Tuesday, November 30, 2004

An "aha" moment with Thunderbird

I've been using Mozilla Thunderbird for email and newsgroups since it was called Minotaur (of course) and I've watched helplessly as my Mail folders grew in size ever since. Now I finally find the "Compact folders" function.. hidden away in plain sight in the "File" menu.. And I had to use Google to find that out. Oh well, my Inbox file went from 250MB to comparatively nothing, and I won't need to worry about all the emails I moved or deleted last year reappearing en masse anymore, which happened a couple of times.

Anyway, Thunderbird is being rushed to 1.0 (not literally, I hope) - it's an email client along the same kind of lines as Firefox the browser: built with usability and security in mind. For example, images in emails which aren't from people you know are not displayed by default - which avoids having to actually see the obscene filth that passes for email these days. Tbird makes it difficult to fool you by pretending that links in emails appear to point to one place while taking you another, it has a "Simple HTML" display mode which is somewhere between plain text and untrammeled HTML - (I can't get used to using HTML email after forcing Outl**k into plain text for so long) which is useful when you are viewing messages which may contain unpleasant or malicious content.

It has a built in spellchecker, RSS reader and the ability to create Virtual Folders (a bit like "Search Folders", apparently, I haven't found the need yet). Mouse gestures work so you can increase text size, move to the next message etc just with gestures. Of course, the usual CTRL+ and CTRL- shortcuts change the text size too, like in Firefox (CTRL-zero resets the text size to the default, by the way)

What else? Message filters that work and are completely configurable, built-in adaptive spam filters, extensions and themes and everything else good about Firefox is here too. Thunderbird defaults to protecting users' privacy and security, and does a good job doing what an email program has to do.

I've got a candidate build for 1.0 to try - which reminds me, you can back up Thunderbird and Firefox (& Mozilla & Netscape) profiles with Mozilla Backup, on Windows anyway.

If you're fed up or frustrated with Outl**k or Outl**k Express, why not give Thunderbird a try when 1.0 comes out? It will import your settings and contacts and mail, if you want it to, although it won't import any attachments. [Edit: this isn't true of the release versions]

No comments: