Fixing Garbled French Accented Characters in the Outlook Web Access Thunderbird Plugin

The OWA Thunderbird plugin (link down) is a life-saver. Especially if you have an employer that’s not too keen on open standards. However – for a long time – I have been plagued by  a problem that garbled French accented characters in the messages I sent. Until I got a message from Alvaro…

Warning: This article is being kept here purely for historical reasons. I do adhere to Tim Berners-Lee’s original vision for URIs and will keep this page live as long as possible. However most of the links mentioned in it do not work anymore.

I had posted this problem on the (now defunct) Thunderbird Webmail Extension Google Group a long while ago and finally today I was contacted by Alvaro Lozada Borrero who was kind enough to provide me with the solution he spent long hours developing. Caution: this solution only applies to those using the “screen reaper” mode. It will not help you if you are using WebDav mode.

To fix the problem, you simply need to replace the original owa.jar file with Alvaro’s modified version. You will find the original file in the following location (on Windows XP at least):

C:\Documents and Settings\<username>\Application Data\
Thunderbird\Profiles\<some_number>.default\extensions\
{3d82b2c0-0109-11da-8cd6-0800200c9a66}\chrome\owa.jar

You will most likely need to modify your display options to “Show Hidden Files and Folders” because otherwise some of the folders above will not even show up in the Windows Explorer (i.e. Application Data).

Do not forget to make a backup copy of the original owa.jar file just in case the newer version doesn’t work out for you. Evidently, you have to have the original OWA Webmail Extension (link down) installed beforehand (it should be the case if you are reading this message). Once you replace the file, you will be able to happily use all our weird French characters such as “é”, “ç” or “ù” and probably a bunch of weird characters from other languages as well.

If you do not currently have the OWA Webmail Thunderbird plugin installed, I urge you to read the article entitled Configure Microsoft Exchange and Outlook Web Access for Thunderbird (link is now unavailable) for thorough information on how to set it up.

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