How to Delete Unsent Messages in Thunderbird

Thunderbird - Delete Unsent Email MessagesAfter looking through the Thunderbird support forums I noticed that some folks were having trouble figuring out how to delete unsent messages. These are messages that you wrote and chose to “Send Later” or messages that you attempted to send when you are offline. By default, these get saved in your Outbox folder, or your Unsent Messages folder for earlier versions of Thunderbird.


Each time you launch Thunderbird with unsent or “Send Later” messages, Thunderbird nags you with a message:

Do you want to send your unsent messages now?

This can get annoying, especially if you’ve decided not to send that drunken tirade to your ex-boss or ex-lover after all. You can rid yourself of the offending unsent message and Thunderbird’s nagging reminder by deleting the messages from your outbox. This groovy guidel will show you how.

Step 1

Just so we’re clear on what we’re talking about, unsent messages get in your Outbox or Unsent Messages folder when you choose File > Send Later or press CTRL + SHIFT + RETURN after composing a message.  This is different from a draft and it’ll be kept in a different folder as well.

Delete Unsent Messages in Thunderbird Outbox

After doing this, the message won’t be sent immediately—rather it will be placed in your Outbox or Unsent Messages until you choose to send it.

Step 2

When you have unsent messages, Thunderbird nags you with this window every time you launch Thunderbird:

Delete Unsent Messages in Thunderbird Outbox

You can send the unsent message by Clicking Yes. Or you can uncheck Always ask me when I go online and Click No to get rid of this message. However, you won’t be deleting your unsent message—you’ll just opt out of the nag reminder.

Step 3

To delete the message without disabling the reminder, you just have to remove the message from your Outbox. You’ll find this in your Local Folders. It’s a bit tricky to find because it doesn’t get populated until you Click on Local Folders. Plus, it’s not attached to any one account. For example, if you were sending from,  you won’t find your unsent messages in your Sent folder or Drafts folder that corresponds to that account. All of your unsent messages wind up in your Local Folders.

Delete Unsent Messages in Thunderbird Outbox

Step 4

Click Outbox to see all of your unsent messages. Here, you can select them and then delete them forever.

Delete Unsent Messages in Thunderbird Outbox


Now, you’ll no longer be asked if you want to send them.  What do you think, was that an easy fix or what?



  1. Marvin

    August 23, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    I didn’t know how to delete unsent messages. Now I do. Thank you.

    • MrGroove

      August 24, 2011 at 6:45 am

      @Marvin – I’m glad the site helped you out. Welcome to groovyPost!

  2. Paul Peek

    September 19, 2011 at 10:25 am

    Thank you so much! Why couldn’t Thunderbird’s forum explain it this easily…

  3. Katy

    October 19, 2011 at 10:04 am

    Thank you! I’ve been fretting about how to get rid of a message I sent while offline. Whew!

  4. Leslie Woodbine

    December 19, 2011 at 11:04 am

    How do you delete a message that you do not see and everytime you’re exiting from Microsoft Outlook, it asks: There is a message being sent. Exit without sending or dont exit. There is no message in folder and I cannot find any message to delete.

  5. Rod Miller

    January 27, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    With Firefox 9.0.1 I don’t see Local Folders anywhere. How do I delete unsent messages with 9.0.1?

    In a terminal (MacOS) is see a directory named “Local Folders” but the Unsent Message files in it are empty. It appears that 9.0.1 hides the unsent messages somewhere since I can’t find them in terminal.



  6. Janice

    June 16, 2012 at 11:03 am

    Thanks. Clear and precise steps to delete the unsent messages.

  7. Richard

    April 8, 2013 at 8:17 pm

    Well done! Thank you, Jack Busch.

  8. Suzanne

    April 15, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    Thank you! It was so annoying to get that message, now gone.

  9. Mast

    May 23, 2013 at 1:53 am

    Very good and easy to follow tutorial – I like the way the steps are laid out.
    What program did you use to create the screen shots?



  10. Gary Williams

    June 28, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  11. varanosh

    July 26, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    cool. thx. saved my sanity :)

  12. Josie

    July 26, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    Thank you!!! This has been driving me CRAZY! What a relief.

  13. Francesca

    September 12, 2013 at 10:43 am

    Have been looking into this forever!! and had every time to say “no don’t send” – now its gone, yess!! Thanks a million!

    • Steve Krause

      September 12, 2013 at 10:30 pm

      Yes you bet! Glad we could help.

  14. RickyGold

    October 23, 2013 at 8:35 am

    So hard before, so easy after.
    Thanks Jack !

    • RickyGold

      October 23, 2013 at 8:37 am

      … and Steve !!! :-)

  15. Johan

    November 7, 2013 at 7:10 pm

    Thunderbird 24.1.0, maybe work with other versions to.

    Click in the menu: view-folder-unified and you will se outbox with unsent message and could delete if you want.

    Back to normal view again. Same procedure and press “all folders” instead of (unified).

  16. Cheryl

    January 28, 2014 at 11:33 am

    That was great! I’m not great with tech, but this only took a minute or so to fix. Thanks!

  17. Jens

    February 3, 2014 at 10:03 am

    …amazing when you look for solutions endless hours and it turns out to be so easy. Many thanks!!!

  18. Sol

    June 17, 2016 at 12:11 am

    One more thanks to you guys!

  19. Da Deuce

    June 18, 2018 at 1:54 pm

    Works just like you explained! Thank you!

  20. Pierre Theron

    November 4, 2019 at 2:24 am

    Unsent mail was the bane of my Thunderbird experience until I read this. Thank you!

  21. Alin

    September 7, 2020 at 11:47 pm

    This helped. Thank you!

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