Thunderbird addressbook entries not shown in autocomplete when composing new message

Posted on 2011-10-18
Last Modified: 2012-05-12
Hi, there's an bug in the autocomplete for TO field when searching address book, while composing new mail message.

If you write new message to let's say Peter Smith and you HAVE his contact in your address book with only the display name field populated (nothing entered in the First name and Last Name), you are required to type "Peter Sm" to see the address book entry in the autocomplete dropdown box. If you type just "Smith", the autocomplete doesn't find anything, even though you HAVE Peter Smith in your address book and the contact HAS the word Smith in the display name field.
Since people tend to remember the business contacts by Surname, not by whole name, this is really annoying.

Could someone help me with workaround or solution to this?
Question by:celazkon
    LVL 20

    Expert Comment

    It sounds like you already know what the workaround/solution to this is: Enter the first and last name separately in the First and Last boxes of the address book entry. (Actually, you just need the last name in its own field, since the first name will match using the display name.) Obviously, it's a nuisance to go back through all your address book entries and update them. I looked and don't see an add-on to do such a process automatically, and looking at the internals of my address book, I have no clue how you could do it using an editor with macro capabilities (i.e., the ability to write code to go through the whole book). Presumably the structure is documented, but it definitely looks like a nontrivial job to understand that and then figure out a reasonable algorithm to parse out the first and last names and put them into their respective fields.

    I don't think it's quite correct to call this a bug; it's a limitation, but it's WAD (working as designed). You can put in a feature request to Bugzilla ( asking that autocomplete index every word, but that would have a performance cost, so I don't know how eager people will be to put it in.
    LVL 7

    Accepted Solution

    Hi, thanks for your opinion.
    I know that when you enter the Last name into the field, then it works, but this is definitely not the way to go, since if you have in your addressbook more than 1500 contacts, you'll spend a week doin so.
    The problem is, if you add new contact to your addressbook from the incoming email message by right clicking on the sender and choosing add to contacts, it fills in only the display name, not the first and last name fields of the newly created contact.
    Luckily, found an easy workaround by using the addon called contacts sidebar. The search in the sidebar works fine and after finding contact you want to write new message to, you just double click on it.

    Anyway, thanks and have a nice day.

    Martin Svojsik
    LVL 7

    Author Closing Comment

    I found a workaround by myself
    LVL 20

    Expert Comment

    There are so many add-ons available that it can be a challenge to find the right one for your needs. I'm glad you found one that works well for you. Thanks for letting us know about it.

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