Yahoo & Thunderbird Can Finally Play Nice?

Published on Monday, November 22, 2010
Tags: email, Mozilla, programming, Thunderbird, Yahoo

For years I’ve been dealing with Yahoo’s lack of support for any sort of decent (free) POP3/IMAP/SMTP protocol support. Why do I need this? So I can check my Yahoo mail in Mozilla Thunderbird of course!

At first I used YPOPS!, a program that read the HTML pages provided by the Yahoo webmail client and served the emails on a local POP server. Cool, right? Except it always broke whenever Yahoo changed their pages around.

After a bit I moved onto using the WebMail extension for Thunderbird. It essentially works the same way, but runs in the Thunderbird process as an extension instead of as a separate service. It’s a little complicated to set up and requires two extensions. The general WebMail extension and a Yahoo specific one (there’s also ones available for Hotmail, Gmail, Libero and AOL). You might wonder why this exists for some services that have always had POP/IMAP access (Gmail)? I was too, apparently some people cannot check those ports because of firewall issues so this essentially allows them to check it via port 80, over an HTTP connection.

A few months ago I came across post describing how a simple (nonstandard) command could allow access to the Yahoo IMAP server, but it required patching the Thunderbird source — not an option for me since I’ve been running nightlies of either Thunderbird 3.1 or 3.2/3.3 for a while now. (I mean sure, I could do it…but WebMail extension was working fine.) There was some discussion about it and a bug was filed for Thunderbird.

So how did this lead to free IMAP support? I noticed in the Weekly Status Meeting Notes (2010-11-16) for Thunderbird a mention of Free Email Providers page. Checking it out it said “Y! Mail is a free email service provided by Yahoo! It offers webmail supported by targeted advertising as well as IMAP access.” Hmm…but I just said they don’t have support this for free! A quick Bing search brought up a page with IMAP server settings. I figured I’d check if they work, and sure enough they did! The settings are copied below:

User user

Awesome! Anyway, I replied with this info in the aforementioned bug and a patch was quickly added by Mozilla’s Ben Bucksch to support this in Thunderbird, hopefully it’ll make it into the next version! It was also brought to my attention that provides an SSL certificate that is valid for only, I’d suggest using that former.

Note that I’m currently suffering from another bug while using Yahoo IMAP. Everything works, there’s just an annoying pop-up occasionally about the error. Hopefully it will be fixed soon.