Q: I have used Mozilla Thunderbird as my email program for the last seven years instead of Outlook, because it is free. Over the last six months or so though, I have been unable to activate any of the links I receive in my emails when I click on them. I'm not sure what to do, and I find Mozilla's Thunderbird support hard to follow. Do you have a solution?
— James C., Sebastian
A: Outlook does have a free option these days, which is just a rebranded version of the old Microsoft Mail/Live Mail product that comes pre-installed with Windows. If you can't find it on your computer and/or want to download and install the latest version of it, then please visit this URL: outlook.live.com/owa.
Having said that, Mozilla's Thunderbird is a fine free alternative to Outlook and is usually reliable for everyday email use (send/receive messages, save messages to folders, etc.). Support for it is a bit quirky, however. Rather than offer direct phone or email support, users with issues must scour the rather expansive, and at times daunting, Mozilla's Thunderbird Support Forum for help, available at this URL: support.mozilla.org/en-US/products/thunderbird.
If you cannot find an answer to your question easily on the support forum, then it's suggested you create an account with Mozilla and post your question publicly to the forum, which (believe it or not) often yields very good results. To do this, visit this URL and then click on the "Ask Now" button on the right of the page: support.mozilla.org/en-US/questions/new/thunderbird.
The Thunderbird Support Forum itself does host a page devoted exclusively to the problem listed above, found here: support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/hyperlinks-in-messages-not-working.
Per the information on this forum page, the most common cause of this issue is that your version of Windows has somehow lost its default browser designation. This means that when you click on a URL in your email, the Thunderbird program no longer knows where to direct that link (since no default browser has been designated in Windows) and as a result the link doesn't work when clicked.
To fix this, you need to reset your browser default designation on the computer. Steps to do this for the more popular browsers are available at these URLs:
For Chrome: support.google.com/chrome/answer/95417
If this does not work, then chances are the issue has been generated by one of three other possible causes:
Another program on the system is blocking the link from opening and needs to be removed or modified. This could be anything from an antivirus to a new piece of software that was recently installed but conflicts with Thunderbird.
A recently installed add-on or extension in your default browser is blocking the URLs from opening and needs to be removed or modified or
A setting in Thunderbird is blocking the URL from opening and needs to be changed or updated.
Instructions for working through each of these potential situations can be found at the link mentioned above: support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/hyperlinks-in-messages-not-working
Specifically, look for the instructions found beneath the sub-headlines "Check that no application is specified for the HTTP content type," "Check for an incorrect preference" and "Check for interference from an extension."
If the problem continues after that, then consider posting your question to the Mozilla Thunderbird Support Forum and waiting for a reply from the community — again, steps for doing this are mentioned above and this often yields a high success rate.
Alternatively, if you are tired of using Mozilla and/or want a different option, you can always download, install and setup the free version of Outlook (at the link above) or you can try a different free email program, such as Mailspring Free, which works very similarly to the free version of Outlook. It can be downloaded at this URL: getmailspring.com.
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This article originally appeared on Treasure Coast Newspapers: Computer help: Mozilla Thunderbird isn’t allowing me to open links