As some of you probably know, I’m a long-time Thunderbird user, from back when it still had the cool blue Phoenix logo, and when what we now call FireFox had only just changed from being called Phoenix to FireBird. In other words, from when Mozilla still looked at BOTH their browser AND their mail client as being important products. Since those days I’ve watched in horror as Mozilla first neglected Thunderbird, and then abandoned it. While FireFox has gone from strength-to-strenght, Thunderbird has languished. The project was effectively thrown out of Mozilla and left to fend for itself. It also lost its lead author, and has stagnated. It’s a good mail client, but it’s behind the times. It’s missing simple features like a tabbed interface, and FireFox 3’s new, non-retarded, way of dealing with problem security certs. For all these reasons I was very excited to see the announcement of a beta version of Postbox this week. It’s a fork of Thunderbird being led by Thunderbird’s old lead, so in many ways, it’s a glimpse of where Thunderbird could have been, had it not been neglected by Mozilla. It definitely is a beta, but it’s a glimmer of hope at long-long-last!
I’m probably a very rare beast, a Mac user who uses Thunderbird rather than Apple Mail. The reason I use Thunderbird is because I don’t like lock-in. I’ve had my same mailboxes on Windows, Linux and Mac, so I know that as long as I use Thunderbird I can move to any OS I want at any time and keep all my mail, contacts and settings completely effortlessly. I’d just have to copy one folder. It can certainly be argued that Thunderbird is less polished looking than Mac Mail and it has a few less features but on the whole it’s a very capable client that works well.
I’ve been using the basic features for years but of late the sheer volume of mail I have to deal with at work has led me to start experimenting with ways of making my life easier. The first optimization people generally think of is message filters so I’m not going to talk about those because I think they are pretty obvious and people are used to using them. Instead I’m going to give two hopefully less obvious tips.
[tags]Mozilla, Thunderbird, Email, To Do, Organise[/tags]
I’ve just switched to Thunderbird 1.5 and I’m impressed. There is no real noticeable difference in the overall look of the app but there are some changes that really make it worth upgrading from 1.0. The most noticeable difference is that it now checks your spelling as you type rather than only doing it when you click send. This will save a lot of time and effort and gives Thunderbird the only thing that apple’s mail client had over it IMO. The other thing they have finally addressed is the interface for setting up multiple SMTP servers. Each account now has a simple dropdown menu for specifying what server to use which is a big improvement to the hoops you used to have to jump through in version 1.0.
Basically, if you haven’t upgraded yet, get cracking and if you are still using something ghastly like Outlook Express or Eurdora get switching now, you won’t regret it!