How to add Do Not Track to Thunderbird (and why you should)

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In this modern age, it’s growing harder and harder to prevent being tracked online. Most often this is used to better target you for advertising. That alone, for many, is an invasion of privacy. Because of that, several types of software have adopted Do Not Track (DNT).

In web browsers, for example, this setting automatically requests that web applications disable tracking for users. Not all web browsers enable that setting by default, but users can always switch it on.

Once enabled, the browser will send the Do Not Track request to websites, analytics companies, ad networks, plug-in providers, and any other service or application that attempts to track your activity.

That option isn’t just available to web browsers. Most modern websites, analytics companies, ad networks, plug-in providers, email clients have the ability to render HTML content within emails. Because of this, third parties can track you when your email client renders that HTML email.

Again, an invasion of privacy.

Some email clients include a DNT feature. Such is the case with my favorite email client, Thunderbird. I want to show you how to enable DNT on Thunderbird so you can prevent those third-party organizations from tracking you via your email.

How to add Do Not Track to Thunderbird (and why you should)


The only thing you’ll need to make this work is a running instance of the Thunderbird email client. Thunderbird is supported on Linux, MacOS, and Windows, and it doesn’t matter which operating system you use, as the feature is the same across all platforms. I’ll be demonstrating on Thunderbird version 102.5.0, running on Pop!_OS Linux.

With that said, let’s get this feature enabled.

1. Open Thunderbird and access the menu

Open your Thunderbird email client and click the three-horizontal-line menu button in the top right corner of the main window.

2. Open Settings

From the pop-up menu, click Settings.

3. Enable DNT

In the Privacy & Security section, under Web Content, click the checkbox for Send websites a “Do Not Track” signal that you don’t want to be tracked.

Once you’ve done that, you can close the settings window and trust that Thunderbird is sending the DNT request.

Another handy tip

By default, Thunderbird is configured not to display remote content (HTML email). I would highly recommend you keep that setting as is and only allow Thunderbird to show remote content for emails from people or companies you can absolutely trust.

Even then (especially with HTML email from business), unless you have DNT enabled, the likelihood of you being tracked is high. In other words, enable DNT or your privacy is at risk.

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