Mozilla Thunderbird is having a resurgence right now, armed with an expanded team of developers and a plan to take over the email world (including Android). The first of several planned updates, Thunderbird 102, is about to start rolling out.
Thunderbird 102 isn’t the complete overhaul that some fans might be waiting for — the “completely modernized UI” is scheduled for Thunderbird 114 next year. However, this update is a step in the right direction, with a few design tweaks and new features.
The most important change this time around is the updated address book, which now has a cleaner design and more field options. It’s still interoperable with the vCard format, so importing and exporting your contacts from other applications is easy. Just like before, it will also show contacts from any synchronized accounts, like Gmail.
Thunderbird 102 also introduces the Spaces Toolbar, a new column on the left side with quick-access buttons for mail, contacts, calendar, and other functions. Those buttons were already accessible on the top right side of the tab bar, but now they’re moved to the left side to mirror Outlook and other mail applications. You can also hide the toolbar, which then shows a dropdown button on the left side of the tab bar with all the same options.
The new Thunderbird update has changes to account and data management, too. The account setup hub has been revamped, so it’s easier to get started with a new email account or chat right after you install the app. There’s also a new Import/Export tool built into Thunderbird, which can help you move data from Outlook, SeaMonkey, or another Thunderbird installation.
Since Thunderbird is primarily an email application, there are a few changes to writing emails. Pasting a link in the compose window can now optionally generate a preview card, like what appears for links on Telegram, Discord, Twitter, and many other communication services.
If you don’t want to clutter up your message, you can turn them off or remove them after they appear. Mozilla has also updated the message header bar, with a larger font size for the title and more compact buttons.
There are many other changes and bug fixes, including support for multiple spelling dictionaries at the same time when writing an email, cleaner icons for tabs, keyboard navigation in the Addon page, rendering fixes for Linux, improved dialogs on Mac, and more.
How to Update Thunderbird
The Thunderbird team says that version 102 will start rolling out “by early evening, Eastern Standard Time” on June 28. It supports Windows 7 or later, macOS 10.2 or later, and most Linux distributions that have GTK+ 3.14 or higher.
You can check for updates in Thunderbird by clicking the main three-button menu button, then navigating to Help > About Thunderbird. If there’s an update available, it will start downloading. Thunderbird also periodically checks for updates in the background, and the new version should be available for download from thunderbird.net after it starts rolling out to existing users.
If you can’t wait, you can also install Thunderbird Beta, which is already on version 102 and will switch to the next version soon. Beta releases aren’t as stable, but you can use Thunderbird Beta alongside the normal application.