How do I do an email merge in Thunderbird?

The Mail Merge extension for Thunderbird offers an simple way to perform an email merge using an Excel spreadsheet and Thunderbird.

Install the Mail Merge Thunderbird extension

If you have a machine managed by CETS, please contact CETS and ask for the Thunderbird Mail Merge extension to be installed.

If you manage your own machine, download the Thunderbird Mail Merge extension. Once you have downloaded the .xpi file, open Thunderbird and navigate to Tools > Add-ons. Choose the "Install Add-on from File..." and select the .xpi file you downloaded. Restart Thunderbird to finish the installation.

Create a Spreadsheet

  1. Create an Excel spreadsheet with the data you want to merge into an email. The first row should contain a name for each column. Here is an sample spreadsheet:

    spreadsheet sample

  2. Save the spreadsheet as a "CSV (Comma delimited) *.csv" file. In our example, it will be called "email-list.csv". After clicking "Save" you will get two warnings about saving to this format. Click "OK" and then "Yes".

Send an Email Merge Message

  1. Open Thunderbird and start a new message.
  2. Write your message. Surround any text that you want to include from the csv file with two curly braces: {{text}}. For example:

    Sample Email

  3. Once you are happy with your message, select File > Mail Merge.
  4. A dialog box will pop up. Here is a description of the various options:
    • Source: select "CSV" unless you want to send to people in your address book. If you want to use your address book, please see the official Mail Merge extension documentation for more details
    • Deliver Mode: "Save As Draft" will save the merged emails in your drafts folder. "Send Later" will save the merged emails in your Outbox. "Send Now" will send the merged emails immediately (note: this will not give you an opportunity to review the generated emails and is not recommended). In our example we will use the "Send Later" option.
    • Format: use "Plain Text" unless you plan to use HTML.
    • File: click "Browse" and select the csv file you created earlier.
    • Character Set: the default should be fine.
    • Field Delimiter: leave the "," if you are using a comma separated file (like we are in this example).
    • Text Delimiter: the default should be fine.
    • Under Batch you can choose to send only a certain number of the emails.

    Mail Merge Settings

  5. Click OK. The mail merge will run.
  6. If you selected "Send Now" for Deliver Mode, skip the rest of this step since your emails have already been sent. If you selected "Send Later" for Deliver Mode, the merged emails will be stored in "Outbox" under "Local Folders". Check one or two of the emails to make sure the merge worked properly. When you are satisfied the merge worked correctly, send the emails by selecting File > Send Unsent Messages.


Other Features

The Mail Merge extension has other features, including if-then-else statements. See the official Mail Merge extension documentation for more details.

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