Showing results for 
Show  only  | Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
New member
Status: New idea

I try to organize the mail that I want to save in folders.  However, it can sometimes be challenging to remember which folder a specific message is saved in.  I can always do a search in the All Mail folder to find a message. But, once I have found it in the all mail folder there isn't a way of figuring out what folder it is really stored in.  The location column in All Mail will only report "All Mail" as the folder where the message is stored.  Please add a full list of folders where a message is stored to the location column.  Thanks

Status changed to: New idea
Community Manager
Community Manager

Thanks for submitting an idea to the Mozilla Connect community! Your idea is now open to votes (aka kudos) and comments.

Making moves

The 'All Mail' folder in gmail webmail account is used to store absolutely everything. Nothing is stored anywhere else. Gmail understand this is simply not useful, so they created 'labels' which act like a tag applied to emails in the 'All Mail' folder. The various 'labels' mean virtual copies can be shown in a visual way that looks more like typical folders. So, in webmail account you can see those 'labels' in 'All Mail'. This means there is only one copy of email, but it can be shown in any number of other 'labels' aka folders.

Thunderbird does not work like this.

Anything you synchronise to in gmail is download to it's own file in Thunderbird and displayed as a Folder in Folder Pane. It's just downloading the email and not any data or code which states what labels get applied - that is very specific to gmail. There is no such thing as 'labels' in Thunderbird. That means anything in 'All Mail', will be a separate copy from the same identical mail that may be in any folder eg: Inbox. So unlike gmail webmail - Thunderbird will have more than one copy. In fact you will have 100% duplicate of emails if you subscribe to see 'All Mail'.  Please be aware anything you delete from 'All Mail' will get deleted from any folder both in imap account and on server.

When you use Search there is already a location column header.

Edit > Find > Search Messages

Select the name of the account and select checkbox to search subfolders

Enter the parameters/conditions of search ans click on Search.

In section below make sure the Location column header is enabled.

The one thing you do not do is search on 'All Mail' if you are looking for an email in a completely different folder. As you are only searching in one folder you already know the location. 'All Mail' mbox file in Thunderbird does not know anything about any other mbox or index file.

If you search using the Global Search, that's the Search in top Unified Toolbar. Then you get a load of filters which you can disable/enable in the left pane to refine search such as remove any folder like 'All Mail' or 'Spam' or if looking for 'Thunderbird' question then disable folders like 'Online Orders'.You can choose to only view emails in a specific period etc.

Even if you do not need to do any extra filtering - When you click on the 'Show results as list' then you also have the option to see the 'Location' and the 'Account'.

But for very obvious reasons if you search specifically on one folder then the only location will be that folder. If you can easily find email in All Mail then unless you have Archived the email you can easily locate the email in another folder providing you use one of the methods above.




Making moves

I  composed this once and then discovered it deleted when asking to login again.

So sorry if this ends up as a repeat.

Gmail stores all emails - absolutely everything in only one location and that is called 'All Mail'.

Gmail understands that is not practical for users, so it created 'labels' which really is a tag applied to emails. The 'labels' facilitate a virtual display in a folder style to help users and whatever 'label tag' is applied to an email means multiple virtual copies can be displayed in whatever 'label' - aka folder you like. But there is still only one email and it will be in 'All Mail'.

Thunderbird has no knowledge of labels. It just synchronises with server and downloads a mirror copy of whatever it finds in the various 'folders' and puts them into separate files stored on computer and they display as separate full copies in separate folders. They are not virtual copies of whatever is in 'All Mail'.

The Thunderbird gmail 'All Mail' folder has no knowledge about what is in any other folder. As is the case with any separate file. That's why you use the various search options in Thunderbird.

Edit > Find > Search Messages

Search on the name of an account - not a specifc folder - if you have no idea where the email is located. OR Search on a specific top level folder and include subfolders, if you have a folder called 'Clients' and it contains the folders you are likely to have put the email. The results will display where the email is located providing you have enabled the 'Location' column header.

Or use 'Global Search' - that's the one in the top Unified Toolbar 'Ctrl + K' 

It will search every account and every folder that is included in Global Search for a specifc word or email address etc. The result can be further filtered by the options in the left pane or even by date range or click on the 'Show results as list' and then you can enable the 'Location' and 'Account' column headers to see where it lives - this view also means you apply a further filter using the Quick Filter if desired.

What you are looking for already exists and there are two completely different methods for locating emails (not including Quick Filter) but the one thing you are not going to find is to only search deliberately in one folder and expect to find results in other folders.

New member

Thanks @Toad-Hall 

Great explanation.  I hadn't seen the original post so I appreciate you posting a second time.  I wasn't aware of the global search function in Thunderbird.  That does indeed do what I need by allowing me to filter the search results by folder so I can find the specific folder associated with an email.  

Thanks again


New member

This goes right along with my suggestion of a folder column  (

The Location Column does not do a lot of good in "All Mail" since the emails are not really at that location. I am not sure what its intended purpose was.




New member

My thinking, when I originally posted this, was that when I can't find an email that I previously moved to a folder, I perform a search in "All Mail" because that search will find the message.  Including the folder in the search results allows me to find what folder the message is saved in, which also tells me where related messages are also saved.

Making moves

re :

The Location Column does not do a lot of good in "All Mail" since the emails are not really at that location.

Gmail uses the 'All Mail' folder to store everything. Any email displayed in any other folder can only do this because gmail applys a label which is like a tag applied to the email which is stored in 'All Mail'. Therefore in gmail webmail account - all emails displaying in any folder/label (except 'All Mail') are just virtual copies. That's why you can apply a label to any email and see it in any number of folders.

So all your emails are actually stored on the server in the 'All Mail' folder. I have no idea why you think the emails are not stored in 'All Mail'. 

Thunderbird has no knowledge of 'labels' so when it synchronises with server, it can only create a copy of whatever is in the server label eg: Inbox.

This means you will have copy of email in 'Inbox' and if you have subscribed to see 'All Mail' then you will also have copy of same email in 'All Mail'.  This basically means if you subscribe to see 'All Mail' you have used double the amount of disk space because everything is duplicated. There is no real reason to subscribe to see 'All Mail' and if something goes wrong with any deletion in 'All Mail' then you will lose emails from any other folder they are copied into.  Why because gmail stores everything in 'All Mail'.

So in Thunderbird if you search in the 'All Mail' folder then the 'Location' column will say 'All Mail'  because you are searching the 'All Mail' folder and yes those emails really do exist in that folder.