Restore Thunderbird’s missing folder pane

Here’s what to do if your Folder Pane disappears. The Folder Pane is the left one that shows the tree of mail folders: Inbox, Sent, Drafts, etc. If there is no space there (the other panes extend to the left side of the window) it is probably just not displayed, and you can drag its resize bar from the left, or display it with the View menu.

But if the Folder Pane just comes up as a blank space, it could be due to a previous crash of Thunderbird, or corruption of some auxiliary files that need to be rebuilt. Here’s how to fix it:

  • Exit Thunderbird
  • Find your profile folder.  In Windows, you can navigate directly to your profile folder at the following path:
       C:\Users\<user>\AppData\Roaming\Thunderbird\Profiles\<profile>\
  • In Linux, look for it here:
       ~/.thunderbird/<profile>/
  • or here:
       ~/.mozilla_thunderbird/<profile>/
  • The AppData folder might be hidden: to show hidden folders, open a Windows Explorer window and choose
    “Organize → Folder and Search Options → Folder Options → View (tab) → Show hidden files and folders”
  • You can (should) make a backup copy of your profile folder now, in case something goes wrong
  • In the profile folder, rename the session.json and foldertree.json
    files (to session.json.bad and foldertree.json.bad)
  • Restart Thunderbird

If something goes wrong, you can restore your old session.json and foldertree.json files, then go searching for a different solution.

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7 Responses to “Restore Thunderbird’s missing folder pane”

  1. David Says:

    This is a great life-saver 😉

    This solution saved my day as I’ve been trying to fix this issue and I couldn’t figure this one out.

    it worked perfectly

    Thank you very much

  2. Joniel Says:

    Thanks for the information , renaming those 2 files helped me on having the folders appear on Moziila Thunderbird

    Thank you

  3. Joe Currie Says:

    Renamed files, restarted Thunderbird and Voila! folder pane reappeared!
    Thank you.

  4. Andy Says:

    Thank you! This worked like a charm.

  5. H Lim Says:

    Thank you very much. Renaming the files worked !!!
    This save me a lot of time looking for a solution.

  6. Dave Says:

    A related problem for which I have yet to find a solution…
    (TB 38.6 on OSX)
    I can toggle my folder pane from displayed/not displayed
    I do a search accross m mulltiple accounts/folders and the search result appears in another tab/window.
    On viewing this window the Folder Pane disappears.
    Menu: View/Layout/FolderPane is greyed and Folderplane is unchecked.
    I open the search as an email list.
    Folder Pane does not appear.
    Menu: View/Layout/FolderPane is NOTgreyed and Folderplane remainsunchecked.
    I select (attempt to check) it.
    Nothing happens!
    So, how do I show the Folder Pane nextPane of search results?
    Anyone got a solution? – I’ve search!

  7. Dave Says:

    Sorry for the typos – I was on a wierdly mapped keyboard. The last bit should have read: So, how do I show the Folder Pane next to a search result pane?
    Anyone got a solution? – I’ve searched without success!
    Also looked at Nostalgy
    https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/thunderbird/addon/nostalgy/
    which looks fantastic but I can’t tell if it can do the above. I’ll contact author and report back if it can.
    D.

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