Enigmail Quickstart Guide

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Chapter 1. Before You Begin

Table of Contents

This Quick Start Guide
The Enigmail Mailing List
The GNU Privacy Guard
Installing GnuPG on Unusual Systems
Installing GnuPG on Microsoft Windows
Installing GnuPG on Macintosh OS X
Installing GnuPG on UNIX
Thunderbird 2.0
Enigmail
Downloading Enigmail
Installing Enigmail
Uninstalling Enigmail

There is nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of success, more dangerous to manage, than the creation of a new system.

--Niccolo Machiavelli

Software hardly ever exists in isolation. Even something as simple as the solitaire game you got for free with your operating system depends on other pieces of software. In the case of your solitaire game, it depends on the operating system. In the case of Enigmail, it depends on a few pieces more than that. This chapter will help you make sure you have all the things Enigmail depends upon, and if not, where you can get them.

Please Read This Carefully

Please read this chapter carefully and do not skip steps. When people come on the mailing lists and say "Enigmail isn't working", the overwhelming majority of the time it's because they do not have Enigmail, Thunderbird and/or GnuPG properly installed.

This Quick Start Guide

Murphy's Law being what it is, a network will always die as soon as you need to look something up online. You can defend against Murphy by downloading this manual to your own local computer.

If you're reading this manual online, please visit the Enigmail Project's Documentation Page. This manual is available in many different formats. Choose whichever one is most convenient for you. The content is the same regardless of which you choose.

The Enigmail Mailing List

This is only a Quick Start Guide. You will probably have questions that are not addressed here. You may want to join the mailing lists or browse in the web forums. If things go wrong, you can usually get answers very quickly from either place.

The GNU Privacy Guard

Enigmail uses the freely-available GNU Privacy Guard to do most of its work. The GNU Privacy Guard (usually abbreviated GnuPG) is available for many different operating systems, including Windows, OS X, UNIX, OS/2, OpenVMS and more.

Installing GnuPG on Unusual Systems

This manual only covers installing GnuPG for Windows and OS X, and provides some guidance for UNIX. Other, less-common operating systems will not be covered here. If you're using one of these rare operating systems, please ask for installation help on the mailing list or in the forum.

Installing GnuPG on Microsoft Windows

Downloading the Installer

Windows installers of GnuPG 2.0 are available from Gpg4win, a sibling project to GnuPG. This is the recommended installer for Enigmail.

The older 1.4 branch of GnuPG is still fully maintained, binary installers for Windows are kept on the FTP-Server - download the newest (e.g. 1.4.12).

If only GnuPG 1.4 is installed, Enigmail itself can cache one passphrase (only). If GnuPG 2.0 is used by Engimail, GnuPG always handles passphrases itself (using its own dialog to prompt for passphrases and background processes being able to cache multiple passphrases for different keys and purposes). This is why we recommend to use GnuPG 2.0.

Both 2.0 and 1.4 may even be installed alongside although we recommend not to do so.

Installing GnuPG

Once you've downloaded the installer, just double-click it to begin the installation process. It's a very straightforward installer; you can literally just keep clicking "Next" until it's finished and you'll do just fine. However, the only thing Enigmail needs from it is the main component GnuPG, everything else is not used by Enigmail.

Installing GnuPG on Macintosh OS X

You have three basic ways to install GnuPG on OS X. Most users will choose the first option.

MacGPG

The MacGPG project provides pre-built Universal Binaries of GnuPG 1.4 for users running OS X 10.4 (also called "Tiger"). If you are running OS X 10.3 or earlier, you will not be able to use the MacGPG packages.[1]

Assuming you're running OS X 10.4 or later, just download the package and install it as you would any other piece of OS X software.

Fink

The Fink Project[2] keeps a very current version of GnuPG in their source tree. If you're using Fink, installing GnuPG is as simple as typing fink install gnupg into Terminal.app.

MacPorts

The MacPorts Project, formerly called "DarwinPorts", keeps a current version of GnuPG in their source tree. If you're using MacPorts, open up Terminal.app and type sudo port install gnupg.

Installing GnuPG on UNIX

Unfortunately, here my remarks have to be very brief. Your best bet is to talk to your UNIX vendor and get a version of GnuPG that's already been compiled for your system. Compiling GnuPG from source is not advised for beginners.

Installing GnuPG on Linux

Most Linux distributions today include GnuPG by default. To find out if this is the case, get to a command prompt and type gpg --version. If it tells you that you've got GnuPG 1.4 (or some later version), then you don't need to do anything: it's already there.

Installing GnuPG on *BSD

The various flavors of BSD UNIX have a common way of installing software. Please see the instructions for MacPorts, above.

Thunderbird 2.0

Once GnuPG is installed on your system, the next order of business is to get Thunderbird 2.0. Thunderbird is an email client; it allows you to talk to your mail server, allows you to read email, allows you to write it, allows you to filter it, all the things you expect an email client to do.

Thunderbird has excellent installation instructions. For that reason, we're just going to continue on with the last piece of software you need.

Thunderbird on Linux

Many Linux distributions ship with their own customized version of Thunderbird. If you use your distribution's version of Thunderbird, you must use your distribution's version of Enigmail. If you get Thunderbird from the official site and install it yourself, though, you can use the official Enigmail releases provided by the Enigmail Project.

Enigmail

Enigmail is a plug-in for Thunderbird that lets Thunderbird interface seamlessly with GnuPG. You can always find the latest version at Enigmail's downloads page. As of this writing the latest version is 0.95.5.

Downloading Enigmail

Download the latest version of Enigmail for your operating system.

Firefox Users:

Thunderbird and Firefox both use the .XPI extension for their plug-ins. If you click on the download link, Firefox will think you're asking it to install Enigmail as a Firefox plug-in. This will not work. Instead, right-click on the link and choose "Save link as...".

Installing Enigmail

Start Thunderbird. In the menu bar of the main window you will see "Tools". Select this, and then "Add-ons". This will bring up a new window listing all of your Thunderbird plug-ins. In the lower left-hand corner of this new window you'll see a button marked "Install". Click this button. Tell Thunderbird where you saved the Enigmail .XPI file.


The Thunderbird Add-Ons Manager with Enigmail installed
The Thunderbird Add-Ons Manager with Enigmail installed

Another window will pop open, warning that you're about to install a plug-in. You haven't done anything wrong. Thunderbird is just giving you the chance to back out before installing a plug-in. Confirm your decision.

Once installed, you will need to restart Thunderbird. Once you do that, Enigmail will be ready to go.

Uninstalling Enigmail

If for some reason you ever need to uninstall Enigmail, begin by starting Thunderbird. Select "Tools", then "Add-ons". A new window will appear showing all of your Thunderbird plug-ins. Click on "Enigmail" and then click "Uninstall".

Enigmail will be uninstalled once you close Thunderbird.



[1] This isn't quite true. They do have older versions of GnuPG packaged for older versions of OS X. However, since Enigmail depends on GnuPG 1.4.9 or later, older versions of GnuPG won't do you any good.

[2] "Fink" is German for "finch", as in the type of bird. The original developer of Fink was a German, and his name for it has stuck.



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