3 Replies Latest reply: Jun 24, 2006 10:37 AM by rainforest
rainforest Level 2 Level 2 (180 points)
I would like to install the email program Mozilla Thunderbird on my Mac OSX (10.4.6) computer which is set up with several different user accounts. I am not sure where to install it so that everyone may be able to use it. I would like to install it once so that everyone may use it rather than installing it multiple times (once for each user).

As you might already know, in Mac OSX when you install a program in the main applications folder, it is available for everyone who uses the computer (available to all accounts). However, the trouble is, that although the actual Thunderbird program is available to all users the profile is not. The profile obviously is an important component of the Thunderbird mail program as it contains all the actual mail messages. When Thunderbird is installed, by default the profile folder is placed in the users home Library folder at:

users home folder/Library/Thunderbird/Profiles/<Profile name>/

This location make it impossible for other users to access the profile and therefore Thunderbird will not work for the other users.

What should I do?

I have a couple solutions, however I would like to ask for some advice on what others do in this situation which I am sure is fairly common.

Here are my solutions:
1. Move the profile folder to a custom location that is accessible by all users in OSX such as the global Library folder (rather than the user's Library folder). Path of global Library folder:
Then let Thunderbird know it was moved to this custom location using Thunderbird's profile manager.

2. Try to figure out a way in mac OSX that allows the profile folder at this default location:
users home folder/Library/Thunderbird/Profiles/<Profile name>/
to be accessible by all users.
Ownership and permissions need to be changed for the profile folder maybe?

3. Install thunderbird multiple times - once for each user - each with their own profile. The problem with this is then there will be multiple installations of the same program and they will not be able to share the same profile folder - which is what I would like to do - if possible.

I have a feeling that solution 1 is the more logical solution.

PS I am using Mac OS 10.4.6 (Tiger) with Thunderbird

Thanks for any advice.

g3 b&w, Mac OS X (10.4.6)
  • Mulder Level 6 Level 6 (8,980 points)
    It's not clear why you would want to do this. Thunderbird is an email client, and if you have multiple users, they would all have different email addresses, so they would each need their own profile in their home folder to avoid others being able to access it.

    You should be able to create multiple, different profiles for each user, so installing Thunderbird in the /Applications folders is the logical place. Moving other support files and folders around is an invitation to trouble.

  • Scott Radloff Level 6 Level 6 (14,490 points)

    You again???

    OK, just as in my last reply to one of your posts, the answer is to keep it simple. Yes, you could place the "profile" folder in a location (outside of a HOME folder) that would be available to everyone, but you would then have to deal with ownership and permissions. Working through this part is not as simple as just changing the permissions for the files. Every time new files are created, they will have the more restrictive permissions set. It gets very complicated.

    The answer, then, is to create an account dedicated to just this application. Everyone will have the password for this account. Call it the "Family" account. Whenever someone wants to check the email using Thunderbird, they simply log into this account (or switch users, if they are doing something in their own account) and check away.

    Another really good idea would be to configure Mail in each account to be able to check whatever email account you want Thunderbird for. While I'm at it, why is Mail not acceptable for this? Mail can be configured to download any new email, but not remove it from the server until it is removed from the Mail application. This way, the email can be downloaded to multiple clients across multiple accounts. It works very well.

  • rainforest Level 2 Level 2 (180 points)
    Yup, its me again Always seem to have a question for the group

    Thanks Mulder and Scott! I am sure glad I asked for your advice. I am completely new to the multi-user environment of OSX - as you can tell. (I guess I am still in OS9 thinking mode where there was only one user.)

    Scott wrote:
    "Mail can be configured to download any new email, but not remove it from the server until it is removed from the Mail application. This way, the email can be downloaded to multiple clients across multiple accounts."

    Interesting. Thanks for pointing this out Scott. Good to know. This would seem to me to be similar to IMAP in some ways. This would be a good way to work in a multi-user environment. This is good info to be aware of.

    It sounds like an interesting way to work.

    Thanks to both of you for steering me aware from the difficulty of attempting to place the profile folder outside the home directory. This sounds like it would have been more work than necessary.

    Why am I not using Apple's Mail program? Good question. I thought I would try out Thunderbird for a while - and maybe switch to Apple Mail later - just to see which one I prefer. I am a web developer and I have always liked the open source community and I thought it would be beneficial for me to become as familiar as possible with all the Mozilla products (Firefox and Thunderbird). As well, it keeps me somewhat on the same wavelength as my PC friends, of whom many use this program too. I don't want to be too much out of touch with my mac. I might try Mail later. Thunderbird has been great so far. It has excellent spam recognition abilities and you can train it too to detect spam.

    Scott the "Family account" idea is an awesome idea. Thanks.

    I have learned a lot from this post. This gives me a few logical solutions. As Mulder points out it is best to keep users' profiles separate. This makes it simpler. Excellent advice. I could still install the Thunderbird application in the global application folder and then each user account can open this Thunderbird application from their own account and configure the mail client with their own profile. All users will be using the same Thunderbird application but with their own profiles. Yes, thats it. I tried this out and it seems to work now - didn't seem to work earlier because I didn't know what I was doing

    Another idea could be, if I really need to share one single profile, would be to follow Scotts advice and just set up a "Family account". Very simple solution. Nice idea.

    So, those are the two top solutions.

    Furthermore, I could use a mix of both strategies. For mail accounts that could be shared (family@mailserver.com) I could create a "Family account" in OSX, as Scott detailed above, and then for mail accounts that are for each individual user (user@mailserver.com), I could be sure they have separate profiles as detailed in Mulder's post.

    Thanks for all these helpful ideas!