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Getting Google Desktop To Index Thunderbird

Posted by on Nov 5, 2008

For about two weeks now I’ve been trying to figure out why Google Desktop wouldn’t index any of my email in Mozilla Thunderbird. I searched all over the place, and just couldn’t figure it out. I’ve finally figured it out, with some serious searching online and some testing on my own, and I’m going to tell you how I did it.

The first thing you do is close Thunderbird. The second thing you do is open up your Explorer window. Then go into your Program Files, Google, and then whatever is next; on my computer it’s Google Desktop Search, but on some computer it’s Google Desktop Directory. Once there, highlight whatever files you have that say “GoogleDesktopMozilla“; you probably won’t need them all, but copy them just in case. Then go to the Program Files for Mozilla Thunderbird, and paste whatever you can into the Components folder; if a file is already there, you don’t have to copy over it.

Then you go into your Thunderbird profile, which you access by C:DocumentsandSettings(username)/ApplicationData/Thunderbird/Profiles(unique profile). Once there, delete a file called “compreg.dat“.

That’s it. Open up Thunderbird, and Google Desktop should start indexing your email files in the background. You can check it by opening it up to see if it says it’s indexing. If not, just start the indexing process. Of course, if you’re starting from the beginning, indexing could take a long time, which means while you’re doing things your computer might slow down. But I love Google Desktop, and if you do also, give this fix a shot.

And there you go. By the way, if it’s not indexing your Firefox files, you can do the same process, only go into Program Files and then Firefox.

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Hendrik XIX:

I have been looking for a solution to this problem for quite sometime and this seems like the only solution that works to allow Google Desktop to properly index Thunderbird emails. I wasn’t able to find anything that worked at Google’s own boards.

Hendrik XIX´s last blog post..Modifying a Fender Blues Junior

January 12th, 2009 | 8:44 PM

I hope it works out for you. I have learned that it only works on XP, since Google Desktop isn’t compatible with 64-bit Vista; ugh.

January 12th, 2009 | 9:02 PM

Very helpful article, addressed the exact problem I was facing.
Thank you!

April 21st, 2009 | 9:57 PM

Glad to help, Eddie.

April 21st, 2009 | 10:15 PM

It really worked. That’s what i needed. Thanks.

May 6th, 2009 | 5:09 PM
Brent Eades:

Hey great, thanks for this. I can stop banging my head against my desk now (it was starting to hurt! 🙂

May 31st, 2009 | 9:50 AM

Glad it worked out for you, Brent. This seems to be a very popular post, even if not that many people commented on it.

May 31st, 2009 | 10:07 AM


Excellent article. Now it works as it should. By the way, GTS works under 64bit. Just start the installation in the commandline with the option /force and it will install.


June 3rd, 2009 | 4:00 AM

Hi Chris,

I’ve been able to get it installed in Vista, but it’s not quite working correctly, and sometimes just shuts things down. Disappointing to say the least.

June 3rd, 2009 | 7:35 AM

Wow, awesome post. It worked like a champ. You are my hero!

Thank you,

June 14th, 2009 | 6:21 PM

No problem; glad it worked out for you.

June 14th, 2009 | 8:13 PM

Thanks for this article! So helpful, and pretty much the only solution I found after a massive searching effort.

August 11th, 2009 | 1:45 PM

Glad it worked for you, Jason. Always trying to help out. 🙂

August 11th, 2009 | 4:07 PM

Hi Mate
Was loving this, exactly what i needed until the last step – cant find any of the directories u descrive in order to delete the compreg.datfile. Used every search i could to find the file on my pc and no results. No file found. Any suggestions dude ? Thanks so much in advance 🙂

August 12th, 2009 | 4:54 PM

Hi John,

Just a quick question; are you on XP or Vista? Google Desktop won’t work in Vista at all. That’s the only thing I can think of, because otherwise that file should be there. If not, and you’re on XP, you might want to think about reloading Thunderbird then running this process. You can do that without losing any of your data files.

August 12th, 2009 | 5:27 PM

PS – u r my last hope – nothing else on the web even suggests its possible 🙂

August 12th, 2009 | 5:09 PM

I have things working on Vista!! I tried the solution you described on Vista. Did not work as your predicted.

Then I read this from Google Help. Looking at Point (C), I decided to uninstall Google Desktop, taking care to delete the existing index (it asks you whether to do so when uninstalling). I then checked that I had the latest version of Thunderbird. I also made sure that I had every folder marked for offline sync and did a full sync to offline — so I knew I had a local copy of all my IMAP mail. I rebooted. Then installed the latest version of Google Desktop. And let it index for a day.

Lo and behold, it now works and indexes my Thunderbird email — I have no idea exactly what happened — but I’d suggest that people on Vista try the same incantations — that is (a) uninstall Google Desktop (b) apply the changes mentioned in your post (deleting compreg etc) (c) check that thunderbird has latest version (d) make sure you have marked all folders for offline sync, actually do an offline sync and ensure that a local copy of all IMAP mail exists (e) reboot (f) reinstall Google Desktop and let it run.

