Usage directions for Nostalgy

Please visit Nostalgy's homepage. It contains a copy of this page that might be better read in your browser! From there, you can also download the latest development version.

Nostalgy adds several keyboard shortcuts to improve your productivity with Thunderbird. A custom preference dialog for Nostalgy is available through the Tools menu.

Notes about shortcuts:

Folder commands

The following shortcuts are available from the main Thunderbird's window. As a remainder and a sign of Nostalgy's presence, these shortcuts are displayed in Thunderbird's status bar.

GOpen a specific folder
SMove the current message to a specific folder
BMove the current message to a specific folder and go there
CCopy the current message to a specific folder

These commands open an folder completion box (in place of the status bar) where you can select a folder by typing part of its name. A popup displays the possible completions. Regular expressions are accepted as well (and .. is a short-hand for .* meaning: any sequence of characters). You can choose the first suggested completion with RETURN, or select another one in the popup with the UP/DOWN keys and then RETURN. You can cancel the command with ESCAPE.

Before you type anything in the folder completion box, the popup displays the most recently selected folders. You can choose one of them with the UP/DOWN keys.

In the folder completion box, the TAB key activates a shell-like autocompletion mode (this feature must be enabled in Nostalgy's preference dialog; otherwise, TAB cycles through the possible completions). In this mode, the completed suggestions only mentions possible completions one level down in the folder hierarchy, and the TAB key itself automatically completes with the longest unambiguous fragment.

It is possible to restrict (see the preference dialog) the completion to the folders on the same server as the currently displayed folder.

The S,B,C commands can be applied to one or many messages.

The S and C commands also work in a standalone message window.

The G command also focuses the thread pane. If you were doing a QuickSearch (that is, if you had typed some text in the search box), the same search carried over to the new folder.

The B command preserves the selection. The moved messages will be selected again in the target folder.

Custom shortcuts

In the preference dialog, you can define any number of custom keyboard shortcuts. A custom shortcut triggers a G, S, C or B command to a specific folder.

3-pane navigation

Because of the G command, the folder pane becomes thus much less useful, and it can be hidden with the L shortcut. (Thunderbird already proposes a shortcut to show/hide the message pane: F8).

Nostalgy also allows you to scroll the message while the thread pane is focused with the Ctrl-Left/Right or Shift-Left/Right keys. Because of that, it is a good idea to leave the thread pane always focused. Nostalgy still provides shortcuts to easily focus one of the three panes.

LHide/show the folder pane
ESC-FFocus the folder pane
ESC-MFocus the message pane
ESC-ESCFocus the thread pane
ESC-ESC-ESCFocus the thread pane, clear quick search box, select the "All" view
Ctrl-Left/RightScroll the message from the thread pane


Nostalgy introduces a notion of rule. A rule associates a folder to a message by looking for a substring of the From, To/Cc, or Subject headers (or a combination of them). A rule can be restricted to match messages only under a given server/folder. When a rule selects a folder for a given message, Nostalgy informs you in the status line. You can then use the Shift-S/Shift-C/Shift-G/Shift-B shortcuts to move/copy/go directly to this folder. Nostalgy's rules can be edited from the preference dialog.

It is possible to match fields with a regexp instead of simply looking for a substring. This is done by enclosing the corresponding field with slashes. E.g. /^me@domain\.com$/ will match the field for an exact value (not a substring).

When no rule apply to a given message, Nostalgy proposes to re-use (with Shift-S/Shift-C/Shift-G/Shift-B) the same folder as for the last operation. If the folder lookup has been restricted to the current server (in the Nostalgy preference dialog), then the last operation folder is attached to the current server. Otherwise, it is global.

Exporting and importing rules

Nostalgy comes with a backup system for rules. In the Preferences dialog (tab "Rules"), there is a button "Send rules by email". It allows you to send an e-mail to any address (your own address by default). This special e-mail contains a copy of all your rules. When you read such an e-mail, Thunderbird will show you a button "Import Nostalgy rules" which lets you import all the rules found in the message.

This import/export feature can be used as a backup mechanism, or to exchange rules between various computer or Thunderbird profiles.

IMPORTANT: importing rules from an e-email will destroy your current rules. Use this feature with caution.

Looking for messages with same sender / subject

The key "`" (backquote) launches a QuickSearch for messages from the same sender as the currently selected message. If you press the same key again, messages with the same subject are searched. And if you press again, the QuickSearch is cancelled. In the Sent folder, the search is done on the first recipient (To: header) instead of the sender.


Starting from version 2.0, Thunderbird supports tags, along with traditional folders, as a way to organize your messages. Thunderbird's tagging feature replaces its former labeling feature, and allows users to define an unlimited number of tags, more than one of which can be attached to a single message.

Nostalgy helps you use tags in much the same way it helps you use folders: The completion box for the Go/Save/Copy commands has always listed your email folders, but for Thunderbird 2.0, it also lists your existing tags, prefixed with a semi-colon.

A "Go" command applied to a tag restricts the current folder view to show only the messages that have this tag (ESC-ESC-ESC restores the "All messages" view). A "Save" or a "Copy" command applied to a tag toggles the tag on or off for the selected messages (the first selected message is used to determine if the tag has to be added or removed). Note that Save and Copy have the same behavior when applied to tags.

It is possible to create new tags directly from the completion box. If you enter a string of the form :foobar or :foobar: (that is, a leading colon and an optional trailing colon), it will open the tag creation dialog with the tag name set to foobar (in order to confirm the creation of the tag and choose its color). If you confirm, the command is applied to the new tag.

You may also use tags rather than folders as targets for Nostalgy's rules.

In the Composer

Nostalgy adds some support for keyboard operations to the Composer window.

When typing in a header, it's possible to change easily the header to either "To:", "Cc:" or "Bcc:". To do so, you need to be at the beginning of the input box, and simply type "to ", "cc " or "bcc " (with the whitespace, without the quotes).

The ESC-ESC combination focuses the message body. The ESC-A combination opens the file attachment dialog.


The preference dialog for Nostalgy has several tabs. The first tab is the place where rules are defined. The second tab has several switches to control the way the completion box (where folder names are proposed) is populated (see below). The third pane allows you to configure Nostalgy's shortcuts (click on the key to change it), to disable some of them, or to manage custom shortcuts.

Here is a description of the completion options:

The Nostalgy extension has been written by Alain Frisch ( Comments and suggestions are welcome! You can join the Nostalgy mailing list. Donations can be sent to the Paypal account