Codename/Mozilla: Mail: Get Message Behavior

UI Proposal

Get Message & Check for new mail at Startup

Last Modification: 

Author: Jennifer Glick
Creation Date: 5 January 2001 

Status: Mostly Complete


     Check for new mail at Startup
     "Get Msg" Button Behavior
     "File" Menu
     Context Menu for Folder Pane
     Fetching Mail
     BIFF When Not Logged into Account

Feature Team



 Scott Putterman, Bhuvan Racham

Marketing Lead

 Kevin Murray


 Ninoschka Baca


 Robin Foster Clark


 Jennifer Glick

Open Issues

  1. Change "Get Msg" and "New Msg" to "Get Msgs" and "Compose"?
  2. Netscape only.  Are AOL and Netscape WebMail accounts special cases in which the pref setting for "Log in to this account at startup" is turned on by default.?  Depends on Bugscape 2978 (if AOL and WebMail accounts can be assessed at the same time as an ISP account).


Related Bugs

  1. 14301 - UI: missing Log in to this account at startup setting. nsbeta1+.
  2. 37559- Prefs dialog: add Get Msg options and descriptive text. nsbeta1+.
  3. 50865 - Unclear and Unreadable Button Labels.

1. Check for new mail at Startup

  1. In the Mail/News Account Settings: Server screen for IMAP and POP accounts, there will be a preference for each account to "Check for new mail at startup". This checks for new mail, instead of getting new mail.
  2. When the option is checked, biff is enabled to check for new mail. For IMAP accounts, message headers are loaded and biff icons are shown.  For POP accounts, biff icons are shown if new messages are on the server, but headers are not loaded. New messages on POP accounts are not downloaded until "Get Msg" is selected. 
  3. The default account (the account setup first or the account migrated first or an existing default account from a build prior to this feature being implemented) will have the setting turned on by default (IMAP and POP).  Additional accounts set up will have this setting turned off by default.  If a user changes the default account, we do not change the state of the "Check for new mail at startup" preference. 
  4. When Mail starts, it will attempt to check for new mail for the default account, plus any additional accounts for which the user has turned on the preference, displaying a password dialog for authentication (for each account) as necessary. Hence, multiple password dialogs may open when mail is started. Users can choose to use Password Manager if they desire. 
  5. At startup, the default account is expanded and the Inbox selected.  If the "Check for new mail at startup" preference has been turned off, the Account Level is selected instead of the Inbox.
  6. There is no "Remember my password" option in Account Settings. Users must use the Password Manager feature from the Password Dialog.
  7. Once authenticated, new messages are retrieved either:
    • automatically according to the biff settings for the account
    • using the "Get Message" feature described below

