J instead of smiley face in Thunderbird

So I’ve been using Thunderbird for about 16 months now, and I finally decided to fix an annoyance. Anytime I get an email from someone using Outlook (often), any smiley faces they use in their message come across as the letter “J”. It happened so often I kind of got used to it, thought of a J as a weird smiley. But that’s not the correct behavior when something bothers you, so I found an implemented a fix I found. You can find the same info elsewhere, of course — a million monkeys and all that.

Go to your Firefox (you are using Firefox, right?) directory and find the res/fonts folder (on my computer it was at C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\res\fonts).

Use wordpad to open the file fontEncoding.properties.

After the line “# Symbol font” add this: encoding.wingdings.ttf = windows-1252 encoding.wingdings2.ttf = windows-1252 encoding.wingdings3.ttf = windows-1252 encoding.webdings.ttf = windows-1252

Now copy this file (or the entire directory) into your Thunderbird install directory under …\res\fonts (for me, C:\Program Files\Mozilla Thunderbird\res\fonts). There wasn’t a fonts directory there before, so I had to create it.

Then restart Thunderbird. Test by opening a file that had included a J, or just get someone running Outlook to send you a smiley. :)

Update on 10/29/08

So it turns out the latest version of Firefox (the fantastic Firefox 3) does not include the fontEncoding.properties file. Bummer!

I looked at the file I have and the copyright/license seems to indicate it can be distributed for free. Working under that assumption, I’ve made it available here.

YMMV, don’t take any wooden nickels, this might blow up your computer, use with care, etc.

Download fontEncoding.properties



Update on 11/12/10

Lenin, below, posted a link to a fix. Of course I accidentally marked that as spam and poof it was gone. So here’s what he found:


20 responses to “J instead of smiley face in Thunderbird

  1. Daniel, can you help me? I just changed to Thunderbird from Outlook (thanks god), and I can not get it work.
    I don’t have fontEncoding.properties in my FF folder at all. Only files like math*.properties.
    I did create fontEncoding.properties in my thunderbird folder, as you advised, put the # Symbol, and the encoding settings, but I still get the Js.
    Please, please help. (I did not find any other solution worth to try.)

  2. Sweet! Tested OK on Win XP with FF3 and TB2, although I had to get the file from somewhere else (did a full search and found it in, of all things, my Zend Studio for Eclipse installation directory). Copied it to the right Thunderbird-folder, and hey presto; smileys!

  3. Works great. Didn’t have the file fontEncoding.properties, so just created it and only pasted in your lines, worked like a charm! Thanks a bunch! J 😛

  4. Thanks a lot, this bugged me. You don’t need Firefox’s fontEncoding.properties, you can just use a blank file with:
    # Symbol font
    encoding.wingdings.ttf = windows-1252
    encoding.wingdings2.ttf = windows-1252
    encoding.wingdings3.ttf = windows-1252
    encoding.webdings.ttf = windows-1252
    That’s all.

  5. Yay! It works– made my own fonts folder and fontEncoding.properties file as Rob suggested in Thunderbird and all my Js are smileys!

  6. Thanks for the info! I can now Not burst a blood vessel in my eye when I used to see the infamous “J” in an email.

  7. This had been bugging me for quite some time now… But adding the properties file was a quick fix! Thanks!

  8. Hey! It worked great for me with Windows Vista + Thunderbird Had to create the font folder and fontEncoding.properties file from scratch with Wordpad in administrative mode. Used the 5 lines posted by Rob up there for the file content. Restarted Thunderbird, et voilà.

  9. I’m running Thunderbird 3 Portable and have carried out all the above but my old outlook signature which includes wingdings and webdings will not display, the 2 font images are a mobile phone and telephone, any help would be most grateful.
    I just get the chars below:

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