How to Configure Outlook-style Email Reply Header in Thunderbird

Thunderbird’s email reply header is short and not like the ones in Outlook and other email lients. Thunderbird provides several integrated reply headers. However, the Outlook-style reply header with sender, receiver, date, and other information are clear and useful (e.g. my boss cc’ed an email to me to let me handle a request and I can simply find out the requester’s email from the email’s reply header) and asked for under some situations (e.g. the financial office asks for the corresponding emails with these email reply headers for reimbursement).

I do not find an easy way to configure Thunderbird to generate Outlook-style email reply headers. However, a plugin named “Change quote and reply format” for Thunderbird generates the header for me quit well.

The “change quote and reply format” plugin

You can download it from the homepage of the change quote and reply format plugin. After downloading it, you can install it by the “Install add-ons from files” function in Thunderbird’s “Add-ons manager”

Use the pre-configured reply header style

The plugin has a pre-configured reply header style. It is good for common usage.


Configuring your own reply header style


In the configuration dialog, you can configure the style that you like as the one in the figure “Thunderbird Change Quote Reply Format to Outlook-like style”.

Here is my preferred email reply header in my Thunderbird.

----------------- Original Message -----------------
From: %%1
Date: %%5
To: %%2
{{Cc: %%3}}
Subject: %%4

Here is a list of all syntax from the plugin’s ‘help’ tab in its configuration dialog.


%%1 = author 
%%2 = recipients 
%%3 = recipients (CC)
%%4 = subject
%%5 = date 
%%6 = author (name only) 
%%7 = author (address only)

The parts enclosed between {{ and }} are displayed
just if the header inside is not null.
This means that a header with

To : %%2{{ and %%3}} 

will give

To : (if CC is null)
To : and (if CC is


%d = day of the month, 2 digits ("01" to "31")
%D = day of the week, textual, english, 3 letters ("Fri")
%m = month ("01" to "12")
%M = month, textual, english, 3 letters ("Jan")
%y = year, 2 digits ("99")
%Y = year, 4 digits ("1999")
%i = minutes ("00" to "59")
%s = seconds ("00" to "59")
%H = hour, 24-hour format ("00" to "23")
%h = hour, 12-hour format ("01" to "12")
%A = "AM" or "PM"
%a = "am" or "pm"

Eric Z Ma

Eric is a father and systems guy. Eric is interested in building high-performance and scalable distributed systems and related technologies. The views or opinions expressed here are solely Eric's own and do not necessarily represent those of any third parties.


  1. Given Thunderbird’s dearth of echoed header data in its email replies, this Add-On is nearly essential for businesses that use the Thunderbird email program.

    Thank you Eric! If you are ever in the USA, Bamboo Baits has a free fishing lure for you.

  2. Eric,
    The “change quote and reply format” extension seems to have stopped working with a recent Thunderbird update. Do you know if this plugin still works for you?

  3. Thanks Eric for all your tips. Good stuff. Now is there a way to align all the text in the reply header, i.e. kind of using a tabulator after the colon? That would make the header look really sharp.

    1. Glad to know you like it.

      That’s a good idea! I tried and it works. The only trick is to copy and paste a tabulator from some editors that can accept tabulator input to the plugin’s preference dialog instead of inputting it directly. It seems the Tab is caught by the WM or Thunderbird (I am not sure which one or some other one does this) as a control key action.

      The effect is as follows by using a tabulator instead of spaces for each of the fields except the the “Subject” in the customized reply header :

      There is only a space instead of a tabulator for “Subject”. To align the Subject too, two tabulators will be needed in other fields as “Subject” is long. That looks not as good as this one for me.

      Another closest method I can think about may be to add additional spaces after the colon. This will only look good with monospace fonts.

  4. Eric, I just installed the add-on. It works great; thank you! Is there a way to make the line headings (To, From, etc.) a bold-face font? I tried to do this by creating it in Word, then copying and pasting it into the add-on, but it did not work. If you know a way to do this, that would be a nice touch. Thanks!

  5. What is the syntax for using codes like %Y when formatting the date %%5?
    %%5 … … %Y-%m-%d . %H:%i:%s

    %%5 = date

    %d = day of the month, 2 digits (“01” to “31”)
    %m = month (“01” to “12”)
    %Y = year, 4 digits (“1999”)
    %i = minutes (“00” to “59”)
    %s = seconds (“00” to “59”)
    %H = hour, 24-hour format (“00” to “23”)

    Thanks, in advance,

    1. Sorry, disregard my question: Now I saw the date format option in the window showed in post
      by Eric Zhiqiang Ma @ericzma, Jul 23, 2015 at 1:30 pm.


  6. Sadly, the latest version, 0.8.7, seems to be broken on Thunderbird release version 45.0. THe reply headers are correct but when you reply or reply all, the TO, CC etc. fields are not filled in. Equally, when you try to post in a newsgroup, the Newsgroup field is blank and has to be filled in manually.

      1. Thanks. Yes, that update just appeared yesterday after I emailed kaosmos about the problem (although I have no proof that that was what prompted him to update), and it has fixed it.

  7. A style that looks nice for me:

    —– Original Message —–
    From: %%1
    Sent: %%5
    To: %%2
    {{Cc: %%3}}
    Subject: %%4

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