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

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

    • MrGroove

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

  2. Paul Peek

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

  3. Katy

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

  4. Leslie Woodbine

    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

    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

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

  7. Richard

    Well done! Thank you, Jack Busch.

  8. Suzanne

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

  9. Mast

    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

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  11. varanosh

    cool. thx. saved my sanity :)

  12. Josie

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

  13. Francesca

    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

      Yes you bet! Glad we could help.

  14. RickyGold

    So hard before, so easy after.
    Thanks Jack !

    • RickyGold

      … and Steve !!! :-)

  15. Johan

    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

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

  17. Jens

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

  18. Sol

    One more thanks to you guys!

  19. Da Deuce

    Works just like you explained! Thank you!

  20. Pierre Theron

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

  21. Alin

    This helped. Thank you!

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