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It seems that the process of Thunderbird updating might be the issue. Most screen readers seem to lag when a given program is taking its time in updating something.
I dare to create a new thread to discuss this issue more. So just to
recap: some of us (not all of us) have experienced significant lags in
Thunderbird over a period ranging from a few weeks to a year or so.
Hard to pinpoint the issue and since a lot of users didn't experience
this, the issue was neither critical not even proven (hard to prove a
lag, by all means).
This could apply to other email clients, it seems. As far as I'm
concerned, the problem was that my inbox was crowded. Last I checked I
had around 12K emails in only one folder and the older emails had been
sent in 2009. I had gone over cleaning up this folder and removing what
I didn't care to keep, but there were a lot of emails I simply archived
because I wanted to keep a track. And because I'm using iMap (several
devices to keep in sync, I couldn't very well use Pop3), these emails
were sent to every client.
A (bug) was discovered on Gmail accounts. Deleted emails, by default,
weren't deleted at all, just kept in a separate folder in Gmail which
was a poor fix and didn't exactly solve my problem. But more
importantly, I went to the Gmail settings and asked it to only send me
1000 emails in a single folder at most. And after a painful and slow
client sync, I find Thunderbird so much more responsive. Was it really
all that took? And if so, who's responsible? Is it logical for NVDA to
lag that much in a simple list when the said list has around 10K
entries? Maybe yes, maybe not. Maybe Thunderbird itself, despite its
"caching" and "compacting" doesn't handle the situation very well, at
least for users relying on assistive technology. It might be worth
reporting their way, but it probably is worth discussing here
beforehand. Besides, Thunderbird might not be the only one suffering
from this issue. And this "fix" might not fix anything for others.
Again, worth talking about.
The setting that changed my life was in Gmail: so login to gmail.com,
open settings / POP3 and iMAP sync (sorry for the labels that might be
somewhat different, Gmail is in French on my account), and check the
options on "when a message is marked as deleted". Just below you will
find another setting to limit the number of emails per folder. By
default there's no limit, but if you check a limit Gmail offers you 1000
emails per folder at most. This seems to be a good alternative. The
remaining (for me!) 11K emails aren't deleted, but Gmail keeps them on
its server and doesn't send them to the client except if you search
(Thunderbird allows to run a full search on the server).