Mozilla THUNDERBIRD : Complete Review of Latest Version 2


Mozilla Thunderbird, just like Mozilla Firefox, is another highly successful opensource software developed by Mozilla Corp. It is a great e-mail and news client and offers RSS feed reader and a good contacts management system too. Thunderbird is safe and fast and has a great user interface, nice spam filters, quick message search, and can be customized to a large extent.

The areas where it scores over the other software offering similar functionality like MS Outlook and Windows Mail are the ease of use, better speed and a few more good features which offer better functionality. And of course the best thing is that it is free !!!

The version 2.0 was released a few months back and is available in over 35 languages. It is compatible with windows vista and has been undergoing constant updates since release as expected. Mozilla claims it to be a reloaded version more powerful than ever.

You can download the latest version of Thunderbird [presently 2.0.0.14] here:
http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/thunderbird/

I am a Gmail user and the the first impression was simply fantastic. The ease with which a new Gmail account gets created in Thunderbird 2 is worth appreciation, very unlike Windows Mail where I had to go to my Google accounts page and check out few things. AMAZINGLY all you need to do is to type in your user name and password in the account creation wizard and the client will do the rest of the required settings for you.

Here is all I had to do:

step 1 :

step 2:

And that’s it :

Easyyy … ehh ??? that’s the Gmail support it offers. It does rest of the settings by itself via POP3 access. [POP 3 access has to be enabled in gmail account setting though ! ] Moreover the default settings leave a copy of the mail on the server upon download so the mail on the server doesn’t get removed … good work. And we can customise any of the settings as per your requirement in the account manager window.

And this is what I got in windows mail when I tried to open an account in gmail. I had to visit my google account settings page to fill up this stuff:


Another great feature if you are a windows vista user is that you can get all your mail indexed in windows vista and you can find yor e-mail dire
ctly from start menu search box.

No integrated calendar??? Not a problem …
Y
es there is no inbuilt calendar in Thunderbird like the one in MS Outlook but that’s not a problem as you can download an extension called LIGHTNING which adds an integrated calendar.
Download the extension here:
http://www.mozilla.org/projects/calendar/lightning/download.html

When Thunderbird 1.5 was released it promised better security, automatic updating, automatic spell checking, anti-phishing technology, and other useful features. The newer version has got even more in its arsenal. Let’s take a look at the impressive list of new features in the version 2 :

Message tagging:
Message tagging is a nice little feature that allows you to add tags to individual emails using available tags or you can create your own tags too. Each tag comes has a corresponding colour so when we tag a message, it gets colorized in the mail folder. We can add multiple tags to a mail and it allows a great way of organizing the mail.

Contact management:
The address book is divided into two : first is the personal address book and the other is the collected addresses book. This allows better sorting of the addresses too. You can easily import address book entries. Auto complete results of the address while sending a mail is done according to how often you send e-mail to each recipient.

Add-ons and updates:
There are quite a few handy addons available which can furthur enhance your experience of working with Thunderbird. They can add lots of new features to thunderbird. One of the most important ones was mentioned by me above called as Lightning for adding an integrated calendar.
There is an add-on manager available [Tools …- add on] for this purpose just like the one in Firefox. Over 170 extensions for Thunderbird are available. Thunderbird add-on can let you manage contacts better, place voice over IP calls, listen to music, keep track of birthdates all from your inbox , add mouse gestures support, dictionary search, a tool that can switch between multiple proxy configurations and a lot more !!! Really cool !!!
You can configure Thunderbird 2 to automatically download new product versions and security updates.

Themes:
We can look for themes for thunderbird and install or uninstall them using the add-on manager [Tools … -add on]. These add to its user friendly nature even more by allowing you to change the look of the interface. Initially though, only one theme is available as the default theme.

Configuration:
Thunderbird is hugely configurable and an editor is available for this but it is definitely not a place that I would like to visit because one really needs to have some good knowledge before making any changes there.


Mail filtering:

Sorting : The message filters are easy to design and do come handy when we need to manage large volumes of mail. They give a great way to organize our mail folders.
Spam Filtering: Mozilla has updated Thunderbird’s popular junk mail folders to stay ahead of spam. Each email you receive passes through Thunderbird’s leading-edge junk mail filters. Each time you mark messages as spam, Thunderbird “learns” and improves its filtering so you can spend more time reading the mail that matters. Thunderbird can also use your mail provider’s spam filters to keep junk mail out of your inbox.

Find as you type:
Finds and highlights message text as you type. This speeds up the search process. It is identical to that in firefox for searching the text in the current page. Thunderbird also supports a Saved Searches feature, which is like the one available in vista explorer. A saved search is a folder that contains the results of a search you previous performed.

New mail alerts:
The notification appears in the system tray. In addition to the subject of the email, you’ll see information about the sender and the part of the body text when possible. Thunderbird’s notifications are usually quite a bit bigger than those offered by Outlook. The program doesn’t remain in the tray to check mails once it is closed which obliges you to manually open the program to check e-mail and feeds.

A notification :

Wide support:
The version is available for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. It supports POP, IMAP, Gmail and .Mac [on OS X] accounts for e-mail.I did write about how easy it was for me to open my new gmail account in Thunderbird. Gmail and .Mac users can access their accounts in Thunderbird by simply providing their user names and passwords.It works fine with multiple accounts of all kinds.

Security:
Phishing protection :Thunderbird protects you from email scams which try to trick users into handing over personal and confidential information by indicating when a message is a potential phishing attempt. As a second line of defense, Thunderbird warns you when you click on a link which appears to be taking you to a different Web site than the one indicated by the URL in the message.{For knowledge on phishing http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phishing }

Thunderbird will display an information bar with a graphical red shield any time it believes the currently-selected email is an email scam. You can then tell the application the email is not a scam, or delete it. Suspicious emails are allowed to display simple text only, so they can’t access your system programmatically.

{ I tried to explore the net and found out that more security features in Thunderbird include S/MIME, digital signing, message encryption, support for certificates and security devices. I do not have a clear idea of how all that works but anyhow I felt like including it here. }

Image blocking:
Remote images in the e-mail messages are blocked by default in Thunderbird 2. However you can tell mark certain addressed as trusterd and for mails from these addresses the image loads automatically.

Navigation:
Thunderbird 2 offers message history navigation that allows you to click “forward” and “back”. These back and forward buttons are provided in the interface for easier navigation while we are viewing our messages.

Finally…
Well it can obviously be difficult for a long time MS outlook user to switch to thunderbird as few of the features and few shortcuts do differ. But Thunderbird is a fully featured e-mail client with lots of extra functionality and people are working to constantly keep improving the software. The user-friendliness of Thunderbird and the fact that it is free is ensuring that lots of new users are opting for it. Lets hope the versions to come will be even better than the present one and provide lots of interesting features.

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