Step by step solutions to IT problems

Get Thunderbird to hangup on exit

If you are used to Outlook Express and Internet Explorer asking you if you want to Stay Connected whenever you exit the application then you may be frustrated that Mozilla Thunderbird (and Firefox) don't do the same. We explain how to get a Disconnect prompt whenever you exit Thunderbird or Firefox.

It should be no suprise that Microsoft software integrates better with dialup connections than anyone elses software, they did write windows after all. Even the dialup dialogs you get when using Outlook Express or Internet Explorer are different to the ones Windows displays for any other software.

One has a Work Offline button the other just has a cancel button. So whereas Outlook Express will know you are working offline, Thunderbird will just display an error message saying it can't connect to your mailserver as it doesn't know you want to work offline.

If you just want to write a new message, or reply to an existing message before going online you need to get Thunderbird to not check for new mail when it starts, because if you click the cancel button on the dialup window when Thunderbird tries to check for new messages, it will not re-display the dialup window again until you close Thunderbird and restart it. Thankfully there are two simple settings that will stop Thunderbird from checking for new messages until you are ready.

From Thunderbirds menu click on Tools then Account Settings and then click on Server Settings. Make sure the Check for new messages at startup and Check for new messages ever 10 minutes are unticked. Then click the OK button to save the settings and close the dialog window.

Now Thunderbird will let you read your old messages, and compose new messages without giving you a dialup prompt, and to send and receive new messages just click on the big Get Mail button on the left of Thunderbirds toolbar.

In order to get Thunderbird to prompt you to hangup the dialup connection when it exits, there are two solutions.

  • Re-write Thunderbird with better integration with dialup networking
  • Use a script to start Thunderbird and prompt the user to hangup once Thunderbird exits.

I chose the second option which is much simpler to implement. I use vb script to launch Thunderbird, wait for it to exit and then run a small (6k) app to prompt the user to hangup (if there is still a dialup connection). All of the files you need (including source code) are zipped up in The script and app have been tested on Windows 98 SE and Windows XP Home SP2.

Extract all of the files into your Thunderbird directory C:\Program Files\Mozilla Thunderbird and then edit the desktop and quicklaunch shortcuts to point to hangup.vbs instead of thunderbird.exe by right clicking on the thunderbird icon and selecting properties

Now whenever you use Thunderbird, if you dialup to send and receive mail, then when you close Thunderbird, you will be asked if you want to Stay Connected or Hangup.

It will only hangup your default dialup connection, so make sure that the connection you use to dialup is marked as the default connection in the Connections Tab of your Internet Options (found in your Windows Control Panel). If it's not the default connection, then highlight it, and click the Set Default button.

Whilst the hangup dialog isn't exactly the same as the one Outlook Express uses, the meanings of the buttons is the same, the left button leaves you connected, and the right button disconnects you.

You can also use the script to hangup after firefox or mozilla, simply by editing the hangup.vbs script and copying it to the other applications propgram folder.

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