Thursday, June 12, 2008

Thunderbird + GMail IMAP == "Almost great"

Yes, it's almost great.


Most of the time it's brilliant: labels appear as folders, starring things in TB stars them in GM too, creating a folder in TB creates a label in GM etc.

The problem is that sometimes authentication fails. I'm not sure where the problem is, but it's most likely a server-side problem (i.e. GMail).

Now, I'm certainly not going to complain that the free GMail service has the occasional outage with its IMAP server. As I say, most of the time it is fine. The problem is how Thunderbird deals with it.

It pops up a window prompting me for my password, with my password already pre-populated. So I hit enter, and it appears again. And again. So I decide to hit escape to get out of it, and it pops up again, and again.

While this is going on TB is of course completely unusable for other purposes.

Anyway, after a short while of banging away at escape it finally gives up and goes away for a while.

Then it tries to check my email again and decides that it has forgotten about my password, so I have to type it in again. And more often than not IMAP is still down so I get the box back again, leading to more escape pounding.


It's not ideal, so what would be better? Well, I'm no HID expert, but for me TB should account for the possibility that your password is actually fine, it's just the remote server that is playing up a bit. Perhaps it would be better to do this non-modally for a start so the user can continue to do things like use lightening, or other mail accounts. A non-modal alert could tell the user that it is unable to access the account, and provide an option to enter alternative credentials.

Without any further input from the user, TB should continue to try with the credentials it already has stored in the background, without interrupting anything else.


Kurai said...

hello, i have exactly ce the same problem for months now, did you find any way around it?

Pickscrape said...

Alas, no, but then I haven't done anything to raise it as a problem either. I suppose the right thing to do would be to raise a bug with Mozilla and see what they say.

I might do that this evening.

Paul S. Chun said...


The trick is to set Gmail to check for new emails no less than every 10 minutes. I've had the same problem on OS X, Ubuntu and Windows XP and this solved them all.


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