While Outlook may run the business world, at home you can use whatever email client you want, and Thunderbird is an awesome choice. It has been a while since a major new Thunderbird release, and today we take a look at version 3.0 features and what you can expect.
Installation & Setup
When you begin installation you can choose Standard or Custom. The only extra things you can change with a Custom install is the installation directory, Shortcuts, and Start menu folder. Most users should be fine with the Standard Install.
After installation Thunderbird starts up and you can select what you want to use it as the default client for. If you don’t want to see this message every time you launch it, then uncheck the box Always perform this check when starting Thunderbird.
Migration assistant will start up if you have an older version of Thunderbird on your system and migrate mails and folders to the new version.
While the Migration Assistant completes you have the option to use the new or original toolbar and Smart folders mode. If you don’t want to choose right away…no worries, you can access it at anytime later.
Adding your Hotmail or Gmail account is easy. It’s not as complicated as it can be in other clients…just enter in the account and password. You don’t need to know IMAP, SMTP, TLS settings, the wizard will check a database and find the right settings for your account.
Thunderbird 3.0 Features
Thunderbird now has a tabbed user interface like most web browsers do, so you can easily switch between different messages and searches.
Speaking of searches, it has been greatly improved and is fast. It also offers different search options that are easy to change from the search box.
It provides an easy way to filter through the messages you’re looking for using different criteria.
Search results provide a timeline in addition to the results. You can click on the time line to narrow down a search in different date ranges.
You can also go in a more advanced mode and find specific information you’re looking for in the subject, body, CC field, Priority, Status and more.
An easy to access one-click Address Book. Simply right-click an address and add it to your contacts.
The Smart Folders option is enabled by default and merges multiple account inboxes together. This allows easier management of messages by combining folders like Inbox, sent, or archives. Click View on the toolbar, go to Folders, and there you can change the folder arrangement.
It also now has an Add-ons Manager like in Firefox. You won’t need to visit the website to search for them, just use the manager to search and install the ones you want.
The Activity Manager is a one stop place that records the different actions you have taken with your mail. It takes the guess work out of figuring out what happened to a message. It’s good when you have a “what the heck did I do with that email” moment.
Attachment Reminder is also a neat feature. Have there been times during a busy day where you’re talking about a document or file attached to your email, and then forget to attach it? Attachment Reminder looks for keywords related to attachments in the message body, and pops up a reminder and lets you click to add it.
There are better security features included like allowing your Antivirus app to analyze and even quarantine a suspected virus in an attachment. It also has an interesting Anti-Phishing capability that will analyze a message for commonly used phishing techniques. It will also warn you when clicking a link in an email that takes you to a different site than the one shown in the URL.
Overall I would have to say it has been worth the wait and Thunderbird 3.0 is a great improvement over previous versions. It’s fast, has a cleaner user interface, and is easier to search and manage emails. The new features like the tabbed interface and Add-ons Manager make it intuitive to use for fans of Firefox. They have enhanced the SPAM filtering and when you mark an item as SPAM, Thunderbird learns to filter those messages out. It will work with Windows 2000 or above, Mac OSX 10.4 or higher, and most versions of Linux. If you’re looking for a new email client for your desktop or are already a fan of Thunderbird, getting version 3.0 is definitely a great idea.