HOWTO: hide address-book status icons in Thunderbird 3.x

I just updated to the latest version of Thunderbird, 3.1.7. There’s lots to like in this release compared to the archaic I was using before. Unfortunately, it also includes one feature that I really dislike: the address-book status icon. This is where Thunderbird puts a star next to each email address in the message header:

Address-book status icons in Thunderbird 3.x on Linux

I have three complaints about this “improvement”:

  1. I don’t really care if the email is in my address book. Don’t force me to deal with information that I’m not interested in.
  2. The icons are very distracting — one by itself might be alright, but a cluster of them, in bright yellow, just outside the area of visual focus (the message body) continually pulls my eye away from what I’m trying to do.
  3. It looks like my 7 year old daughter ran amok with a sheet of foil star stickers. There’s a time and a place for that kind of thing, and my mail reader is not it.

After far more research and experimentation than I care to admit (including downloading and searching the Thunderbird source code!), I figured out how to disable the address-book status icon in Thunderbird 3.x. Here’s the result:

Hidden address-book status icons

How to hide address-book status icons in Thunderbird 3.x

To hide address-book status icons in Thunderbird, you need to add the following code to your userChrome.css:

.emailStar {
  width: 0em;

userChrome.css lives in a chrome subdirectory of your Thunderbird profile directory. If you don’t already have a userChrome.css, just create one with the above contents.

After updating userChrome.css you’ll have to restart Thunderbird to see the change. Enjoy your newly uncluttered Thunderbird UI!

One thought on “HOWTO: hide address-book status icons in Thunderbird 3.x

  1. Thanks! The whole star thing makes no sense to me.
    Maybe in the US you stick stars on things or something?
    There is also the “Starred” column displayed by default for messages.
    Who knows what happens when you “star” a message, but at least
    it’s easy to hide that column.

    Hang on, there is a [★ like] button below your post 🙂
    I’m guessing this state is stored per post not per user

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