For the record, I have Vista Home Premium Service Pack 1 fully updated by Windows Update, Mozilla Thunderbird version (20090812) and Google Desktop 5.9.0906.04286-en-pb.

Thanks for your post — it got me pointed in the right direction.

August 25th, 2009 | 1:13 AM

Hi Sam. The thing is that Google Desktop wasn’t supposed to work with Vista; at least not until recently, when they added the new 64-bit version, which I wrote about here:

I’m glad you got yours working properly, though; always glad to help in whatever way possible.

August 25th, 2009 | 6:03 PM

Thanks a million for that fix. It has solved an issue that has been bugging me for ages.

September 30th, 2009 | 6:14 PM

Glad it helped, Alan. Now you can get Vista and deal with the new version of Desktop, which I also wrote about. 🙂

October 1st, 2009 | 12:35 AM
Tam Vu:

Just for the record, It works like a charm on Windows 7. Thanks Mitch

February 10th, 2010 | 11:54 AM

Good deal Tam. Course, once Google Desktop finally added a 64-bit version, things worked very well.

February 10th, 2010 | 7:16 PM

Thunderbird will index with GDS. Once GDS finds the emails, can’t view them in Thunderbird. Know it’s a bug with TB beyond 2.0 — is there a fix yet?



June 3rd, 2010 | 4:10 AM

Juan, the only time I can’t read the emails in Thunderbird is if I’ve already deleted them. Google Desktop will still keep at least a mini-record of those emails, even once deleted. Otherwise, I’ve always found the email, even if not quite where I thought it was going to be.

June 3rd, 2010 | 9:48 AM

Thanks Mitch. I can find the emails, but I can’t view them in TB. It gives me a choice to “View in Mozilla,” but when I click on them, nothing happens. I can find out the date and then go with TB into my saved files on Local Folders or wherever else it might be and then open it from there — it’s very time consuming to do it that way.


June 3rd, 2010 | 3:36 PM

Just asking, but are you running the newest version of Desktop, which is for 64-bit computers? I wrote about it here. I’m surprised you’re not seeing anything in Mozilla; I’ve been lucky in being able to see almost entire emails, even those I’ve deleted, if they’re not too long.

June 3rd, 2010 | 4:04 PM

Thanks for prompt comeback. I think I have the 64-bit version. Is the one you talk about for Vista good tor Windows 7 too. My version is Google Desktop 5.9.0911.03589-en-pb.


June 3rd, 2010 | 4:19 PM

Yes, you have 64-bit; the latest version is 5.9.1005.12335. However, if you’re having that issue, I’m not sure updating to the newest version will correct it. I assume you’re also running Firefox 3.6.3?

June 3rd, 2010 | 4:38 PM

I used to use Firefox, but now I’m running Google Chrome. I also use IE 8.0. Should I switch to Firefox as my default?

June 3rd, 2010 | 4:43 PM

That’s what I’d do, Juan, since Google Desktop is made by the same people who make Firefox. I’ve never even thought about adding the toolbar to any other browser, which I hesitate to use anyway.

June 4th, 2010 | 1:14 AM

Made Firefox my default browser earlier, but still says “View in Mozilla” and nothing happens when I do.



June 4th, 2010 | 1:21 AM

Okay, we’re ruling things out. Are you using the latest version of Thunderbird, 3.0.4?

June 4th, 2010 | 1:25 AM

Yes — 3.0.4

June 4th, 2010 | 1:28 AM

Okay, two more questions. One, which version of Windows are you running? Two, did you try doing a reindex to see if it could find that stuff? Actually a third question; when you do a search and your files come up, such as a Word file, can you read that stuff in the browser?

June 4th, 2010 | 1:42 AM

Using Windows 7 Home Premium Edition. Computer is brand new — a couple of months old. No problem opening Word docs off a GDS search. Don’t know what a reindex is or how you do it.

June 4th, 2010 | 1:49 AM

Actually, I think the problem started after they went past the 2.0. I found this last night after I wrote you.

Easier to follow the link rather than the text I pasted.


June 4th, 2010 | 1:33 AM

I removed the rest of that stuff; I’d already read it. Actually, it started working much better for me when I upgraded to 3.0. It seems to index emails I just send and when new emails come in it automatically indexes those as well. I have a great integration between the two. Just asking, but since you just made Firefox your default browser, and I already asked if you’ve reindexed your previous stuff, have you downloaded any new emails and seen if they’ve been indexed, and if you can access them on the browser?

June 4th, 2010 | 1:47 AM

The indexing seems to be working OK. Just pasted subject: “New Comment On: Getting Google Desktop To Index Thunderbird” and it found 8 messages. I can Preview or view in the Google Desktop , but cannot view in Mozilla (which is an option) or in TB.

