Mozilla Thunderbird authentication failure with Gmail

Even the latest version of Thunderbird mail, present by default in Ubuntu 19.10 Eoan Ermine is distributed with bug that prevents this linux flagship mail app from connecting to Gmail account successfully.

When setting up IMAP connection with 2-Step Verification turned On it initially goes through all the authentication process and finally crashes with Authentication Failure.

Fortunately there is nice and easy solution!

Open Thunderbird Menu and go to Preferences > Advanced > Config Editor…

Thunderbird Preferences

Search for ‘general.useragent.compatMode.firefox‘ and set it’s value to be ‘true‘.

Config Editor

Now try to establish connection to your Gmail account again and it should go through with no problems.

I’m not sure if it is Ubuntu’s Thunderbird distributed application problem, Mozilla’s problem or Gmail issue. Also can’t say how many users might be affected, but I think this is quite essential and either Ubuntu, Mozilla or Google should not let it like this.

4 replies on “Mozilla Thunderbird authentication failure with Gmail”

Went through this and changed the general.useragent. compat……. as shown above , but am still getting crashes. When i open Thunderbird It tells me connection failed for my email, then asks for password again. which i enter and try again. only to get into loop of entering the password again and failing again. I have had to resort to using googlemail ( gmail) to get my email. and the format is so much different than Thunderbird that i spend a lot of time trying to find the messages etc. I have used Thunderbird forever. since Mozilla came up with it. know how to use it to my needs, ( not an expert) and having to resort to using google to ope int email is frustrating.
We had local IT guys change us to a “business” version of Google to host our email. so it works very easily on gmail. but for some reason, about a month or 2 ago, Thunderbird started crashing all of a sudden. I don’t doubt that Google is trying to screw with thunderbird, but our email doesn’t use the we use our company name for the .com. Any helpful suggestions would be appreciated. I may have to ditch the local guys and go back to using someone else to handle the email. I had used network solutions forever, until it got all screwed up a couple of years ago.

What is the 2 step authentication process? In past the computer remembered the password whenit signed on to email, is there another step or setting i need to change. I think I am using ubuntu 18.04+ , which upgraded from 16.04 quite some time ago. Do I need to install another update. or delete Thunderbird and try a new install. Although i have screen showing bionic beaver Am i really using ubuntu18 or still using 16? Is ubuntu 19 a smart upgrade for a person that is not a programming type? i just like using ubuntu more than windows. it has more than i need for business use. Thunderbird crashed some time in November on one of my trips to Vietnam on business. I thought it was some type of update of the ubuntu software that perhaps caused the problem. Because i did allow the update to go through. and ubuntu keeps checking for updates quite often.

Hello David,

2 step authentication process is feature on Google accounts increasing security which is recommended to be turned on to keep your account safe. Basically it means that apart of Username and Password you were normally using to connect to your Google account and Gmail, now you have to also approve the login from particular device either from your other device already logged in with Google account or through the unique one-time code sent by Google to your registered phone number.

I don’t know if you have 2 step authentication turned on, you have to check on – Signing in to Google.

To check which version of ubuntu are you actually using, just type into your terminal: uname -a

It should tell you exactly which version you are running, or there’s also lot of info available about installed system version in: /etc/os-release (you can get that info by typing into your terminal: cat /etc/os-release).

I don’t have too much experience with ubuntu, me personally I prefer using Debian because I consider Debian more clear, little more conservative but highly secured, straightforward and free of some ubuntu bulky staff. Anyway ubuntu is based on Debian so it is takes similar approach in many ways.

For you I think there’s a little point to upgrade to 19.10, I would stick to 18.04 which is LTS, probably more polished and stable.

For automatic updates, in contra what some other people say I think it’s better to keep them off, I just don’t like when my system is updating automatically maybe at the time when it’s really not appropriate to do so. So I’m just updating manually by my self, at the time when I want to.

Why your Thunderbird is crashing, hard to say, the solution in my initial post work for me and confirmed with many others, just fine. For me it sorted out the problem with authentication loop successfully. Does your Thunderbird give any error messages or so? Are you able to log in to your Gmail through Google website without problems? Try to make sure you are running latest Thunderbird version available, also reinstalling Thunderbird could help.

So, good luck with Thunderbird and have good day…

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