I have installed Ubuntu 12.04 and Thunderbird 12.0.1 from scratch but I hear no sound when new mail arrives.

I have installed pulseaudio-esound-compat and esound-common but the problem persist.

How can I fix this, and get new mail notification sounds in Thunderbird?

Bug reported here: https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/thunderbird/+bug/1009108

  • +1 I have this same problem, new since a fresh install of 12.04. Strangely, the little 'pop' sound when changing volume is back after disappearing in 11.10. Can't have everything I guess... Jun 2, 2012 at 14:39
  • Although others confirm this problem, it does not seem to exist always: I can't reproduce this problem. A fresh 12.04 with thunderird and I can hear the sound. I did not change anything with thunderbird, but I use the old .thunderbird directory. I use GNOME shell instead of Unity, but can't believe this matters.
    – lumbric
    Jun 3, 2012 at 10:25
  • In addition to continuing to seek workarounds here, I recommend reporting this as a bug. Jun 6, 2012 at 18:17

9 Answers 9


I was having a similar issue in Ubuntu 12.04 with Thunderbird 12.0.1. At least in my case, the origin of the problem was two-fold:

  1. the option "Default system sound for new mail" works only if sound effects are enabled in Ubuntu. If you want Thunderbird to play the default system sound from the Ubuntu theme, but do not want to enable the sound effects, just provide this path /usr/share/sounds/ubuntu/stereo/message.ogg in the option "Use the following sound file".

  2. whenever you change the path to the sound file, it is crucial to restart Thunderbird, otherwise it plays no sound at all.

My suggestion is therefore to select the sound file manually and restart Thunderbird. If it still doesn't work, I think you should file a bug report in launchpad, see here how. This might be a possible duplicate of this very old bug.

Note that the "Choose sound" menu has an hard-coded filter for wav files. In order to select an ogg file you'll have to specify the location explicitly by clicking on the pencil icon and providing the sound file location.

enter image description here

  • Just tried #1 but Thunderbird will only let me choose a WAV file. Jun 6, 2012 at 15:51
  • 1
    Yeah, I know, yet another bug. Still you can provide the path to sound file explicitly. I have added a snapshot to show this.
    – aroque
    Jun 6, 2012 at 18:11

In my case the problem was not triggered by missing packages nor by missing Thunderbird configuration parameters nor by ogg or wav problems, the only thing I had to do to solve my issue was:

Ubuntu Menu (top right) --> System Settings --> Hardware: Sound --> Sound Effects --> Alert Volume --> Slide full to right (100%)

Then Thunderbird began to play wonderful notification sounds when new mails arrived. Hope this helps some of You, too.

enter image description here

  • i do not have any "sound" option in my xfce4 os. wtf?
    – phil294
    Oct 19, 2016 at 16:11

From Thunderbird v12, it uses libcanberra. And the canberra system only plays the sounds if sound effects are enabled: For default sound and for a custom sound.
IMHO this behavior is incorrect but this is what Mozilla have decided.

You can install libcanberra from the Software Center Install libcanberra-gstreamer, or by opening a Terminal window (Ctrl+Alt+T) and running these commands:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install libcanberra-gstreamer

As for the home folder question, it is a matter of white space. In my situation (plain up to date Ubuntu 12.04, Thunderbird 13.0.1), a notification wav sound does not work if either the path (like My Music), either the file name (like You’ve got mail.wav) contains a space. It does work otherwise (not only from the home folder). Before trying every esound, pulseaudio, libcanberra or whatever, make sure the path and file name contain no space.


I know this is tagged 12.04, but it it seems the most relevant question to post this on: I tried both the system settings and Thunderbird settings in this post, with Thunderbird 68.7 (custom install) on Ubuntu 18.04 and sound worked (when you hit the Play button in Edit/Preferences/General/When new messages arrive, for an ogg sound in /usr/share/sounds/ubuntu/stereo/) - but with extremely low level; even though Ubuntu settings (gnome-control-center) had Output volume on max:


This got fixed when I started pavucontrol, and realized Playback/System Sounds was very low, which I then increased:


Only then I realized, that "Alert volume" slider on first screenshot, is linked to the "System Sounds" on second screenshot.

But anyways, now the new message sound from Thunderbird is audible - though still lower than other system sounds, not sure why.

EDIT: in about:config of Thunderbird (Edit/Preferences/Advanced/Config Editor.../I accept the risk!) there are also media.default_volume and media.volume_scale, both by default on 1.0 - I set both of these to 3.0, but it seems to have no effect on the new mail sound ...


I had the same problem but got it sorted by doing this: install esound in synaptic then move your sound file you want Thunderbird to play in to your home folder (not in any folder just direct in to home folder) then start Thunderbird and go to preferences and browse for your sound file in your home folder. That worked for me.

Hope that was helpful for you

Cheers Patrick

  • It doesn't work. :-( Jun 2, 2012 at 14:22

Download and install Thunderbird 14 from here: Install Thunderbird 14

All notification sounds work. Not all add ons will be compatible but will be in time.


I solved by installing this package: libesd0.

sudo apt-get install libesd0

Okay, this issue had me puzzled for months and I'm on Fedora but my post could help someone not break everything for nothing hopefully.

I realized today that sound notifications in Thunderbird did not work anymore simply because I had disabled sound effects in Pulse... . I'd have never thought the two were related and I had turned it off because I wasn't exactly excited by the sound gallery it offered.

Now mail notification is back and that's very important for my work. Hope that helps someone out there.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .