Portable Thunderbird with Enigmail / GPG [PTEG]

  1. News
  2. Information
  3. Download
  4. Installing
  5. Upgrading
  6. Upgrading - Individual Components
  7. Tips
  8. Known Limitations
  9. Credit


:: 2005.11.13 IMPORTANT John Haller has included my work in his latest Portable Thunderbird Deer Park release. I recommend using it over PTEG at this point in time as it contains my work plus the latest work of John Haller. I have a few plans for PTEG, some of which will probably be added to JH's work when they are stable. Until I come up with something fresh, use JH's Deer Park release.

:: 2005.10.06 PTEG 1.0.7 based on JH PTB 1.0.7 released. Updated GnuPG to 1.4.2 and Enigmail OpenPGP to 0.93.0. Get it while it's hot. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the UI changes in Enigmail OpenPGP.

:: 2005.10.04 PTEG based on PTB 1.0.7 will be released in a few days. Stay tuned.

:: 2005.07.29 Webserver is going to be offline beginning July 31 for an unknown amount of time. See for more info.

:: 2005.07.26 Released 1.0.6 based off of John Haller's Portable Thunderbird 1.0.6.

:: 2005.07.25 I will be making version 1.0.6 available tomorrow, (07.26).

:: 2005.07.22 To answer all of the email I have been receiving... "Yes, 1.0.6 will be out as soon as I can get it out." My main workstation where all of my Windows development takes place exploded yesterday. I just upgraded the CPU a couple weeks ago and things have been kind of "iffy" since then. Yesterday was the crux of the CPU and my patience. It has been RMA'd and I will be receiving a replacement. The old CPU is currently in use and it cannot be put back in the machine (hand-me-down's and such). By the end of yesterday I had the situation under control and a replacement Windows workstation (server technically) will be the development machine until a working CPU is returned. I hope to have 1.0.6 out by the end of the day today.

:: 2005.07.20 Thunderbird 1.0.6 has been released. John Haller has completed Portable Thunderbird 1.0.6 but has not yet made it available for public download. Once it is available for download, I will make the necessary additions/changes and post.

:: 2005.07.16 Thunderbird 1.0.5 has been released, John Haller has updated Portable Thunderbird to 1.0.5 as well. I will not be releasing a version based on 1.0.5 due to problems with mainline and Enigmail. The Enigmail mailing list has had discussion about the problems and the problem is with Thunderbird itself. You can read Dan Veditz (member of Mozilla Security Group) post to the mailing list below.

Hey guys, we royally screwed up on Thunderbird 1.0.5 and we are truly truly sorry about it. We detected the Enigmail breakage, quickly rebuilt with the change backed out, and then in the confusion shipped the original broken version. (We intended to ship the 2005-07-12 afternoon builds, but released the 2005-7-11 bits instead).

We will be re-releasing fixed builds. Because a number of people have already downloaded this build (especially Firefox, which we need to remain API-compatible with Thunderbird due to shared extensions) we will be renaming it 1.0.6 to avoid confusion.

The mess up has increased everyone's paranoia so we're going to take the weekend to test things and make sure we've got the right bits this time, rather than rush it out again. The current plan is to release on Monday.

Again, we are very, very sorry.
-Dan Veditz
Mozilla Security Group

The next release will be based off of 1.0.6 which as you have read is due out in short order.

:: 2005.07.02 Released 1.0.2 based off of Haller's 1.0.2 Beta. The directory structure is quite different, so be sure to familiarize yourself with it if you are so inclined. The launcher is much more versatile, but the defaults all work just fine and are recommended. Still launch with PortableThunderbird.exe.

:: 2005.06.27 Began working on 1.0.2 yesterday (apologies for taking so long), should have something in the next few days.


What is Portable Thunderbird with Enigmail/GPG?

Portable Thunderbird with Enigmail/GPG is a modified version of John Haller's Portable Thunderbird that includes the Enigmail extension giving Thunderbird OpenPGP functionality and an interface to GnuPG. It is designed for a Windows environment (sorry *nix users, the demand was for Win32). What makes it special is that it is designed to be run from removable devices. One example would be a USB key. Certain setbacks had to be overcome to handle and gear the final product toward removable media. John Haller has taken great care in designing Portable Thunderbird to be as removable device friendly as possible.

Sounds like John Haller has done most of the work, what makes your version important?

I will not argue that, John Haller and the Mozilla community deserve all of the credit. My contribution is adding the Enigmail extension, GnuPG, and writing wrappers that setup the environment for GnuPG on the removable device. Now it is possible to not only use Thunderbird on any machine via a removable device, but also to take advantage of Enigmail and its OpenPGP functionality. It is possible to send signed/encrypted mail and receive/decrypt signed/encrypted mail. The GnuPG binaries are kept on the removable device along with Thunderbird. Keyrings and trustdb's are also kept on the removable device in the GnuPG directory (which happens to be 'gpg').

