.]
Why status of this report is "UNCONFIRMED"??
All users in this thread confirm it. And many users have same trouble, but don't write here. 
Many of them (including myself) will be forced to migrate to another application.
And I think that this feature has very high severity.
So this one is NOT about minimizing to tray, but about an indication whether new mail has arrived since last interaction with TB. This can be indicated with a number on the existing TB icon (as in the screenshot), but the icon may be too small (not everybody uses Unity). Or it can be made via an additional icon in the tray, as Outlook does.

Does TB on Windows have this, is this really Linux specific?
Status: UNCONFIRMED → NEW
Ever confirmed: true
Keywords: ux-userfeedback
OS: Unspecified → Linux
Hardware: Unspecified → All
Summary: Thunderbird 60 needs a "new mail" indicator on linux → Thunderbird 60 needs a "new mail" indicator on Linux
Yes, TB on Windows has it. 

However  I do not know if TB on Windows has indication about new chat messages and calender events which would be at least as important as new mail notifications. Unfortunately I use chat and calender only at work under Linux and therefore I do not upgrade to TB 60 there.
Windows has a icon but no counter. Mac has a new mail counter on the launchbar TB icon.
On linux (Plasma) I have installed Mailnag.

https://github.com/pulb/mailnag

Still no mail caounter but at least I have new mail notification Pop Up and Plasma notification integration.
Using Preferences > Advanced > General > Config Editor, I toggled "mail.biff.use_system_alert" to "false" in my TB 60.

I get notifications and can click an email in the notification which will go to TB with the selected email displayed. No mail counter appears on the TB icon though.

Still no update from 52.9.1 to 60.0 from Ubuntu to see if the Messaging Menu and Unity Launcher integration extension ships with it. I think that is because there are no Thunderbird specific security fixes.

https://askubuntu.com/questions/1066095/when-thunderbird-vulnerability-updates-will-be-available-for-version-52-9-1-in-u
Attached image notification.png
This is the notification I now see with "mail.biff.use_system_alert" set to "false".

It can be set to display for as long as the user wants in Preferences > General.
Select Customize for "Show an alert" and set "Show New Mail alert for:" to whatever value works for you. My setting was 120 seconds for testing.

I can click an email in the notification and Thunderbird will display that message.
Thanks for trying to be helpful. However, this is not what this bug is about. These notifications take up extra space and are more than an indicator that new mail has arrived. The same goes for the suggestion about mailnag, wich is an external program that would launch Thunderbird. In my scenario Thunderbird is present in the background all the time. By the way, if the desired indicator would be a tray icon then I do think it would also make sense to “minimise to it”, but that is a secondary thought.
Summary: Thunderbird 60 needs a "new mail" indicator on Linux → Thunderbird 60 needs a persistent "new mail" indicator on Linux
I just released the first version of Birdtray, systray email notification counter for Thunderbird. Only notification at this moment, no systray hidding. GPL v3, available at github: https://github.com/gyunaev/birdtray
Hi gyunaev.
I thank you for your work on this extension and it/you may end up saving us in a near future.

However, I don't think current situation (native new mail indicator on both Mac/Windows while Linux users have to use extensions) is good at all.
We need feature parity there. What's the point of Thunderbird as cross-platform project if we don't ?

So I'd very like to know the Thunderbird team's stance on this issue.
Are "new mail indicators" obsoletes and should be removed in a future version ?
Are they an essential feature of Thunderbird ? If they are, why is this bug report getting so few attention ?


Honestly, the current situation is a mess and need to be addressed.
Some users want "close in tray/persistent tray", other just want "new mail indicator".
Some users think "new mail indicator" comes with "persistent tray". (I was one of them.)
Some users have "new mail indicator" (Mac/Windows) but other don't (Linux).

The bug reports and comments can't be clear if the situation isn't.
Minimizing TB to the tray, to me, seems like an extremely limited set of functionality and I am scratching my head wondering what could possibly have changed in TB 60 to make FireTray not be able to work. I suspect it would work but it's simply checking to see if the version number of TB is supported. One has to wonder why this is so hard and why people here will waste hours of time arguing the point when the fix is probably a one line change...
(In reply to gyunaev from comment #17)
> I just released the first version of Birdtray, systray email notification
> counter for Thunderbird. Only notification at this moment, no systray
> hidding. GPL v3, available at github: https://github.com/gyunaev/birdtray

Hi gyunaev, thanks a lot for this excellent piece of code! Are you aware about any packaging for common distros?
And, btw, there's also a new firetray release which seems to work:

https://github.com/Ximi1970/FireTray/releases

I think the standard way to provide this would be to set the WM_URGENT hint on the window. The window manager would then adjust the minimised icon accordingly and consistently with other applications:
https://tronche.com/gui/x/icccm/sec-4.html#s-4.1.2.4
eg. i3wm.org would by default draw the window or containing workspace red.

