In the settings of Thunderbird you can choose to download only the headers of new messages or the part of messages not larger then a certain size. With this add-on an icon can be added to the toolbar with which you can download all partially downloaded messages in the currently selected folder.

At the moment English and German language versions are available (within the same installation package).

There is a thread on to discuss this addon.

You can also download it from

The getpartialmessages project can be contacted through bugzilla.
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