What removable devices are supported?

Pretty much any device that Windows can recognize and assign a drive letter. The drive letter can change across machines, it doesn't matter. USB sticks/keys/drives are popular, but any removable storage will work just fine (iPods are popular). Heck you don't even have to use removable storage if you don't want to... Extract it to your desktop and fire it up if you want, it will run anywhere.

What is the current version of Portable Thunderbird with Enigmail/GPG?

The current version is Portable Thunderbird with Enigmail/GPG 1.0.7 . Version 1.0.7 is based on John Haller's Portable Thunderbird 1.0.7 Beta, which is based on Thunderbird 1.0.7


You can obtain Portable Thunderbird with Enigmail/GPG below.

It is recommended that you use John Haller's latest Portable Thunderbird Deer Park release which now includes my work from PTEG.

Download (v1.0.7):
Size: ~10.0 MiB
MD5: d6d24f824a4ec44a574d411ea5484b25


  1. Download the archive, unpack the archive preserving the directory hierrarchy. It would be wise to unpack the archive directly to your removable device, so you do not have to move it later.
  2. If the directory structure has been preserved, then go ahead and run PortableThunderbird.exe in the 'PortableThunderbird' directory. It may take a minute to load depending on the speed of your removable device.
  3. Setup your account in Thunderbird. You will just be setting up an account, not a profile. The default profile has already been created and is being used.
  4. After your account has been setup, feel free to check your mail. Eventually, click on "Tools", then "Account Settings". Find and highlight "OpenPGP Security" in the left pane. Check "Enable OpenPGP support..." and click "OK".
  5. That's it, although there are a few more things you will probably want to do if you haven't used Enigmail before. See below.


These upgrading instructions, at this time, are valid for any version of Portable Thunderbird with Enigmail / GPG.

Upgrading consists of downloading a new version of the project, then transferring over files from your old 'profile' directory to the 'profile' directory in the new version.

These instructions are by no means complete, they are to be used as a guideline. There are many people who have custom configurations of Thunderbird, configurations which modify files that may not be listed here. If this is the case with you, you will have to experiment and isolate the necessary files.

WARNING: Do NOT just copy over the old 'profile' directory to the new 'profile' directory. This will result in Enigmail not working among other anomalies.

That being said, we can begin with actual instructions.

  1. BACKUP YOUR OLD VERSION! Zip (or your archiver of choice) up your entire 'thunderbird' directory and keep it somewhere safe. You can extract this later and try again if something goes wrong.
  2. Download the new version of Portable Thunderbird with Enigmail / GPG. Extract it somewhere. Do not extract it to the same location where your previous installation is kept. You should now have two copies to play with. The old version, and a fresh new vanilla version.
  3. You will be copying files from your old 'profile' directory to your new 'profile' directory. Below are the files and directories that are most common.
  4. Copy the following directories (if they are present) from your old 'profile' directory to your new 'profile' directory.
  5. Copy the following files from your old 'gpg' directory to your new 'gpg' directory if they exist.
  6. Launch with PortableThunderbird.exe

TIP: Hold down Control and click to select multiple non-sequential files in a given directory. This will speed up your interaction with the Explorer interface and allow you copy the necessary files quicker. Directories can be selected as well.

Upgrading - Individual Components

As you may have noticed, the entire package is not updated as often as individual components are updated in the community. Thunderbird, Enigmail, and GnuPG will have newer versions available before they are included in the project. Users may want to update individual components as they are made available by the respective developer.

Thunderbird - Upgrading Thunderbird is not recommended at this time due to the fact that it will be Thunderbird mainline and not contain the features/tweaks included in John Haller's Portable Thunderbird. Feel free to play around and upgrade Thunderbird, but it is not recommended. Wait for the next version of Portable Thunderbird, which will be included in the project as soon as it is available.

Enigmail - Enigmail should upgrade just fine. If you are using an older version you may find this useful. If you are using >= 0.90.x you can just use the update mechanism available in "Tools" -> "Extensions".

GnuPG - Upgrading GnuPG is not usually necessary, but some may feel the need. Just drop the binaries (and any supporting files) into the 'gpg' directory. The only real kicker about messing around with GnuPG is that you need to use at a minimum version 1.4.1 . Version 1.4.1 added support for the 'GNUPGHOME' environment variable which is now used by the launcher. The variable allows GnuPG to function without any requirement on the Windows registry.


Known Limitations

The following are known limitations. Some will hopefully be removed in later releases.


The following software and people have made this possible.

As I have said many times, the folks listed above deserve the credit. My contribution is a small bottle of Elmers® glue that mushes everything together

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