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Date when the message was actually received by Thunderbird

Discussion of features in Mozilla Thunderbird
Maksym Kozub

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Post Posted November 25th, 2020, 7:45 am

The Received date shown by Thunderbird for messages in any folder, used to sort messages, etc. is the date when the message was placed in the maildrop by the last mailserver. In some situations, it would be nice to be able to see in the user interface the date and time when the message has been actually delivered from that maildrop to the user's local mailbox.
Some other mail user agents have this feature. While some of such MUAs, e.g. The Bat!, use a different mailbox format, not Unix mbox, it should be relatively easy to implement this feature in mbox-based Thunderbird: there is the date and time in the first From_ line for the message in mbox, so we just need to show it somehow in the UI.
Such idea was briefly mentioned on Bugzilla years ago: see https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=190337#c6. I think the time has come to finally implement it.
I have posted a request for enhancement at https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1679262; please support it if you agree that this is a useful feature to have.
There are many use cases where one would need it. Suppose, for example, that there are 5 messages received by Gmail server yesterday, but I was not able to download them because of some connection/server-side spam filtering/whatever problems. Now I have finally downloaded them, as well as 20 other messages that arrived to Gmail server today. If I look at the message list in Thunderbird ordered by Received: date, I may not realize that there are not 20 but 25 new messages, i.e. those I received today, which need some action from me.
Last edited by Maksym Kozub on November 25th, 2020, 8:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post Posted November 25th, 2020, 7:56 am

Hi,
Just a quick note re; commenting on bugzilla...
Please ref; > https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/page.cgi?id=etiquette.html
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tanstaafl
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Post Posted November 25th, 2020, 8:03 am

The IMAP received date add-on sounds like what you want. It doesn't support version 78 yet, but the add-on author says they are working on that.

"Suppose, for example, that there are 5 messages received by Gmail server yesterday, but I was not able to download them because of some connection/server-side spam filtering/whatever problems."

Use a IMAP account. It also avoids logjams due to a POP account not being able to downlead a message due to bad headers/MIME layout. Support for POP accounts will never disappear but they're a legacy feature nowadays.

it should be relatively easy to implement this feature in mbox-based Thunderbird: there is the date and time in the first From_ line for the message in mbox,

Thunderbird supports both mbox and maildir storage formats. Both store the Received: headers added by each server as the message is sent. The lowest one in the message (nearest the To:/Subject: headers) is the one added by the original sender.

Maksym Kozub

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Post Posted November 25th, 2020, 8:07 am

Thank you, I saw those rules. If you mean p. 4 there, I did not mean asking anybody to post "Me too" comments etc. on Bugzilla :). I just meant that maybe some participants of mozillaZine forum would suggest particular techniques to implement it, or maybe somebody would decide to develop a Thunderbird add-on to that end, etc.

Maksym Kozub

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Post Posted November 25th, 2020, 8:36 am

tanstaafl wrote:Use a IMAP account. It also avoids logjams due to a POP account not being able to downlead a message due to bad headers/MIME layout. Support for POP accounts will never disappear but they're a legacy feature nowadays.
Thank you; as an e-mail user since ca. 1990 (yes, I remember UUCP etc. :)), I do know about IMAP and all that stuff, and I use IMAP for some of my mail accounts. _However_, I do have (like many people whom I know) my valid reasons to stick to POP for a large part of my mail. I would not like to clutter this forum topic with those, but if you are interested, I can describe them in a personal message, or a separate topic, etc. (The same applies to the reasons why I have started considering whether I should switch to Thunderbird after many years since the last time I used Netscape/Mozilla mail clients, and having spent quite some money over years on The Bat! licenses, etc.)
tanstaafl wrote:FYI Thunderbrid supports both mbox and maildir storage formats. Both store the Received: headers that you want to use.
Thank you, I know that Thunderbird supports both formats. However, there are two points I have to make in this regard.
First, I have ca. 500,000 (yes, half a million) e-mail messages archived over years, in several hundreds of folders, and maildir does not seem to be the best option in this situation. (Before you start wondering about the number of e-mails I receive and send, I will say again that I have been using e-mail since ca. 1990, for various professional, personal, political and other purposes. I am not that famous, but I am _sort of_ a public person in my country, my professional area, etc.)
Second (and this is more important), it is not so much about Received: headers. As I already said, Received: is about the date/time when the message was received by the mailserver's MTA, not the user's MUA.
Consider this message as taken from mbox:

From support@brainbench.com Sat Jan 10 22:46:58 2004
X-From_: support@brainbench.com Sat Jan 10 21:34:22 2004
X-Real-To: ...
Return-Path: <support@brainbench.com>
Received: from http://www.brainbench.com (http://www.brainbench.com [209.225.14.137] (may be forged))
by mail. ... .ua (8.12.9/8.12.8) with SMTP id ...
for ...; Sat, 10 Jan 2004 21:34:21 +0200 (EET)
(envelope-from support@brainbench.com)
Date: Sat, 10 Jan 2004 21:34:19 +0200 (EET)
Received: (qmail 15376 invoked from network); 10 Jan 2004 19:34:14 -0000
Received: from localhost (HELO web3) (127.0.0.1)
by localhost with SMTP; 10 Jan 2004 19:34:14 -0000
Message-ID: ...

Thunderbird shows it as received on 10.01.2004, 21:34.
The Bat! shows it as received on 10.01.2004, 22:46, _which is precisely what I would like to have (as an option, etc.) in Thunderbird_.

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