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Home > Programming > Making URLs in Thunderbird open in Firefox

If you have downloaded the tarballs for the Linux versions of Thunderbird and Firefox you'll find that clicking on a URL link in Thunderbird doesn't do anything.

To make Firefox open the URLs do the following...

If you have root access...

The default URL handler path in Thunderbird as downloaded from mozilla.org/com is /usr/local/bin/urlhandler. Therefore if you make that a symlink to the Firefox binary all users will be able to open URLs correctly.

e.g. If the Firefox binary is /usr/bin/firefox...

% ln -s /usr/bin/firefox /usr/local/bin/urlhandler

Job done!

If you do not have root access...

If you do not have root access you will need to edit your prefs.js file. This is located in your Thunderbird profile directory.
  1. Close down Thunderbird.
  2. Open a shell / console.
  3. cd .thunderbird
  4. cd into your profile directory e.g. default, then into the unique directory in that e.g. rb7e7grm.slt
  5. Use your favourite text editor (vi/pico/etc) to open the prefs.js file.
  6. Check to see if the following line exists, and if not add it to the end of prefs.js

    user_pref("network.protocol-handler.app.http", "/path/to/firefox");

    Make sure that you replace /path/to/firefox with the actual location of your firefox binary.
  7. Save prefs.js and start Thunderbird. Hopefully your URLs will open Firefox now.
Tabs or windows?

If you want your URLs to open in a new tab rather than a new window...
  1. Become root and open /path/to/firefox in a text editor.
  2. Put the hash / pound sign in front of the appropriate line.
    OPEN_IN=new-window
    #OPEN_IN=new-tab