When I type something in Thunderbird's search bar, the first item that pops up is a Bing search for that term. Is there a way to remove Bing? I don't really need Thunderbird to be able to search the web.

So just removing it and leaving nothing is acceptable, but replacing it with, say, Google (or anything that's not Bing) works as well. I perused all the settings dialogs and preferences and couldn't find anything of the sort.

11 Answers 11


Well, if you want to use Google instead, simply install this add-on: Google Search for Thunderbird

Note that this kb article also explain how you can use another search engine: https://support.mozillamessaging.com/en-US/kb/add-search-engine-open-search

I don't think that it is possible to disable it completely.

  • 3
    Thanks for your answer! I don't want to use Google, what I want is to not see Bing in there. From the kb article you sent, however, I was able to find /usr/lib/thunderbird/distribution/searchplugins/locale/en-US/bing.xml. This would have to be removed to get rid of Bing. I guess the second best option is to add Google and use it instead, so I'll accept your answer. Thanks!
    – roadmr
    Aug 9, 2012 at 21:09
  • use localhost with an unused port as proxy and there will be no search no more - also it should prevent tempering attacks that need HTTP while Thunderbird flaws with email handling. ERR_TOO_MUCH_HTML kind of things.
    – hakre
    Jan 14, 2015 at 16:12
  • As of Thunderbird 60.3.3 This add-on is not compatible any more.
    – Robert
    Dec 10, 2018 at 14:14

You can completely disable the Bing search suggestion in the search bar popup menu by adding this to your userChrome.css file:

{ display: none !important; }

The advantages of doing it this way include:

  • you don't have to modify the Thunderbird application itself by removing all the search plugins
  • you don't have to re-delete the search plugins every time Thunderbird is updated
  • it becomes part of your personal, portable profile
  • web search is still available to other users on the same machine
  • you can still do searches by right-clicking on selected text

EDIT: This does work in TB 24 but it only affects the "Global search bar" (e.g. Ctrl+K) not the context menu provided for selected text.

  • Unfortunately this doesn't seem to work in Thunderbird 24. The chrome directory didn't even exist in that version, and adding it with a userChrome.css file didn't work. Ubuntu 12.10.
    – dotancohen
    Nov 26, 2013 at 8:10

It's quite easy (at least it worked easily for me):

  1. In Thunderbird, go to Tools > Add-ons > Plugins;

  2. In the search window at the upper right of your screen ('Search all add-ons'), type 'Google';

  3. Look down the list for 'Search Google for Thunderbird';

  4. Click the 'Install' button;

  5. Restart Thunderbird.

Good luck and hope this helps.


I found that you can edit the bing.xml file in the searchplugins folder. Simply change the url. I use Startpage, so I modified the url:




Good luck.


The solution I'm currently using is the same add-on others have mentioned, "Google Search for Thunderbird" by Standard8. It can be located by searching the available extensions: Use "Tools -> Add-ons", and in the 'Get Add-ons' category, search for 'google search' to locate .

However, using the support article cameleon mentioned, you can do much the same thing manually. You'll need to go into your profile default folder, xxwhateverxx.default, and paste an appropriate xml configuration file into ~/.thunderbird.xxxxdefault/searchplugins. You may need to create the searchplugins directory if it doesn't exist. The article suggests this xml content:

<SearchPlugin xmlns="http://www.mozilla.org/2006/browser/search/">
<Description>Google Search</Description>
<Image width="16" height="16">https://google.com/favicon.ico</Image>
<Url type="application/x-suggestions+json" method="GET" template="http://suggestqueries.google.com/complete/search?output=firefox&hl={moz:locale}&q={searchTerms}"/>
<Url type="text/html" method="GET" template="http://www.google.com/search">
<Param name="q" value="{searchTerms}"/>
<Param name="ie" value="utf-8"/>
<Param name="oe" value="utf-8"/>
<Param name="aq" value="t"/>

The xml file that the Standard8 add-on/extension uses (/.thunderbird/ie6op3o3.default/extensions/[email protected]/searchplugins/google.xml) is:

<SearchPlugin xmlns="http://www.mozilla.org/2006/browser/search/">
<Description>Google Search</Description>
<Image width="16" height="16">data:image/png;base64,AAABAAEAEBAAAAEAGABoAwAAFgAAACgAAAAQAAAAIAAAAAEAGAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAADs9Pt8xetPtu9FsfFNtu%2BTzvb2%2B%2Fne4dFJeBw0egA%2FfAJAfAA8ewBBegAAAAD%2B%2FPtft98Mp%2BwWsfAVsvEbs%2FQeqvF8xO7%2F%2F%2F63yqkxdgM7gwE%2FggM%2BfQA%2BegBDeQDe7PIbotgQufcMufEPtfIPsvAbs%2FQvq%2Bfz%2Bf%2F%2B%2B%2FZKhR05hgBBhQI8hgBAgAI9ewD0%2B%2Fg3pswAtO8Cxf4Kw%2FsJvvYAqupKsNv%2B%2Fv7%2F%2FP5VkSU0iQA7jQA9hgBDgQU%2BfQH%2F%2Ff%2FQ6fM4sM4KsN8AteMCruIqqdbZ7PH8%2Fv%2Fg6Nc%2Fhg05kAA8jAM9iQI%2BhQA%2BgQDQu6b97uv%2F%2F%2F7V8Pqw3eiWz97q8%2Ff%2F%2F%2F%2F7%2FPptpkkqjQE4kwA7kAA5iwI8iAA8hQCOSSKdXjiyflbAkG7u2s%2F%2B%2F%2F39%2F%2F7r8utrqEYtjQE8lgA7kwA7kwA9jwA9igA9hACiWSekVRyeSgiYSBHx6N%2F%2B%2Fv7k7OFRmiYtlAA5lwI7lwI4lAA7kgI9jwE9iwI4iQCoVhWcTxCmb0K%2BooT8%2Fv%2F7%2F%2F%2FJ2r8fdwI1mwA3mQA3mgA8lAE8lAE4jwA9iwE%2BhwGfXifWvqz%2B%2Ff%2F58u%2Fev6Dt4tr%2B%2F%2F2ZuIUsggA7mgM6mAM3lgA5lgA6kQE%2FkwBChwHt4dv%2F%2F%2F728ei1bCi7VAC5XQ7kz7n%2F%2F%2F6bsZkgcB03lQA9lgM7kwA2iQktZToPK4r9%2F%2F%2F9%2F%2F%2FSqYK5UwDKZAS9WALIkFn%2B%2F%2F3%2F%2BP8oKccGGcIRJrERILYFEMwAAuEAAdX%2F%2Ff7%2F%2FP%2B%2BfDvGXQLIZgLEWgLOjlf7%2F%2F%2F%2F%2F%2F9QU90EAPQAAf8DAP0AAfMAAOUDAtr%2F%2F%2F%2F7%2B%2Fu2bCTIYwDPZgDBWQDSr4P%2F%2Fv%2F%2F%2FP5GRuABAPkAA%2FwBAfkDAPAAAesAAN%2F%2F%2B%2Fz%2F%2F%2F64g1C5VwDMYwK8Yg7y5tz8%2Fv%2FV1PYKDOcAAP0DAf4AAf0AAfYEAOwAAuAAAAD%2F%2FPvi28ymXyChTATRrIb8%2F%2F3v8fk6P8MAAdUCAvoAAP0CAP0AAfYAAO4AAACAAQAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACAAQAA</Image>
<Url type="application/x-suggestions+json" method="GET" template="http://suggestqueries.google.com/complete/search?output=firefox&amp;hl={moz:locale}&amp;q={searchTerms}"/>
<Url type="text/html" method="GET" template="http://www.google.com/search">
  <Param name="q" value="{searchTerms}"/>
  <Param name="ie" value="utf-8"/>
  <Param name="oe" value="utf-8"/>
  <Param name="aq" value="t"/>

Alternately, you can change or remove the bing.xml file in /usr/lib/thunderbird/distribution/searchplugins/locale/en-US .

On my current installation, I have an object notation file in my home directory which contains references to search engine (search.json). This file may need to be edited or deleted after other manual changes have been made. On my system, it was recreated by the application (after I moved the original to a safe place).

Another possibility (one I've not tested in a fresh thunderbird installation) is to access the about:config editor in thunderbird, and remove references to 'bing'.

To paraphrase the related knowledge-base article, access the editor via "Edit -> Preferences -> Advanced -> General -> Config Editor (button)" .

From there, you can click on the "value" field to change it.

about:config screen


I believe this is actually a usability problem. Thunderbird has TWO search boxes, the "Global Search" which is always visible (by default) and the "Quick Filter".

Quick filter is what you want to use for searching within a folder.

You can hide the Global Search by Right Clicking that menu toolbar, selecting customize, and dragging the search box into the "Customize Toolbar" dialog.


I find that when you use the Global Search Box when typing 3 or less characters (e.g., "dog") Thunderbird defaults to "Search Bing for:". However, when I type 4 or more characters (e.g., "manuscript") then Thunderbird defaults to "Messages mentioning:". Assuming this works for all, a practical solution is to just use 4 or more characters and then hit the 'enter' key.


I just went to Thunderbird, Preferences, Advanced tab and unchecked "Enable Global Search and Indexer".

Restart Thunderbird.

If the search box does not automatically show up then, right click on an empty space in the tool bar and enable "Quickfilter".


It looks like the Web search from Thunderbird is removed as of Thunderbird 38, per bug 923656.