The FireTray plugin does achieve this somehow, but it it should definitely be part of the standard TB exe. It is really essential and expected behaviour and plugins invariably get broken by some version change. It is probably only a few lines of extra code if it is already there on Windows and a negligible maintenance effort.

Further more Firefox already sets the urgent hint. eg. if you click on a URL in TB and Firefox is open in another workspace, it will then be highlighted with the urgent hint to show it has new content.

(In reply to Rob from comment #22)

The FireTray plugin does achieve this somehow, but it it should definitely be part of the standard TB exe. It is really essential and expected behaviour and plugins invariably get broken by some version change. It is probably only a few lines of extra code if it is already there on Windows and a negligible maintenance effort.

I support this comment. The FireTray plugin is also not compatible with a counter/badge to the Thunderbird Icon in the Dash-To-Dock in Ubuntu.
Thanks in advance for any work on this!

I concur too: Thunderbird needs natively to be able to show a persistent notification when there is new unread mail (that is not in a junk folder or a draft folder). This is needed cross-platform (and on Linux not just for Ubuntu). At least in the past extensions provided such functions. Most of those extensions no longer work and even the new ones, I find, do not work well.

(In reply to signupemail from comment #25)

I concur too: Thunderbird needs natively to be able to show a persistent notification when there is new unread mail (that is not in a junk folder or a draft folder). This is needed cross-platform (and on Linux not just for Ubuntu). At least in the past extensions provided such functions. Most of those extensions no longer work and even the new ones, I find, do not work well.

Has anybody tried setting Preferences > Display, click Customize, edit the new mail alert and setting the "Show New Mail Alert" to something like 1800 seconds? That's 30 minutes.

Maybe I just don't understand persistent in this instance.

For some time a new email indicator/counter is shown on the Thunderbird Icon in the Dash-to-Dock on my system (Thunderbird 60.9.0, Ubuntu 19.04). Not sure what made this appear again. It seems not to be always consistent, though.

I want to share that I use an add-on which works on my both Windows and Linux computers. It is available at https://github.com/Ximi1970/FireTray.

(In reply to dpolivaev from comment #28)

I want to share that I use an add-on which works on my both Windows and Linux computers. It is available at https://github.com/Ximi1970/FireTray.

And does it works with ThunderBird-68 ?

(In reply to WaltS48 [:walts48] from comment #26)

(In reply to signupemail from comment #25)

I concur too: Thunderbird needs natively to be able to show a persistent notification when there is new unread mail (that is not in a junk folder or a draft folder). This is needed cross-platform (and on Linux not just for Ubuntu). At least in the past extensions provided such functions. Most of those extensions no longer work and even the new ones, I find, do not work well.

Has anybody tried setting Preferences > Display, click Customize, edit the new mail alert and setting the "Show New Mail Alert" to something like 1800 seconds? That's 30 minutes.

Maybe I just don't understand persistent in this instance.

Yes, persistent means "forever until you click it or log out".
Afaik, this is achieved on Windows and Mac by having a new mail indicator. Why does Linux cannot have it too ?

(In reply to Eugene from comment #29)

(In reply to dpolivaev from comment #28)

I want to share that I use an add-on which works on my both Windows and Linux computers. It is available at https://github.com/Ximi1970/FireTray.

And does it works with ThunderBird-68 ?

Unfortunately not, see https://github.com/Ximi1970/FireTray/issues/45

See discussion in https://github.com/Ximi1970/FireTray/issues/47

(In reply to dpolivaev from comment #31)

(In reply to Eugene from comment #29)

(In reply to dpolivaev from comment #28)

I want to share that I use an add-on which works on my both Windows and Linux computers. It is available at https://github.com/Ximi1970/FireTray.

And does it works with ThunderBird-68 ?

(In reply to Yamashita Ren from comment #30)

(In reply to WaltS48 [:walts48] from comment #26)

(In reply to signupemail from comment #25)

I concur too: Thunderbird needs natively to be able to show a persistent notification when there is new unread mail (that is not in a junk folder or a draft folder). This is needed cross-platform (and on Linux not just for Ubuntu). At least in the past extensions provided such functions. Most of those extensions no longer work and even the new ones, I find, do not work well.

Has anybody tried setting Preferences > Display, click Customize, edit the new mail alert and setting the "Show New Mail Alert" to something like 1800 seconds? That's 30 minutes.

