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Get Started with Enigmail

Get started with Enigmail

Learn how to install and use Enigmail, a free and open source Thunderbird add-on that lets you protect the privacy of your email communication.

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About Enigmail

What is Enigmail

Enigmail is an interface that lets you use GnuPG encryption program from within Thunderbird. The Engimail interface is represented as Enigmail in the Thunderbird console tool bar.

How does it work

Engimail is based on public-key cryptography. In this method, each individual must generate her/his own personal key pair.

Private keys

The first key is known as the private key. It is protected by a password or passphrase, both to be guarded and never shared with anyone.

Public keys

The second key is known as the public key. This key can be shared with any of your correspondents.

Encrypting mail

Once you have a correspondent’s public key you can begin sending encrypted emails to this person. Only she will be able to decrypt and read your emails, because she is the only person who has access to the matching private key.

Decrypting mail

Similarly, if you send a copy of your own public key to your email contacts and keep the matching private key secret, only you will be able to read encrypted messages from those contacts.

Digital signatures

Enigmail also lets you attach digital signatures to your messages. The recipient of your message who has a genuine copy of your public key will be able to verify that the email comes from you, and that its content was not tampered with on the way.

Verifying digital signatures

If you have a correspondent's public key, you can verify the digital signatures on her signed messages.

Installing and setting up Enigmail

Refer to the detailed guide Tactical Technology Collective has put together for help setting up and starting to use Enigmail.


  • (en/topics/understand-4-digisec/4-secure-communications/1-1-intro.md): Know how to securely communicate
  • (en/topics/understand-4-digisec/1-encryption/1-1-intro.md): Learn about encryption basics

Tactical Technology Collective: Thunderbirg, Enigmail, and OpenPGP for Windows