2 - "Get Msg" Button Behavior

  1. After Mail starts, the user can retrieve new messages by using the "Get Msg" button on the toolbar or menu items (in addition to automatic biff settings).
  2. Clicking on the "Get Msg" toolbar button will retrieve messages for the selected Mail account or newsgroup only.
  3. There is NOT a preference for changing the default behavior of "Get Msg" button.
  4. To the right of the "Get Msg" toolbar button is a dropdown menu widget.
  5. Clicking the "Get Msg" dropdown menu displays a drop down menu with the following items:
    • "Get All New Messages" (retrieves messages for all MAIL accounts to which the user is currently authenticated).
    • Separator Line
    • "<acct1>" (Mail retrieved for this account only. Prompted for password as necessary).
    • "<acct2>"
    • "<acct3>"
    • etc.
  6. When a MAIL account is selected, the "Get Msg" dropdown menu only shows MAIL accounts, not News accounts.  (You don't get messages from a news account, you get them from a newsgroup. Showing all the newsgroups a user is subscribed to in the menu would make it very long.)
  7. When a NEWSGROUP is selected, the "Get Msg" dropdown menu shows Mail accounts and the currently selected newsgroup.
  8. If user selects an account for which they are not currently logged onto, and clicks "Get Msg", they are prompted with a password dialog.
  9. If a Newsgroup is selected,  the "Get Msg" button retrieves new messages for the selected newsgroup only.
  10. If a Newsgroup is selected, the "Get All News Messages" menu items gets messages for the selected newsgroup and all the Mail accounts to which the user is currently authenticated.
  11. If a Newsgroup is selected and a Mail account is selected from the "Get Msg" dropdown, then messages are retrieved for both the newsgroup and the mail account. Focus will remain on the newsgroup.
  12. If a News Server is selected, the "Get Msg" button updates message counts.
  13. If "Local Folders" (or one if the folders themselves) or an Imported Account or Nothing is selected, the "Get Msg" button will retrieve messages for the default mail account.
  14. Some scenarios: User has 3 mail accounts and 1 news account. Only <acct1> (Default) and <acct2> are set to logon at startup:
    • If <acct1> is selected in the folder pane, clicking on the "Get Msg" button will retrieve messages for <acct1> only and the focus will remain on <acct1>.
    • If <acct1> is selected in the folder pane and <acct2> is selected from the "Get Msg" dropdown then messages are retrieved for <acct2> only and focus remains on <acct1>. In general, focus remains on the account selected.
    • If <acct3> is selected, and is not currently authenticated, then selecting the "Get Msg" button will display a password dialog. When the user enters their password and is authenticated then the messages for <acct3> are retrieved and focus will remain on <acct3>.
    • Now <acct1>, <acct2> and <acct3> are all authenticated. User selects "Get all new messages" option from dropdown menu and retrieves messages for all mail accounts.
    • User exits and restarts Mail. <acct1> and <acct2> are the only accounts that have the "Logon to account at startup" preference selected. Mail will try to authenticate these two accounts only. User selects "Get all new messages", mail is retrieved for <acct1> and <acct2>.
    • User selects a newsgroup and selects "Get all new messages". Messages are retrieved for the selected newsgroup plus any mail accounts to which the user is currently authenticated.


3 - The "File" Menu

  1. When a Mail account has focus, the File menu has:
    •  "Get New Messages  --- Ctrl+T " (performs the same action as the "Get Msg" toolbar button).
    • "Get New Messages for --->"
                                                   "Get All New Messages --- Ctrl+Shift+T "
  2. When a Newsgroup has focus, the File menu has the menu items above (#1) plus "Get Next X Messages" and "Update Message Count".
  3. Menu items should work the same as their counter parts in section 2 above.
  4. If a News server is selected, "Get New Messages" is disabled.


4 - Context Menu for Folder Pane

  1. If a Mail Account,  Inbox or Newsgroup is selected "Get New Messages" appears in the context menu.
  2. If a News server is selected, "Update Message Counts" appears in the context menu?


5 - Fetching Mail

  1. IMAP. When the user first starts up Mail and clicks on the Inbox, mail is automatically retrieved from the server (Password dialog as necessary).
  2. POP.  In 4.x,  a user authenticates to a server but still has to click "Get Msg" to initially receive their mail.  In this release, if a user has the "Log in to account at startup" pref set for an account, we will automatically fetch new messages once they authenticate to the server.


6 - BIFF When Not Logged into Account

The next release will add the feature of BIFF running when the user is not logged into an account (only works if the user's password has been saved).  This feature is only available for those accounts that have the "Log in to this account at startup" preference turned on (for which the password is saved).

Note: BIFF is turned on by default for IMAP and POP accounts and off for News accounts.



  1. "Log in to this account at startup" is the correct wording.
  2. Do we want a pref for setting what "Get all new messages" does?  Either gets mail for currently authenticated accounts (default) or attempts to get mail for all accounts (opening Password dialogs as necessary)?  Issues Meeting 1/12/01.


Future Ideas

  1. Advanced users could use the Ctrl key to select TWO accounts and then click the "Get Msg" button. Mail for both accounts is retrieved.  Thread pane is empty until only ONE account is selected.