For many Internet users, Mozilla's Thunderbird
email client is the
program of choice when it comes to checking and keeping track of their
email. A strong contender for a leading spot amongst email
applications, one of Thunderbird's greatest assets is that it is open
source and free to download. It is a very serviceable email client that
far surpasses other free, or freely bundled with Microsoft Windows
solutions, such as Outlook Express (or Windows Mail, in Vista.)
Free Web-based email solutions such as Gmail, Yahoo Mail and Hotmail
cannot be used off-line, and while they are very popular with the
younger generation of computer users they don't suit everyone's needs.
With the move towards more mobile computing, not being able to refer to
incoming mail messages or compose replies while off line makes these
web-based solutions unsuitable to many.
I have switched back and forth over the past few years between
Microsoft Office Outlook and Mozilla Thunderbird email client. For the
most part I feel that both email applications function well. I am
currently using Microsoft Outlook, but only because it integrates with
PGP email encryption seamlessly whereas Thunderbird did not handle the
PGP/GnuPG encryption add-ons that smoothly. Outlook also has better
personal information management features which are something I use a
lot in my line of work. Had Thunderbird been stronger in these two
areas I would most likely still be using Thunderbird today.
Thunderbird offers support for POP, IMAP and Gmail mail accounts. It
handles contacts well, has an address book, and you can receive RSS
feeds. Being cross-platform friendly, it can be used by Mac users,
LINUX users and other systems.
Security wise, it is often touted to be more secure than Outlook and
includes anti-phishing technology.
The program has all the usual perks that one likes in an application
such as automatically updating itself and comes complete with its own
You can tag messages as they come in with a fully customizable tag,
which allows the messages to show up in a different color in your
One very handy ability the Mozilla Thunderbird email client has is that
of being able to use the Back and Forward buttons to view previously
read messages. Instead of having to click out to the inbox, you can
quickly go back to previous messages.
A find bar, similar to the one in Firefox, allows you to search within
an email message as you type. Searches, performed across folders, can
be saved in a folder if you choose to do so. To rerun the search,
simply click on the saved search folder.
Perhaps one of the biggest drawing cards with Thunderbird is the sheer
number of add-ons and extensions you can add to the application, via a
fairly simple to use Add-on Manager. If there is something Thunderbird
can't do itself chances are that there is an add-on that will do the
One thing that it is quite slim on is detailed help and instructions.
This isn't such a problem if you're used to setting up email clients,
but it could make installation and setting up a problem to a relative
newcomer. Support is available online of course, but more detailed
instructions and help integrated into the program itself would be
Overall, the Mozilla Thunderbird email client is a very serviceable
email application. With the added benefit of it being free yet still
able to complete most, if not all, tasks that the much more expensive
Microsoft Outlook it will most likely gain much more support amongst