Thunderbird logo

Thunderbird has been around since 2003, but it has stalled in recent years due to dwindling interest from Mozilla and limited funds. However, the project is now making a resurgence, and it might be worth your time to try Thunderbird.

Thunderbird is a cross-platform desktop email application, similar to Microsoft Outlook or Apple Mail, with excellent support for accounts like Gmail, Outlook/Hotmail, and Yahoo Mail. It also has a built-in calendar and contacts book, which can also synchronize with cloud services (such as Google Calendar), and the app has limited support for live messaging.

The Thunderbird team revealed its plans for version 102 in a blog post earlier this month, with the update expected to arrive by the end of June 2022. The address book will have a refreshed design, with related information divided into cards for easier reading. Thunderbird is also working on a new (optional) ‘Spaces Toolbar’, which acts like a tab bar for all of the app’s features, similar to Outlook on the web. The account setup process and import/export wizard are being revamped, too, and there’s early support for Matrix messaging directly in Thunderbird.

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Spaces toolbar (far left side) Thunderbird

Thunderbird’s developers have also been answering questions and feature requests, though many of the planned improvements won’t show up for many months. Color-coding for emails is expected to arrive in Thunderbird v114, a universal font size setting is in the works, and some icons are being updated. There’s even an Android app in development.

Mozilla originally created Thunderbird alongside the Firefox web browser, with both applications serving as a replacement for the older Mozilla Suite. However, Thunderbird started to decline after Mozilla moved some of its developers to other projects in 2012, and then cut off most funding in 2015 — leaving Thunderbird’s future entirely up to independent donations.

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Updated Import Wizard Thunderbird

Thankfully, Thunderbird’s future is starting to look bright again. Mozilla moved the project to a new for-profit corporate entity in 2020, known as MZLA Technologies Corporation, and user donations increased by 21% in 2021. The new structure and increased funding has led to a hiring spree — Thunderbird said “we’ve been rapidly expanding our team” in the blog post — which means faster development for the email client.

Most of the exciting improvements haven’t been rolled out yet, but now is a great time to give Thunderbird a try, especially if you’re tired of the resource-heavy Electron desktop mail apps (like Spark) that have increasingly become more popular. The team is also accepting donations, so it can continue hiring more developers and other staff.

Source: Thunderbird Blog

Profile Photo for Corbin Davenport Corbin Davenport
Corbin Davenport is the News Editor at How-To Geek, an independent software developer, and a podcaster. He previously worked at Android Police, PC Gamer, and XDA Developers.
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