I have a laptop running Ubuntu 20.04 with Thunderbird 68.10.0. It connects to my gmail.com account and also a linux IMAP mailserver with my university. For the university IMAP account there are two sent folders, one called "Sent" and the other called "Sent Messages" No matter what I do I cannot seem to reduce this to a single "Sent" folder.

I have tried:

  • right click on "Sent Messages" to delete it. Sometimes delete is not an option when I right click. Sometimes it is an option and I delete the folder, but it is always back when I restart Thunderbird

  • deleting the copy of the folder in my .thunderbird/[profile]/ImapMail and deleting the copy on the linux IMAP mailserver. When I restart Thunderbird, it is recreated

  • unsubscribing the folder. When I restart Thunderbird, it is back and I am subscribed again

  • in Edit->Account Settings->Copies and Folders for the gmail account I do not have "place copy in" checked. For the University IMAP account I have "place copy in" set to '"Sent" Folder on IMAP account'

  • removing "Sent Messages" from the "subscriptions" file in the Maildir folder on the university linux IMAP mailserver

  • all of the above with "Sent" and "Sent Messages" reversed.

My older computer running Ubuntu 19.10 and Thunderbird 60.9.0 connects to the same accounts and has the same problem. My wife's Ubuntu computer with Thunderbird and only one email account set up has the same issue.

  • Ubuntu 19.10 is EOL (end-of-life) (fridge.ubuntu.com/2020/07/17/…) thus off-topic on this site (askubuntu.com/help/on-topic) unless your question is specific to help moving to a supported release of Ubuntu. Use a LTS or long-term-support release if you don't like release-upgrading every 6-9 months.
    – guiverc
    Jul 20, 2020 at 22:32
  • One of the systems I am having the problem on is Ubuntu 20.04. I included the OS and Thunderbird versions of both machines I am having a problem for completeness. Jul 21, 2020 at 1:37
  • Yes I realize that, but as people read your question they may get to the very prominent off-topic/EOL release and stop reading.. You may get better responses if that additional detail was added as additional detail (ie. it was also experienced with 19.10) rather than making it the key OS as it's currently written. My advice as the question is currently written is to release-upgrade your 19.10 box, as it's unsupported & off-topic
    – guiverc
    Jul 21, 2020 at 1:44

2 Answers 2


Your university IMAP may by default seems to use the name "Sent Messages" to store send mail. The IMAP server may be set not to allow to delete it.

In Thunderbird, you can define what folder to use for sent mail ("Preferences - Account settings", in the "Account settings" dialog, locate your account in the left pane and select "Copies and Folders"). You recognize the folder used by Thunderbird by the special icon of that folder.

  • If you never use the web mail of your university, you could use "Sent", the default Thunderbird folder, for sent mail. You may not be allowed to delete the "Send messages" folder, because it is special to your University account. In order not to see it, unsubscribe from it in Thunderbird (Right-click an account in the left pane and select "Unsubscribe"). After this, the folder continues to exist on the server, but you do not see it in Thunderbird.
  • If you also want to use the web mail, then it depends on the extend by which you can customize the sent mail folder on the server. If you can't, then have Thunderbird use the same folder as your web mail system of your university. The other folder with the name "Sent" (the default name of Thunderbird) will revert to be a normal custom folder, and you should be able to delete it. Otherwise, you may be able to change the server side to also use the "Sent" folder.
  • If I unsubscribe from this folder, It is resubscribed when I restart Thunderbird Jul 21, 2020 at 19:05
  • I also tried switching everything over to "Sent Messages". I I subscribed to "Sent Messages" and unsubscribed from "Sent". I changed the "Copies and Folders" setting to "Sent Messages"; then I closed Thunderbird and deleted the "Sent" folder both locally on my machine and on my account on the server. When I restarted Thunderbird it created "Sent" again and subscribed me to it. Jul 21, 2020 at 19:32
  • ...and uses it as Sent folder, even if you indicated differently in the settings?
    – vanadium
    Jul 22, 2020 at 13:57
  • My settings in Copies and Folders do, as intended, determine which folder sent messages are put into, It can be either "Sent" or "Sent Messages". My issue is trying to get rid of the redundant folder. I realize that this is not a serious issue. I have lived with it for years with no hit to my productivity. But I do like to understand what is causing these funny behaviours of software. And I certainly would prefer the problem solved. Jul 22, 2020 at 20:03
  • So you are saying Thunderbird recreates an ordinary "Sent" folder (with default icon) even if you have set Thunderbird to use "Sent Messages" as sent folder?
    – vanadium
    Jul 23, 2020 at 7:50

in Edit->Account Settings->Copies and Folders for the gmail account I do not have "place copy in" checked. For the University IMAP account I have "place copy in" set to '"Sent" Folder on IMAP account'

For what it's worth, unchecking "Place Copy In" did solve the issue for me.

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