Maybe I just don't understand persistent in this instance.

Yes, persistent means "forever until you click it or log out".
Afaik, this is achieved on Windows and Mac by having a new mail indicator. Why does Linux cannot have it too ?

My Ubuntu 18.04.3 and Linux Mint 19.2 have a new mail indicators.

Do you have your Thunderbird setup to "Show an alert" in Preferences > General?

Do you have Notifications enabled on your Linux system?

For Ubuntu that would be in Show Applications > Settings > Notifications.

What you are talking about is not an indicator but a "Notification".
By design, a notification is not persistent.

So this persistent new mail indicator would update every time the new mail notification would be activated?

Would a user like me be able to disable it, and does this exist on Windows and Mac?

While Linux users wait for a persistent - and persistently visible - notification of new mail, might we at least be advised on how we can get another program to provide such a notification?

I have a way of detecting in shell the number of unread messages in my (combined) Thunderbird inbox. To wit:

grep -oE 'A2=.{0,1}' ''<path>/smart mailboxes/Inbox.msf' | tail -1 | cut -c 4

I have yet to find a way of extracting the number of new unread e-mails, which is what I would like. Anyone?

I have a Perl script I put together that connects to my IMAP server and checks for new messages. If found it extracts the Sender and the Subject and throws it a message like "From <sender> - <msg>" to another script I got off the Internet that uses Google Text to Speech to actually say message! Hardly persistent but very useful when you are couch potato'ing so you can decide whether or not it's worth getting off the couch to respond to the email. You're welcome to it - https://github.com/adefaria/clearscm/blob/master/bin/announceEmail.pl

As for persistent mail indication I could have sworn that I had that before. Perhaps it was from FireTray. Ah yes - https://addons.thunderbird.net/en-US/thunderbird/addon/firetray/: "display unread messages count in tray icon". You know for the life of me I cannot fathom why FireTray's functionality is not built into TB itself. Nor can I understand why this is so hard to do in an extension. On my Ubuntu desktop I had the new mail indicator with a count of how many new messages as well as libnotify's notification. Didn't need both. Couldn't figure out how to turn off libnorify either...

It is time for a bit of editing since Thunderbird 60 is near EOL, 68 is on the horizon, and this is request for an enhancement.

I still don't think this exists on Windows. I don't recall seeing it when I'm using Thunderbird on Windows 10.

Eckard is there a persistent notification with Thunderbird on a Mac?

Flags: needinfo?(de.berberich)
Hardware: All → x86_64
Summary: Thunderbird 60 needs a persistent "new mail" indicator on Linux → Thunderbird needs a persistent "new mail" indicator on Linux
Version: 60 → 68

@Andrew DeFaria

Thanks, but I am after code that yields the new message count only by querying local files, not by getting into the buisness of actually querying e-mail servers.

(In reply to WaltS48 [:walts48] from comment #39)

Eckard is there a persistent notification with Thunderbird on a Mac?

Yes, there is a persistent notification in the form of a little red badge on the app icon in the Dock. By default this badge displays the number of unread messages but one can choose to display the new messages count via Preferences > General > App Icon Options...
Once one opens a new message the red badge disappears.

Flags: needinfo?(de.berberich)

this is indeed seriously needed.

previously i relied on the new mail attention extension, which was working great (even with custom conditions using the filters), but it only works with thunderbird up to version 39. then i switched to seturgent, which is more basic (always sets the urgent flag), but it only works with thunderbird up to version 60.

now i’m trying to survive with the built-in notification, but either it doesn’t show up or i might be missing it (even though i set it up to persist for 600 seconds). this is hindering my work, as i’m not always thinking about checking thunderbird while i’m busy working, and urgent requests may arrive.

i think that thunderbird should at the very least allow to set the urgent flag on the window when new mail arrives (custom conditions would be even better). a persistent tray icon would be great also.

(In reply to Eckard Berberich from comment #41)

(In reply to WaltS48 [:walts48] from comment #39)

Eckard is there a persistent notification with Thunderbird on a Mac?

Yes, there is a persistent notification in the form of a little red badge on the app icon in the Dock. By default this badge displays the number of unread messages but one can choose to display the new messages count via Preferences > General > App Icon Options...

I don't have that preference in Linux builds of Thunderbird.

Once one opens a new message the red badge disappears.

I only see the little badge on the app icon on the dock for the Ubuntu supplied version of Thunderbird. on Ubuntu 18.04.3 LTS, and it isn't persistent. Read an email and poof it is gone.

The same supplied version on Linux Mint 19.2 doesn't have the badge in the icon.

You need to log in before you can comment on or make changes to this bug.