For reading and writing emails, Tails includes Thunderbird.

To start Thunderbird choose Applications ▸ Internet ▸ Thunderbird.

You can activate the Thunderbird persistence feature to store your emails and settings across separate working sessions.

For more detailed documentation, refer to the official Thunderbird help.

Configure an email account

It is impossible to connect to email providers that require the OAuth authentication mechanism such as GMail or Mail.ru

  1. When starting Thunderbird for the first time, an assistant appears to guide you through the process of configuring Thunderbird to access your email account.

    To start this assistant again in the future from the main window of Thunderbird, choose Menu ▸ Preferences ▸ Account Settings and then from the Account Settings dialog choose Account Actions ▸ Add Mail Account….

  2. Enter your name, email address, and password into the corresponding fields.

  3. Click Continue.

  4. The assistant tries to configure automatically the correct parameters to connect to your email provider based on your email address.

    If the automatic configuration fails, consult your email provider about how to configure your email account manually.

  5. If the automatic configuration succeeds, you might have to specify which protocol to use to connect to your email provider, either IMAP or POP.

    • With IMAP, Thunderbird constantly synchronizes with the server and displays the emails and folders that are currently stored on the server. IMAP is better suited if you access your emails from different operating systems.

    • With POP, Thunderbird downloads the emails that are in the inbox on the server and possibly deletes them from the server. POP is better suited if you access your emails from Tails only and store them in the persistent storage.

    To know more, see also this comparison between POP and IMAP by Riseup.

OpenPGP encryption with Enigmail

Thunderbird in Tails includes the Enigmail extension to encrypt and authenticate emails using OpenPGP.

To configure Enigmail for your email account, you can start the Enigmail Setup Wizard by choosing Menu ▸ Enigmail ▸ Setup Wizard.

You can also create an OpenPGP key associated with your email address as part of the Enigmail Setup Wizard.

If you are new to OpenPGP, you can read the following guides on getting started with encrypting emails using Thunderbird and Enigmail:

Enhanced privacy with TorBirdy

Thunderbird in Tails includes the TorBirdy extension for additional privacy and anonymity.

Sending emails in HTML format is disabled by TorBirdy. Emails received in HTML format are displayed in plain text and can become harder to read.

To learn more about the security properties of TorBirdy, you can read its design document.