June 4th, 2010 | 1:56 AM

Okay, we might have an interesting thing going on here. If you’re already able to view it in Google Desktop, why would you then need to view it in Mozilla? I’ve never noticed that there before, but that “view in Mozilla” won’t do anything because Firefox is Mozilla. I was thinking you couldn’t read it at all, but that’s not the case if I’m understanding you correctly. All the Desktop client will tell you is where the email was when it indexed it originally. If it was in your inbox and you deleted it, or saved it somewhere, Desktop won’t know that because it will only index it where it originally was unless you add new stuff to it. That’s why it gives you all the threaded messages, so you can possibly track down your original email if need be, but if you have it all there in Firefox then you shouldn’t need to track it down, and of course won’t be able to if you deleted it.

Just verifying this, you can read it in the preview and then when you actually click on the link, correct? If you can see it then, that’s the best you can do.

June 4th, 2010 | 2:10 AM

The plot thickens. I am only interested in viewing it in Thunderbird (not in Mozilla)– that’s the email format I use. I’ve been using Thunderbird for about 12 years. My TB profile file is over 147GB. It contains well over 100,000 emails in different folders. Whenever my inbox exceeds exceeds a couple of GBs, I move its messages to local folders so my TB won’t get bogged down. When I want to forward an old email to somebody, I do a search, view it in Thunderbird, then forward it from there. Now I have to look at the date of the message on the GDS, go into TB and local folders, find the right folder and then do a search within that folder. IT can be pretty time consuming and I didn’t have to do it before.

June 4th, 2010 | 2:31 AM

You’re kidding! Is there a reason you’re keeping so much email? Goodness, only one state in the union requires most medical information, medical records notwithstanding, to be held only 7 years. If you’ve moved to Windows 7 then it’s probably not the program that’s failing as much as how things have updated. It’s one of the reasons why I still use a Palm as opposed to switching to a smartphone. All the information I want, along with memos, notepads, task lists and a daily record are things I’m used to that smartphones don’t have. Now that you’re on Win 7, you can’t go backwards with the technology unfortunately; you’d have to reload Win XP to load the old version of Desktop, and I’m assuming that’s not going to happen. Of course, you could just copy and paste what’s in the browser into a new email and send it out; I’m thinking that would be much quicker and it certainly solves your issue, since the entire email is there in the browser anyway, along with the email address. Unfortunately, that’s the best I think you’re going to be able to do from this point on.

June 4th, 2010 | 2:57 AM

I have a lot of professional articles, emails, and personal stuff. The problem started way before Windows 7. It may have started with XP, but I think the problem is with TB after they went above 2.0. Thank you for your generosity and time. Need to start getting ready for bed. Will be back to your site — you’ve been very helpful and are a great guy.

Thank you,


June 4th, 2010 | 3:08 AM

Thanks Juan; I should have been in bed hours ago, since it’s past 3AM here. Take care, and have a wonderful weekend.

June 4th, 2010 | 3:16 AM

Thanks again. I’m on EST too, so it’s 3:20 here too.Will come back to visit.


June 4th, 2010 | 3:20 AM

If I find the fix, I’ll let you know and share with you.


June 4th, 2010 | 3:21 AM
David Hillel:

tried your solution, after deleting the cache. didn’t help. GDS is still saying “Thunderbird email is indexed only when the application is open.” on the “index status” page – which means it can’t “see” thunderbird is working.
GDS 5.9.1005.12335-en-pb. TB 3.1.6

November 7th, 2010 | 4:28 PM

When I wrote this post, we were still on Firefox 2.X. Have you seen this post, as it might help?

November 7th, 2010 | 6:40 PM
David hillel:

now i moved from win xp to win 7 64 bit. the problem still persists. GDS (5.9.1005.12335-en-pb) won’t index emails. it just says “Thunderbird email is indexed only when the application is open” on the “index status” page – even after trying your solution

March 16th, 2011 | 3:55 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

David, they moved stuff with the updated version, which I also wrote about. It’s just not working for me either, and I’ve done some other manipulations without success. I think Google stopped caring once they started to develop their own stuff, and it’s too bad.

March 16th, 2011 | 8:44 AM
ron grubman:

Well, I have moved to W7, so not sure your fix would work ??

But in any case i have found W7 Search to be pretty good, and it does appear to index Tbird emails. BUT, it does NOT open the emails into Tbird, even though that is an option. The option just does not work with TB3. I have work-arounds but they are not good. Ideas ??

November 7th, 2010 | 5:01 PM
ron grubman:

I just sent a comment, and this is merely to ask for notifcation by email.



November 7th, 2010 | 5:02 PM

Ron, I hope you saw the link I just sent David; the new version is supposed to work better.

November 7th, 2010 | 6:42 PM