Some recent update has caused my Thunderbird (14.0 on Ubuntu 12.04) to revert to an English-language user interface. It used to be German before.

My system is completely in German. German language support is fully installed in System Settings. thunderbird-locale-de is installed as well. I even tried to remove and reinstall this package, without any visible change.

I also tried resetting general.useragent.locale to de-DE via Thunderbird's own configuration editor. No change as well.

How do I get my German interface back?


The solution was actually very simple: The update had disabled the German locale extension within Thunderbird. So thunderbird-locale-de was present, but not enabled.

If you run into a similar issue, be sure to check Tools > Addons > Languages and click "Enable" on your language extension if necessary. After a restart, everything works fine.


German only is simple, as above. A greater difficulty is how to avoid the standard US version in favour of the UK version [the US guys want to force everybody to use their version].

I have a similar problem: residing in China, but speaking UK English. The main problem is the repositories: if the standard Ubuntu repositories are used, then only the US version can be installed. This means all emails are composed with USA spelling, not the desired UK spellings. [One would think a simple change in the config file is required to point to the language pack. But no, I could not find anything anywhere to customise TB to default to UK language and spelling.] My "solution" was to hack the install.

Before proceeding, readers should install "Synaptic" and be familiar with its menus and functions.

1/ get the latest release for the language you want.

1a/ Go to the Mozilla web page and download the language you want [UK in my case] from https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/thunderbird/all/

1b/ unpack the bz2 file to anywhere you want on your hardrive, example: \home\Tbird. [this results in many files and subdirectories]

2/ add the Mozilla ppa to Synaptic and update.

2a/ http://ppa.launchpad.net/ubuntu-mozilla-security/ppa/ubuntu

2b/ click Synaptic menu button "mark upgrades", then click "apply". Ths installs the latest TB release with all dependencies. [this ensures you get all the libs you need]

2c/ note: this results in a US version. the UK version is per step 3.

2d/ ensure TB is working after the above steps. [I had no troubles]

3/ find the installed TB files and overwrite them.

3a/ Ubuntu 16.10 installs the TB files in \usr\lib\thunderbird. [Ensure this applies to you]

3b/ copy all files/directories from \home\Tbird to \usr\lib\thunderbird and replace all files/directories.

3c/ you should have now the TB version you want [UK in my case].

4/ in Synaptic, uncheck the Mozilla ppa you added in step 1.

Why this works? Because TB is a stand-alone application package. Also, this hack enables anyone to install the very latest release [the repositories are often 2 releases out of date]. Hope this helps someone.

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