How to Make Thunderbird Chat Work with Most XMPP/Jabber Accounts

I really like how Thunderbird 15.0 has build in support for populate chat services like Google Talk, Twitter, and XMPP (aka Jabber).

What I don’t like is that Thunderbird’s support for these is minimal, and when things don’t work it is almost impossible to figure out why.

Here are two issues I ran into and their solution.

Jabber/XMPP Accounts seems stuck on “Connecting”

Before you assume that you ran to the issues I did, try port 5223 rather than port 5222. Port 5223 is the old school “secure” port for XMPP/Jabber. The more modern way is that port 5222 is used, but the server then negotiates a secure connection.

For me the root cause turned out to be a special feature in how XMPP looks up servers. If a company doesn’t want to open a port on their main server (for example they can add a special internet name lookup (DNS Record) saying “my jabber server is really over on the other server). These kind of records are called DNS SRV records.

Most XMPP clients do this for you automatically, but Thunderbird 15.0 doesn’t do this, fortunately, you can do the same look up yourself and then tell Thunderbird to user the other server instead.

How to Lookup the Actual XMPP Server for an Account

Instead of running command line tools, some helpful souls haven put together online tools to find your XMPP server, so that’s what we’ll us:

  1. Open your web browser to
  2. In the text field under Check DNS SRV records for XMPP, enter the part of your XMPP/Jabber account that happens after the @.
  3. Click on the Check button.

  4. If the results say “ERROR”, then the problem you are having is not due to the SRV record feature, but something else.
  5. In the Client records for section of the results, locate the Target column, and copy the value immediately under it.
  6. Go back to Thunderbird, choose Tools->Account Settings…”, click on your XMPP account in the left hand ride, and then paste into the Server field.
  7. Click on OK to close the preferences window.

How to Fix when You Connect and then are Immediately Disconnected from the XMPP Server

Once I had done the previous steps to fix server lookup, I immediately found that my account was immediately disconnected.

After verifying the username and password, I did some investigation and determined that my XMPP/Jabber server has an “invalid” SSL certificate. You may be wondering how a server might have an invalid certificate? The answer is that valid certificates cost money and require a unique internet address for the server. If you are using a free service from a small company, or even an internal server, odds are good that they won’t be springing for an officially signed SSL certificate any time soon.

All is not lost though, you can tell Thunderbird that you trust the server, and that Thunderbird should also.

Here’s how:

  1. In Thunderbird open the Preferences windows.
  2. Click on the Advanced tab.
  3. Click on the Certificates section.
  4. Click on View Certificates.
  5. Click on the Servers tab.
  6. Click on Add Exception….
  7. In the Location: field, delete https:// and enter the server name you looked up the SRV section above. If you got an ERROR when looking up the SRV record, enter the part of your XMPP/Jabber account that happens after the @.
  8. After the server name enter :5222. Be sure and include the colon (:).
  9. Click on Get Certificate
  10. Make sure Permanently Store this Exception is checked.
  11. Click on Confirm this Exception.
  12. Click on OK.

Good Luck

With any luck you will now be able able to connect to your Jabber/XMPP server.

Please suggest improvements to these directions in the comments.