Configuring Thunderbird’s Addressbook Search

Thunderbird is a highly configurable email client. Configurable software is very effective with people who want to customize the software for their specific demands. I had one such experience recently.

A friend wanted to search more fields using the Thunderbird’s addressbook search. By default, it looks only at the email address and the names of a contact. Whereas he wanted it to search in the Organization and screen name fields. Since he did not find a GUI preference that let him do this, he asked me if Thunderbird was configurable enough to get this done. So here we go.

Go to Edit-Preferences-Advanced-General Tab-Config Editor to open it. The path might be Tools-Options-Advanced… if you are on Windows. Once it opens, type quicksearch in the filter text box, which will return the preference mail.addr_book.quicksearchquery.format. If you look at the value, it uses a specific syntax to look at the PrimaryEmail, DisplayName, FirstName, LastName fields. To include Organization in the search fields, insert (Company,c,@V) immediately after (LastName,c,@V). The value is now:


That’s it, now when you use the search in the address book, it will look for your string in the Organization field as well. How did I know the field corresponding to Organization was called Company? Type attr in the filter text box, and you will find the various attributes. Similarly add one for _AimScreenName and the search will now look through it as well.

Discussion [Participate or Link]

  1. Frank said:

    Fantastic tip – many thanks! Saved me a moan, that did 🙂

  2. Matteo Melandri said:

    thx for the tip.
    Do you know if it’s possible to modify Thunderbird’s Addressbook Search to do a query in multiple adressbook ?

  3. Bo said:

    Great tip! Been searching for this for ages – thanks!

  4. Katharine said:

    Outstanding! Thank you very much–I’ve needed this.

  5. Pete said:

    Any Idea what file to edit using TB3.1.6 on a Mac?

  6. Jeremy said:

    Great have been playing with a simple database that can be searched.

    However I am trying to use for the Notes section where I am looking to do a free text search, I have added in the format you mention (notes,c,@V), but does not seem to work, please email the exact string I neeed as I am sure it is an error input end


  7. John said:

    Thanks for the tip. However, I could not get Organization to work. I did not find an attrmap for Organization. I did, however, get Notes to work and am happy as my contacts are a recent import from Outlook. Using TBird 3.1.10.

  8. Piotr Dobrogost said:

    Great tip!
    Thank You very much for sharing this.

  9. Bociek said:

    Thank you very much for the tip.
    Its very helpful.

    Jeremy please read carefully post and you will find an answeR. 🙂

  10. suluses said:

    perfect !

    also (Notes,c,@V) works checked

  11. Rob Wilson said:

    I used the (Notes,c,@V) as mentioned by others. In order to make it work for me I had to simply restart thunderbird. After restart, it worked like a charm!

    Good luck!

  12. Hercules said:

    Tip did not work. My language used is Afrikaans. The attr gave the English names. I checked and everything is as you stated, except that teh quick search still does not work on the addres book QuickSearch field.

    Any tip what to do? Please, I need it very much.

  13. Abhijit Nadgouda said:

    Hercules, I will try to see if I can dig up something.

  14. Abhijit Nadgouda said:

    Rob, I am glad you found more. These options for configurations make it fun to use these softwares.

  15. alde said:

    Thank you so much!!
    I’ve been looking for this for years!!
    Thunderbird is a great client, but it’s users are even greater!!!!

  16. Chico said:

    Wow! Excellent! Perfect! Fantastic!
    Why is this not an option in Thunderbird. It would seem easy enough to implement via the UI.
    Also, Perhaps an option to include the Notes field.
    I sync with Google Contacts and I find myself searching my contacts all the time in Google Contacts instead because it searches all fields – including notes.

  17. Eda Hlava said:

    Great, thanx! It works.

  18. Daniel said:

    Thank you for this great tweak. I have been looking for it for long time!
    Is there anyone who knows how to search in all address books simultaneously? This is at least as important for me.

  19. Kai said:

    Hi, thx for the above hints. They proved AMAZINGLY helpful.
    Now, I can search for almost everything.
    HOWEVER, how would you attempt to search for two different criteria? For example you want to search for a company and then for a certain name in that company? Any ideas are welcome.

  20. Rick said:

    That’s great. Is there any way to configure its handling of diacritical marks. I’m in Québec, and we have a lot of people called “Helene” “Hélène” “René” etc. Be good to just enter “Helen” and have all the variations offered. Right now it is very literal about that (“Hel” skips “Hél” etc. Is that perhaps buried ub meanings of these other paramters “c,@V” ?

  21. How to configure Thunderbird’s Addressbook Search « Marius van Witzenburg said:

    […] Source: http://ifacethoughts.net/2010/08/09/configuring-thunderbirds-addressbook-search/ […]

  22. Daniel said:

    Work fine (in French Thunderbird too).
    Thank you !!!

  23. Alexander said:

    awesome! Should be default!

  24. Maren Smyth said:

    The search bar in my TBird address book is GONE… I can’t find anything in my address book with out it? Where did it go? How do I get it back???

  25. SNH CMS said:

    Adding the Company and Custom1-Custom4 fields was a time saver. Thanks.

  26. Enlaces 2014 #09 | Dev attitude said:

    […] Configuring Thunderbird’s Addressbook Search: Como configurar Thunderbir para que las búsquedas mientras se escribe el destinatario se hagan también sobre otros campos. Desgraciadamente solo busca por el comienzo de la cadena, que era lo que trababa de encontrar cuando encontré este tip. […]

  27. Shmuel said:

    Is there a list if field names and attributes that you can add?

  28. Stephan said:

    Very helpful – thanks for this! Do you know if there is a similar tweak for the search field in the contact-sidebar (F9 in the compose window)?

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Abhijit Nadgouda
iface Consulting
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