Thunderbirds are go! Confessions of a former Mozilla Mail user

I switched from Mozilla Mail (1.7.3) to Thunderbird 1.0 over lunch; I can't say I've plumbed it's depths but I wanted to offer you some first impressions.

Praises:

  • flawless install and upgrade experience; perfect import of configuration settings from Mozilla (Outlook Express also supported)
  • very pretty default look-and-feel (nice skin with toolbar buttons, icons); consistent to Firefox
  • Mozilla mail was already fast, but Thunderbird feels subjectively even faster: message display seems about 30% faster
  • the search toolbar allows searches to be on subject, sender or message body; it also uses the edit area to show the current search type
  • searches can be saved as folders; a saved search can span one or more folders and include multiple criteria
  • much clearer layout for several dialogs, such as Junk Mail Controls
  • the preferences menu item follows Firefox's example by moving to Tools/Options, in line with applications like Internet Explorer and StarOffice/OpenOffice.org

Nits:

  • The toolbar button colours seem slightly out-of-sync with Firefox's palette (especially the reds and blues)
  • the search folder uses a close toolbar button to return the view to un-filtered mode; I think a checkbox would be clearer
  • I'd like to see search folders appear under a standard top-level Searches folder for ease of access and to clarify their operation (a delete on a search folder impacts the message in the actual containing folder)

Between Firefox and Thunderbird, the only thing that may keep some users from abandoning Mozilla is Composer; clearly the mail composer includes a HTML editor, but if you want to edit a longer document, you can use OpenOffice.org.

Firefox, Thunderbird and OpenOffice.org/StarOffice - now that's a killer suite.

Oh, and here are the other Thunderbirds.

Comments:

Interesting. I had been wavering whether or not to try moving off Eudora after zillions of years and into Thunderbird. Up to now I've been using Mozilla mail only when connected from home to SWAN. And I use Eudora for everything else off Sun. But now with the move towards the edgemail service, it seemed possible to have one mail client that handled ALL mail, on or off the Sun network. So seeing your post on planetsun I took the plunge this afternoon. After a few strange things, I got it all to work. Even imported all my Eudora mail folders and addressbooks. Flawless is the word! So now, even tho I'm not connected via VPN to SWAN, I can still read and send email within Sun, while at the same time reading my non-Sun email. I suspect that this won't work that well when I actually turn on VPN (for shell and X11 access). But we'll burn that bridge when we come to it (namely, tomorrow.) But I'm impressed. I've also set up a number of RSS feeds. Its a great improvement to Mozilla Mail, AND Eudora! Thanks for the giving me the push.

Posted by Richard Friedman on December 07, 2004 at 01:25 PM PST #

Eudora is a great app, glad to hear that it worked well for you migrating from it to T-bird. Try the RSS feature too! If it could import OPML, I would start using it in earnest right away; the integration of RSS into a mail/news client is very compelling.

Posted by Colm Smyth on December 07, 2004 at 06:59 PM PST #

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