I may have misunderstood how Thunderbird works, but when I press
ctrl + shift + F, I must specify an account and a folder within it.
I want to be able to search all mail. Is there a plug in to do this?
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No plugin necessary, Thunderbird comes with a global search built in.
The default shortcut for that is
Ctrl - K (but I couldn't find the menu item to be honest).
You can put a "Global Search" input field into the toolbar.
See the Thunderbird help for details: https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/global-search