Integrate email and news
Firefox does not include a mail client: this functionality has been outsourced to its cousin, Thunderbird. However, a quick glance at some of the menu options might make you think the Firefox developers didn't get that memo:
For emailing the current URL
For composing a new email message (Windows only)
For opening your mail client to read new messages (Windows only)
In addition to these menu items, there are frequent mailto: or news: links on the Web that should allow you to send an email message or read a newsgroup. Firefox contains just enough glue to pass all these potential actions on to another program.
The good news is that if you have a default mail program set up on your operating system, all of these functions will integrate seamlessly with that program without any additional work. If you are running Firefox on Unix/Linux and you don't have a default mail program set up on Linux, or if you want Firefox to use a different program, you can integrate Firefox with your mail program by setting the following preferences:
network.protocol-handler.external.mailto /* set to true, no default */
network.protocol-handler.app.mailto /* set to filepath, no default */
For example, if you want Linux Firefox to launch Thunderbird when you click on a mailto: link, set the network.protocol-handler.app.mailto preference to the following filepath, if that happens to be where Thunderbird's startup program is located:
To do the same thing for links that use the news:, snews:, or nntp: protocols, verify that the following preferences are set to true:
Then, set one or more of these matching preferences to the name of your newsreader:
Another option for handling mailto: links is to use the Launchy extension, discussed below.
If you prefer to use a Web mailer, such as Gmail or Hotmail, there's a solution for that, too. The Webmailcompose extension allows you to override the behavior of mailto: links by directing you to a Web mail provider of your choice. It also replaces the various mail-related menu options with a list of supported services from which you can choose.
Integrate Email Message Counts
On Windows operating systems, there are two additional items under the Tools menu: Read Mail and New Message. The New Message button will start a new message in your default mail client (or whatever client you have chosen to override the default), just as if you had clicked on a mailto: link with no recipient. The Read Mail option does the same thing, except that it also displays how many new unread messages you have. That might seem curious, given that Firefox has no mail functionality of its own.
In fact, you might find that it indicates you have 125 new messages, but you've already checked and are sure you don't. Or maybe it reads "(0 new)," even when you know you have unread mail waiting for you.
The problem here is that Firefox is not actually checking to see if you have new mail but rather is relying on Windows to provide this information. More specifically, Firefox is looking in the Windows Registry for the key HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\Curre ntVersion\UnreadMail. If the key exists, it queries the MessageCount registry property for the default mail account (or the first one that is listed if there is no default). This property is updated by mail utilities such as Outlook Express. It is not used by Thunderbird or other third-party mail clients. Therefore, the text in the Tools menu will be accurate only if your mail client tells Windows this information on a regular basis.