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I have several accounts set up in Thunderbird. If I reply to a message, I would like Thunderbird to always use the same e-mail address as the one the original mail was addressed to. However, it doesn't seem to work that way. If I move an e-mail from a folder of account A to a folder of account B, and I then hit Reply, it will default to account B, even though the mail was originally addressed to account A.

Any way to make "whoever is addressed" always supersede the folder-based account selection?

I've seen various topics around the same issue, but none of this fits my requirement of wanting to respond from a different account's folder with the original e-mail address...

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3 Answers 3

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If you reply to an email the "original" email address will only be used by Thunderbird if there is an identity that matches that email address for that account. If such an identity is not available the default identity for that account is taken, if you hit Reply.

What you need to do is add extra identities to each of the accounts for the alternate email addresses.

However if you move a mail to [email protected] to the account for [email protected] and in the settings for that latter account add an identity with at "Your Name" specified with your name, and "Email Address" set to [email protected], then Thunderbird will put [email protected] as the return address if you press Reply (even if this is not the default).

You can add additional identities to an account by right clicking the account in Thunderbird's left pane, then clicking Settings, then on the Account Settings form that pops up click Manage Identities... (just above Ok in the lower right corner.
Click Add, and fill out the first two fields as described, and check that the appropriate SMTP server is selected (if you sent as [email protected] you might want to use the smtp server associated with that account and not the one associated with the account you add this extra identity to).

You need to do this on each account for all your email addresses (assuming you don't want to worry about where you move which mail) that you want to have their incoming email address as reply to address.

If you have 4 email accounts set up in Thunderbird, this requires you to add the3 "other" addresses as extra identities to each of the accounts, and for each select the appropriate SMTP server.

The above will result in no difference for the recipient (in headers, route etc) of a reply whether you first move an email from one account to another, or directly reply from the account where you received the email.

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  • Thanks but this is not the case. I do have the right identities configured in Thunderbird. And if I am in the right folder, then it works. It's just that when I move an e-mail that Thunderbird prioritizes the folder's account over selecting an identity based on the TO field of the original e-mail. Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 4:30
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    @pleasedeleteme I can repeatedly make this happen (reply goes to To field) and un-happen (reply goes to default identity for account), by adding and then removing the extra identitie (using Thunderbird 38.6.0). The backend IMAP server is GoogleMail for one account dovecot for the other (though I don't think that should influence things), the rest of the setting in Thunderbird default. I have a few add-ons, of which only Enigmail might have some influence.
    – Anthon
    Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 5:09
  • Ah yes, I see what you're saying. The inconvenience is that I will then end up with multiple of the same accounts. After all, Account 2 already exists as a separate account, and in order for me to get the right sender when I move an e-mail to a folder of Account 1, I have to create an identity of Account 1 that is identical to Account 2. It works, and that is great. But I'll be duplicating my accounts and it gets messy. If there is a cleaner solution, I'm all game. If not then I'll use this. Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 5:53
  • @pleasedeleteme No that is not the case, please click in the existing account 2 setup page the button "Manage identities", that is not the same as creating an another account that accesses the same IMAP server twice. You can even do this with one account, if you forward everything to the same (IMAP) server and get different return addresses.
    – Anthon
    Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 5:56
  • I furthermore reviewed this solution but it turns out that if I use identities, then the server of the original account will send a lot of headers in the e-mail. So technically I don't really send it as the second account... I am sending it from the second account but via the first account. This is not great - I really like to be able to send from the original sender without any alias or other account setting involved. Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 5:58
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There is now a buildin function in thunderbird for this: right click on mailbox, settings, at "Reply from this identity when delivery headers match" insert for example *@domain.com

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  • Thanks, expanding on your answer: this is an invaluable option when you are using catchall addresses. Normally, Thunderbird only matches the full email address used in the account setup when determining the reply address. Setting the "Reply from this identity when delivery headers match" to *@domain.com will allow Thunderbird to use said account for replying whenever a mail was sent to *@domain.com, overriding the normal match procedure.
    – Edward
    Commented Aug 15, 2021 at 7:14
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    This worked for me, but only after also setting mailnews.reply_to_self_check_all_ident = false in the advanced preferences (Edit -> Preferences -> General -> Config Editor...).
    – Thomas G.
    Commented Oct 11, 2021 at 11:29
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There are several plugins that can help dealing with this problem. I've used Virtual Identity, which allowed me to automatically choose an identity based on the recipients address.

Search for "identity" on addons.mozilla.org to find others.

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  • Thanks but all these plugins seem to be for when you compose a new e-mail. My issue is when I am replying to a received e-mail. It should look at the original recipient in Thunderbird and then select that same identity when hitting reply, rather than base it on the folder I'm in. Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 4:29
  • From their homepage: "[…] Therefore the Virtual Identity extension contains a feature called Smart-Reply, which creates an identity based on information found in an received email without user interaction. Additionally Virtual Identity is able to save used Virtual Identities and reuse them for every new mail to the same recipient." - When replying to a mail, it usually selects the correct identity for me. If the mail was to multiple recipients, it pops up a dialog to ask which address was mine. When composing, it chooses based on recipient address. May need configuration.
    – johnLate
    Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 6:54

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