Thunderbird - all my email suddenly went blank…

I migrated from Outlook 2003 to Thunderbird a few weeks ago. I really like Thunderbird, especially the adaptive junk mail filtering…

Just a few minutes ago I was checking my mail and suddenly everything in my inbox was blank. It was there, but I couldn’t view anything. This had never happened with Outlook so I was (1) terrified momentarily that all my recent business mail was gone but then (2) resolved to find it….

I went Googling for ‘blank emails in thunderbird’ and found this little article with a list of things that might have gone wrong:

Turns out it was not a corrupted inbox but a Norton Antivirus issue – it caught an incoming virus and quarantined my entire inbox.

To fix this, open the Norton program, select View then Quarantine then look at the filename. If it says anything other than ‘inbox’, clean it or delete it as desired.

If (as in my case) it does say the filename is ‘inbox’ (and you’re using a version of Norton that shows the ‘Restore’ option above the filename) go to the Symantec site and follow the instructions near the bottom.

Namely: “Start Symantec AntiVirus. On the View menu, click Quarantine or Backup Items.  In the right pane, right-click the inbox file, and then click Restore.”

Too good to be true – I did this, reopened my Thunderbird, looked at one message and it quarantined the inbox again. After 2-3 tries, I finally dragged all my older messages (prior to a few hours ago) into a new folder, deleted the inbox in Norton holding the remaining couple of emails, and then everything was okay.

You can set Norton to exclude the inbox from scanning so that it won’t quarantine the whole thing, but will do so to messages with viruses. I’m hoping this works in the future.


  1. Finding this saved me a lot of time.
    Just had nearly the same problem. Only difference was that the virus checker was McAffee.

  2. ihave problem “blank emails in thunderbird”.

    I lost about 7GB = “Inbox”+”Sent”.

    at first i tried remove Inbox.msf and Sent.msf and this do nothing. and after a couple a dayes i found solution.

    I understand why removing .msf did nothing. because you need to change files Inbox and Sent.
    you need to remove all rows


    inside problem files (in my case: Inbox and Sent)

    after this remove Inbox.msf + Sent.msf and voila . I restore all my mails! :)

    for changing files i used perl:

    #perl -pi -e ‘s/(.*)X-Mozilla-Status:(.*)/X/’ `find . | grep -v .sbd | grep -v .dat`

  3. All of a sudden, halfway through my workday any emails I sent showed blank in the sent box: no subject, nothing! Yet the messages were being sent properly (I tested this by sending one to myself). I tend to carry 8-11,000 emails in my in and sent boxes — we get upwards 1500 emails a month from clients and it is too time consuming to go through and delete, which I believe is part of my problem today. I fixed this by creating subfolders under ‘sent’: 2008 Sent, 2007 Sent, etc. Once I had my Sent box down to containing only the current months out messages I did a went under the Sent folders properties and chose “Rebuild” — voila all was restored and viewing as it should be.


  4. I had the very same problem.
    Turns out, I had this add-on (some sort of calendar plug in)… I uninstalled it and, on the next restart was everything ok

    Does not hurt to try…

  5. Thank you so much! I am so very happy with this solution. Got all of my e-mails back. I would never have been able to solve this problem myself.

    Best wishes,

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