... making kittens cry since 2001

Running Mozilla Thunderbird As A Windows Service 2009-03-18

This is a condensed version of the post I made back in 2009. I think I still occasionally get some hits on this one so I figure it is worth adding it to the new site.

image Mozilla Thunderbird Screenshot c/o

In short, there are some people who actually want to run Thunderbird as a service for whatever reason. It isn't really designed to run that way, but it can be useful for some automated email tasks that some people might want to perform. To do it you need INSTSRV.EXE and SRVANY.EXE which you can get from the Windows Resource Kit (11.8MB) or you can download just the two required files from me here (21kB). [gpg sig] [gpg key 339CC7FC]

  • Put both files in your WINDOWS\SYSTEM32 directory
  • Open a DOS Prompt and type


  • Next, open the registry editor and navigate to


  • Add a new key named


  • Now highlight the new Parameters key, and inside it, create a new string called


  • Give the new string a value of

    C:\Program Files\Thunderbird\Thunderbird.exe

  • Now close up regedit and start the service (either by the MMC applet or by rebooting)

Now in the case of Thunderbird, you have to run it as a particular user account rather than just the SYSTEM account. This means you have to run Thunderbird at least once as a regular user and set it up the way you want it. Then go to the Services MMC applet (found under Administrative Tools) and set that name and password for that user. There are some other things you can set here as well, like the ability for it to interact with the desktop session etc.

One of the reasons I found this to be kind of cool is because you can setup a dummy email address and have Thunderbird constantly checking it. Then if you throw in the Thunderbird plugin Attachment Extractor, you can have a setup where you just email yourself attachments and they will automatically be saved to a particular directory. Now I just need to find a use for this.

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