Firefox Translate Is Coming to Thunderbird Mail


Translate emails locally, no cloud interaction required.

Mozilla Thunderbird logo
Corbin Davenport / Mozilla

The recent Firefox 118 release introduced us to Fullpage Translation, a tool that automatically translates webpages to your native language without the use of external servers. This privacy-focused solution to web translation is now a “development priority” for Thunderbird, Mozilla’s email software. Firefox translations in Thunderbird should arrive in Q1 2024.

Several Thunderbird users requested this feature after the launch of Firefox 118. The idea is pretty simple—if you regularly receive emails in a language that you don’t speak (or that you aren’t fluent in), there’s a decent chance that the emails pertain to business, IT, or other sensitive topics. Instead of copy-pasting those emails into Google Translate or another server-based solution, you can translate their contents locally within Thunderbird. More privacy, more convenience.

As noted by Mozilla, you can copy email text into Firefox for local translation, and you can always open your email service (Gmail, Yahoo, etc) in the Firefox browser for local text translation. There’s also a web translate add-on for the Thunderbird client, though this add-on uses cloud services like Google Translate and provides no benefit to user privacy. If you need to translate emails today, there are plenty of options, but you’ll have to wait until 2024 for local translations within the Thunderbird client.

In case you missed it, Thunderbird is experiencing a bit of a revival. The long-neglected email client now has an updated UI, a new logo, and several new features. Thunderbird enjoyed extreme popularity during its heyday, and the addition of privacy-focused features like local language translation is giving it a new lease on life. Plus, it isn’t stuffed with questionable AI features. If you’re a former Thunderbird user, or if you’re dissatisfied with clients like Outlook or Apple Mail, install Thunderbird and give it a spin. Note that a Thunderbird mobile app (which is based on K-9 Mail) is still in the works.

For additional information on Firefox translations in Thunderbird, check the Bugzilla report. The process of integrating this functionality with Thunderbird is still a bit unclear, so if you don’t find what you’re looking for in Bugzilla, be patient.

Source: Mozilla (Mastodon, Bugzilla)

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