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I would like to disable the sound that comes up with error notifications in Thunderbird. In general I would like to be able to customize such sounds.

Note this is different from the sound for New Mail or chat notifications, whose settings are accessible from the standard preferences instead.

How can I do this? I am using Ubuntu 14.04 LTS and Thunderbird 45.2.0.

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This sound is configured in your System Settings (by default). You can read https://help.ubuntu.com/stable/ubuntu-help/sound-alert.html for how to mute such sounds within Ubuntu.

Within Thunderbird preferences you have no option to disable or customize the sounds for such alerts.

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I couldn't see how Tbird sound settings were part of system settings as the previous answer suggests.
However, you can disable Tbird sound settings on Ubuntu 16.04 as follows:
Preferences > Advanced > Config editor, you promise to be careful, then set the option media.ogg.enabled to "false". This will stop Tbird playing the ogg media in /usr/share/sounds/ubuntu/stereo
G.R.

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