Use Thunderbird Portable to mirror Gmail on pendrive

The two interfaces

An email server stores, receives and sends email on our behalf. Most of us manage our email accounts in one of two ways. Either via a web interface or via an email client. The advantage of accessing our email via a web interface as in Yahoo!, Hotmail, Gmail etc is that there is only one copy of our mail folders (so no problems with copies being out of sync) and mostly we preview everything before downloading.

Low bandwidth access

Because this form of access is so bandwidth friendly, webmail services such as Yahoo!, Hotmail, Gmail etc are able to offer us such accounts for free. Of course, these DO cost money to operate but the expense is defrayed by the fact that these sites gain traction and hence can benefit by offering account holders related products and services. At the very least, the high level of engagement generates a commensurate number of ad impressions.

High bandwidth access

The advantage of accessing our email account via an email client (POP/IMAP access) is that we can read and reply to our mail offline. This can help those who have time-based Internet access plans or those who have their own computer but no Internet access. Because an email client must synchronize mails offline, the process tends to be heavy on the bandwidth requirements and fundamentally inefficient because even unwanted mails and attachments get synchronized.

Yahoo! Mail

Though it IS possible to preview headers and synchronise only selected emails, most people do not bother using such features. This is the reason such bandwidth heavy access is usually a premium feature. For instance, Yahoo! Mail charges $20 per year for POP access.


Hotmail / Live Mail allows POP access but only via their recently introduced Windows Live Mail Desktop software. So in a sense, POP access is conditional but at least it is possible.


Gmail is the best service in this regard. Right from the time it was introduced, Gmail has offerred free POP access. We are free to use any email client and synchronize all we want without spending a dime.

Please note

In POP access, there is an option to leave a copy of the mails on the server. This option lets us decide whether we want to manage our email account via both the web interface and email client OR via only the email client.

Mirror folders

It makes sense to have both options open. So it is advisable to tick the option for leaving a copy of the mails on the server. This way when our email client synchronises mail, we essentially mirror the mail folders of our email account on our computer.

Portable Apps

Recently, thanks to the proliferation of USB pendrives, there has been a growing trend towards portable apps exemplified by the award winning site A portable app stores its configuration information in a local .ini file as opposed to storing it in the computer’s registry. This allows fully configured apps to be used in different computers (with different registries, obviously) because the configuration information is stored locally.


Mozilla, the creators of the hugely popular Firefox browser also provide us with a very decent email client called Thunderbird. Thanks to, we can enjoy the portable version of Mozilla Thunderbird. We can set this up on our USB pendrive and use it from any computer with a USB port and Net access, be it in an office or cyber cafe or at home.


To download the portable version of Mozilla Thunderbird, click here:

File size: 6.7MB (download), ~25MB (installed)


The setup instructions are available here:


After downloading and setting up Mozilla Thunderbird, we need to download the Webmail and Gmail extensions from:

As of now, the direct links are:

But please do not click on the above two direct links. Direct linking is something to be avoided. Besides, the versions of these extensions can change at any time. Instead, click here to download the said extensions:


After adding the above extensions, when we start Thunderbird Portable, the Create Account Wizard would greet us with the option of setting up a Gmail account, among others. All we need to do is to add our name and Gmail username and the account becomes ready for use. Of course, we can click on settings and customize it further.

POP Access

Please note that we need to ensure that POP access has been enabled in our Gmail account online. Click here for instructions.

Related links

Click Tips: Webmail back-up

Rob Freeman

Windows Live Mail Desktop

File size: 2.3MB (download)

Access Free Windows Live Hotmail in Outlook Express with IzyMail/FreePOPs

IzyMail – Forward Hotmail to Gmail



10 Responses to Use Thunderbird Portable to mirror Gmail on pendrive

  1. You can use Thunderbird Portable with GMail via IMAP. No extension required. And it’s more efficient than POP. All your email stays on the GMail server and is easy to move around and access via web or Thunderbird. Details here:

  2. netsolns says:

    Thanks for the info John. It is definitely a better way to go about things.

  3. liquidsnakemi says:

    The only problem with portableapps is that it must be used on a windows machine. I used to these applications but then I switched over to a macintosh computer. These applications will not work on either macintosh computers or linux computers

  4. netsolns says:

    Very true liquidsnakemi, so many blogs like this one are so used to the dominance of Windows, that we neglect Linux and MacOS in our thinking and in our posts. I am sure things would get better with time.

  5. hello says:

    hello, can i use internet with my 4 gb pendrive, for free,…? is thr any software…? that
    for eg: if v download 10MB net in our pendrive connecting internet, thn v can use this MB’s any-whr without net……..

  6. netsolns says:

    Do you want to carry an OS or just Windows apps.
    For the former, try

    Boot and run Linux from a USB flash memory stick
    Carry a portable Linux version with you on a USB flash pen drive. Easily bring your portable desktop with you wherever you go.

    For the latter, try
    Now you can carry your favorite computer programs along with all of your bookmarks, settings, email and more with you. Use them on any Windows computer. All without leaving any personal data behind.

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