thunderbird in German?

Polytropon freebsd at
Fri Aug 2 03:34:41 UTC 2019

On Fri, 02 Aug 2019 01:22:42 +0200, hw wrote:
> Polytropon <freebsd at> writes:
> > On Wed, 31 Jul 2019 00:15:34 +0200, hw wrote:
> >> Hi,
> >> 
> >> is there a way to get the GUI of thunderbird in German?
> >
> > Yes. But it depends on the version you're using (and the same
> > problem applies to Firefox). The hints I'm providing are therefore
> > derived from ongoing trouble (language-wise) with Firefox, so
> > check which and what applies to Thunderbird. :-)
> >
> > I'm not sure _which_ language variable has the desired effect,
> > but you can try setting those (example taken from ~/.cshrc):
> >
> > 	setenv  LANGUAGE        de
> > 	setenv  LC_ALL          de_DE.UTF-8
> > 	setenv  LANG            de_DE.UTF-8
> > 	setenv  LC_ALL          de_DE.UTF-8
> > 	setenv  LC_MESSAGES     de_DE.UTF-8
> > 	setenv  LC_COLLATE      de_DE.UTF-8
> > 	setenv  LC_CTYPE        de_DE.UTF-8
> > 	setenv  LC_MONETARY     de_DE.UTF-8
> > 	setenv  LC_NUMERIC      de_DE.UTF-8
> > 	setenv  LANG            de_DE.UTF-8
> > 	setenv  MM_CHARSET      de_DE.UTF-8
> >
> > It could also be possible that one of those (taken from
> > ~/.login_conf) could be the one(s):
> >
> > 	me:\
> > 	        :charset=UTF-8:\
> > 	        :lang=de_DE.UTF-8:
> Thanks!  IIRC, I've set 'lang' (or 'LANG') and MM_CHARSET; I'll try the
> others, too.

If I remember correctly, $LANG has precedence over $LC_* if set.
However, I'm not sure every program conforms to this rule... and
I'm questioning Mozilla software following established rules and
consensus. ;-)

> > Additionally, check TB's configuration if you find a "built-in
> > means" to select the interface language (as it seems to be now
> > in FF).
> I already did and didn't find anything.

Hmmm... This is where I would have assumed the setting to be.

The ability to change the language should be built-in. If I
remember correctly, Thunderbird also has the ability to incorporate
external extensions, add-ins, add-ons, or however they call them.
Could it be possible that you need to install something from
that source before you can use a non-EN language?

Additionally, the -i18n package used by older Thunderbird
versions to enable their multi-language features do no longer
exist, which makes me believe that _now_ multi-language is
part of the program.

> > It is probably hidden somewhere in the preferences "pages" (no idea
> > why "modern" software tends to make things more complicated than it
> > should be).
> Don't get me started on these programs ...  Nowadays, users are not
> sufficiently competent to have preferences ...

Options, settings, preferences... make them look like a web page,
no "OK", "Cancel", "Apply" buttons; scramble all the settings,
and change their location with every update so users will have
something to play with... oh, and make sure all default settings
are unusable... ;-)


I installed it. I have the language settings as shown above, and
the interface is in English. I didn't find any language setting
in the preferences.

Go to the "hamburger menu" -> Preferences -> Advanced -> Config Editor.
Accept the risk. I checked for "language" and "locale", and nothing
seems to be related to interface language. Search for "intl", and
the setting intl.regional_prefs.use_os_locales == true, which would
know, we're more cleverer than you!

So let's try the old fashioned way.

Go to the "hamburger menu" -> Add-ons -> Add-ons -> Extensions.
In the search field, enter "deutsch language pack", install the
add-on. A window "activity manager" will open, which is empty.
Close Thunderbird and start it again. Surprise: Still in English,
except the date in the window's title bar.

Go to the "hamburger menu" -> Add-ons -> Add-ons -> Languages.
You'll see the "Deutsch (DE) Language Pack by Mozilla" is now
installed. However, there is no way to enable it (only "Disable"
and "Remove").

Setting "useragent.locale" to "de" (needs to be added in the
config editor) doesn't have any effect. And you cannot remove
that setting (no "Delete" option in the context menu, DEL key
doesn't do anything), so that's useless as well.

If you search for the add-on "locale switcher", there will be
results, but they are not compatible with current Thunderbird




I need to stop here. It makes me angry. I don't want to be angry,
especially not because of stupid software.




So if you find out how to change Thunderbird back to German,
please (!!!) write to this list for further documentation. It's
a shame that all information I found with web search is either
outdated or wrong (or both)...

> >> After installing and enabling a German language pack as an addon (not to
> >> be confused with a German dictionary (which is also installed for just
> >> in case)), the GUI still remains in English.
> >
> > Those add-ons don't seem to work anymore. Version mismatch
> > combined with improper or missing signing (same trouble as
> > in FF). It seems they aren't needed anymore.
> Then why doesn't it say so?

Because it's left to the users to find out how to do "nonstandard"
things like intending to change the interface language. Because
all the world only the English always! ;-)

> >> Is this a general problem
> >> with the language pack or something specific to FreeBSD?
> >
> > Not FreeBSD-specific. It's one of the typical problems of
> > "constant change" when dealing with Mozilla software... :-/
> Is there a usable alternative to Thunderbird for an IMAP client?

Yes, Sylpheed is a lightweight and still very convenient and
usable MUA. It supports IMAP (as well as SMTP and POP3, which
is so obvious that I don't need to mention it).

Magdeburg, Germany
Happy FreeBSD user since 4.0
Andra moi ennepe, Mousa, ...

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