I managed to change the default search engine from Bing to DuckDuckGo in Thunderbird 52.4.0 with an extremely convoluted workaround. I didn't like any of Thunderbird's presets, so I chose DuckDuckGo because although I never really want to search from Thunderbird, if I do accidentally search, I'd rather use a search engine that promises not to track me.

For this, you will need an instance of Firefox with the DuckDuckGo search engine (I used Firefox 58.0.1). I will use [TB profile] to refer to your Thunderbird user profile directory, [FF profile] to refer to your Firefox user profile directory, and [FF app] to refer to your Firefox application folder.

First, we want to locate the ddg.xml file we will use for the Thunderbird search option. If you installed this plugin yourself, you may find it in the [FF profile]/searchplugins/ directory. Otherwise, you can find it inside of the [FF app]/browser/omni.ja archive. To find it, unzip the omni.ja archive to a temporary location unzip omni.ja (using the Info-ZIP utility; 7-Zip and other tools don't support the ZIP method Firefox uses). Then, in that temporary location, find the ddg.xml file (find -iname ddg.xml), perhaps at ./chrome/en-US/locale/browser/searchplugins/ddg.xml, depending on your locale. Once you have located ddg.xml, copy it to your [TB profile]/searchplugins/ directory.

Then, we want to use Firefox's search settings, but modify them slightly. Both Firefox and Thunderbird now compress their settings for performance, but this makes extracting and editing these settings much more difficult. To open a Mozilla compressed settings file, you can use the following code in your Browser Console (Ctrl+Shift+J for me):

var { classes: Cc, interfaces: Ci, utils: Cu} = Components;

function decompressFile(oFilePath, nFilePath) {
    return Task.spawn(function*() {
        var jsonString = yield OS.File.read(oFilePath, {
            compression: "lz4"
        yield OS.File.writeAtomic(nFilePath, jsonString);
// Set up file chooser
var fp = Cc["@mozilla.org/filepicker;1"].createInstance(Ci.nsIFilePicker);
var fu = Cu.import("resource://gre/modules/FileUtils.jsm").FileUtils
fp.init(window, "Open File", Ci.nsIFilePicker.modeOpen);
fp.appendFilter("Bookmarks/Session (.jsonlz4)", "*.jsonlz4");
fp.appendFilter("Search Engines (.mozlz4)", "*.mozlz4");
fp.appendFilter("Add-ons Files (.lz4)", "*.lz4");
// Call file chooser
fp.open((aResult) => {
    if (aResult == Ci.nsIFilePicker.returnOK) {
        if (fp.file.exists() && fp.file.isFile() && fp.file.isReadable()) {
            var oldfile = fp.file.path;
            var newfile = oldfile + ".json"; // Construct output file name
            try {
                decompressFile(oldfile, newfile);
                console.log("Saved as: \"" + newfile + "\"");
                if (confirm("Open JSON file in a Firefox tab?")) {
                    var uri = "file:///" + newfile.replace(/\\/g, "/");
                    window.open(uri, "_blank");
            } catch (err) {

With the above code, you want to open the [FF profile]/search.json.mozlz4 file and it will generate the file search.json.mozlz4.json. Edit this JSON file, and assuming you have pretty-printed the contents, you want to edit the line for DuckDuckGo's _loadPath variable, which will look something like the following:


You want to change this variable to point to the location within your Thunderbird profile where you copied the plugin file (and in this case, leave [profile] as [profile]; Thunderbird will interpret that as your [TB profile] folder):


At this point, ensure you have exited your Thunderbird instance and copy this file to [TB profile]/search.json. Remove your existing [TB profile]/search.json.mozlz4 file, and then start Thunderbird again. Thunderbird should compress your file for you and now show DuckDuckGo as a selectable option in your Options > General > Default Search Engine setting.

In summary, take following steps:

  1. Copy Firefox's ddg.xml file to your Thunderbird profile
  2. Decompress and edit your search.json.mozlz4 settings file from Firefox to target the search plugin in Thunderbird, and use these new settings in your Thunderbird profile

Not certain if this helps or not, but a hint might be found under the settings for Thunderbird Preferences > Advanced > General > Advanced Configuration > Enable Global Search and Indexer. Perhaps you have chosen Bing as your default search provider in browser?

Another thing to do is to open the config editor at the same location and type in "search" in the about:config dialog. Look for the keyword.URL string to see what is set there. It may be set to Bing as the search provider.

You may also wish to see if any add-on was added into Thunderbird that has altered the standard behaviour.

  • Thanks for your reply, it doesn't help: Global search and indexing is for something else: " If you enable Global Search/Indexing information about every message in every account (except News) is stored in an SQLite database.". Also, on Firefox, I use Google as my search engine. Trust me, I would never purposefully choose Bing for anything; I despise Microsoft product :)
    – roadmr
    Aug 9, 2012 at 16:54
  • Global search and indexing is for Thunderbird's internal sqlite database.
    – dotancohen
    Nov 26, 2013 at 8:11

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