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Status: New idea

I love the look & feel of Supernova and hope there's enough momentum to improve the UX further and make it the one-stop free Outlook alternative out there. Hopefully I can contribute with this idea.

The Nieslen Norman Group makes suggestions about the UX of context menus, which in my eyes also apply to the (right-click) context menu of Thunderbird's email list:

Limit the number of items within a contextual menu. (...) Keep the list length manageable by including fewer than 10–12 items, to avoid choice overload and ensure that all of the contextual options are visible, without having to scroll. 

Right now, the email context menu of Thunderbird (v115 "Supernova") has 23 items (first level only, see screenshot). On my laptop screen, the list isn't even visible entirely. As a user I find that overwhelming.

Therefore, I suggest to simplify and shorten the context menu by categorizing the items into 3 types of actions:

  1. Strongly content related actions. If you perform these actions as a user you are aware of the content of the email (for example reply, forward, print, save, etc). So you want to open the email in any case. Now you should find (and access) these actions on the reading area of the email (where they already are). This means, we don't need them in the context menu, and they should be dropped from there.

  2. Weakly content related actions. For those actions, in many cases you don't need to open the email. Examples are marking as junk / unread, deleting, moving, etc. Therefore, they should be in the context menu. But I would differentiate further into:
    1. More frequently used actions: Those should go on the top level, because they should be reachable with 1 more click. I assume this are things like marking as junk / unread, but maybe you have usage data on this.
    2. Less frequently used actions. My guess would be "Open email in new window" etc, but again maybe there's data. Those should be grouped into submenus where possible, such as "Open email in...", because that would save space, while 2 clicks would be acceptable for less frequently used actions.

And what about power users that want many actions easily accessible? That's a fair point, and I would argue that those would use the existing hotkeys anyway (like Ctrl+R to reply, or Enter to open in new tab, or K to ignore a thread) and do not depend on the (somewhat redundant) hotkeys from the context menu, so items could be removed.

Of course, it's always a trade-off. But if Thunderbird is supposed to gain more widespread popularity and appeal to average users, I'd opt for the suggested simplification. If there's interest, I'd also be happy to make a concrete suggestion on how to restructure it (without having usage data, though).

Thanks for considering and greetings from Munich, Germany.

Status changed to: New idea
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New member

Thanks so much for picking up this topic @Agentvirtuel and leaving an update. This looks like a great step forward to me, and I especially like the one-click Junk button. I'm looking forward to v126.

Thanks for all the effort you put into this!