I want to get back to my journey toward encryption.

When last we discussed it, I was in the process of moving my Gmail account to the Thunderbird client as the first step toward encrypting my email communication. The roadblock I encountered was the sheer number of messages in my Gmail account, which Thunderbird began downloading to my computer. Thunderbird doesn’t have the nifty tabs (Promotions, Social, etc.) that Gmail created and that I spent time training Gmail to use the way I want it to. So everything was getting dumped right into the inbox.


With help from my handy husband, James, we managed to clear out the bulk of the old stuff. Remember, I opened this email account in 2006 or so, and had never deleted a significant number of emails.

First, we went back to Gmail in my browser and did a search for email within 1 year of a given date. I think we started with 1/1/2006.

In the search bar, click the arrow to get a more advanced search box. Then you can change the drop down at the bottom to “date within 1 year of XX.”

Now I can archive all of these messages, get them out of my inbox, and Thunderbird won’t download them (alternately, you can spend time deleting them en masse, if you’d prefer).

This still resulted in tedium (I really had THAT MANY messages in my inbox), so James had the idea to search on “unsubscribe” instead of the date range. This did capture all of the mass marketing emails, or, at any rate, enough of them to make a difference. Sent to the trash!

You also can use this advanced search box to create a filter, if you don’t want to delete or archive all these messages, but you also don’t want them all in your Thunderbird inbox. A filter will also help keep new messages under control. I get more than 50 Promotions messages a day (yes, I’ve started using that “unsubscribe” link on some of them).

For example, you can search for all messages in the Promotions tab, and click “Create a Filter with this Search” (at the bottom right of the dialogue box).

You now have several options: Archive all the messages, forward them to another email address, delete them, label them. I chose to categorize them as Promotions. This created a folder, which Thunderbird can see and display, where all my Promotions emails are now being sent.

An interesting side effect of this filter is that I no longer see these emails in my Promotions tab when I go to Gmail in a browser. So far this is working out just fine. (They do show up in the new Promotions folder, way down the list on the sidebar, so I can find them in a browser if I want to.)

I chose to allow those messages that Gmail splits into the Social tab in my Thunderbird inbox. I don’t get an overwhelming number of those on a daily basis, and I’ve intentionally sent a few specific daily emails there because I don’t necessarily want them in my inbox, but I don’t want them lost in Promotions, either. We’ll see if I find this annoying after a while.

Now the flow of incoming messages to Thunderbird is something approaching reasonable, and I can go and look at all the sale flyer emails I get when I feel like looking.

This is a sidetrack on the way to securing my emails. Thunderbird is going to be the software that allows me to send secure messages, but I had to make it usable before I could set up security.

(And I have to adjust my habit to actually start using it as opposed to the browser, but that will come with time.)