A Look at Mozilla Thunderbird – a free alternative to Microsoft Outlook

By | August 27, 2011

Mozilla Thunderbird, principally an email and news client, is another product from the same community that developed the Mozilla Firefox. Generally considered to be a suitable alternative to Microsoft’s Outlook and Outlook Express packages, the Thunderbird is also boosted by the fact that it is available free of cost, and boasts of faster download and upload rates when compared to the other packages.

Features of Thunderbird:

  • One of the most basic advantages of using Mozilla Thunderbird is the relative ease with which one can set up his/her preferences and settings in the e-mail client. The most recent version of Thunderbird comes with a Migration Assistant that helps the user set up Thunderbird according to the requirements.

For example, the user can switch to the toolbar of an earlier version of Thunderbird if he or she finds it easier to use. Similarly, using the Migration Assistant, it becomes easier to make the transition from another e-mail client like Outlook Express to Thunderbird without being baffled by the difference in the user interface.

Thunderbird migration

  • Every user who has relied on their e-mail clients for managing multiple e-mail accounts at the same time understands the importance of a mail account setup wizard, which is one of the features of Thunderbird. As usual, the ability to handle multiple e-mail accounts is what determines the popularity and efficiency of e-mail client packages like the Thunderbird. And with the Mail Account Setup Wizard, users can now setup their accounts for different e-mails without having to check through all those heavy details, like the IMAP or SMTP settings. Just providing the email address and the password enables the client to obtain the settings from its database and set up the account automatically.

Thunderbird setup

  • Anybody who has ever used Mozilla Firefox will be acquainted with tabbed browsing. Thunderbird brings a similar feature – tabbed email. This feature of Thunderbird allows the user to load different emails in different tabs, so that the user can easily access any one of them at any time. This facility is useful when one might need to refer to earlier emails in order to compose another mail. When any mail message in the inbox is double clicked, it will open in a new tab. If one right clicks on the message, it will be loaded in a tab in the background. While quitting, all tabs that are visible in the package are saved, and can be restored when Thunderbird is re-launched.

Thunderbird tabbed email windows

  • The filter feature is another of Thunderbird’s aces. Using this feature, the user can automatically set some criteria to delete certain mails that are undesirable. This feature comes in handy in instances when the volume of junk mails with a particular word is very high. The account where the filters are to be applied has to be specified in the message filter box. This implies that different filters can be used for different accounts, which is a handy feature indeed.

Thunderbird filter feature

  • Mozilla Thunderbird e-mail client uses a type of filtering called the ‘Bayesian Filtering’, which is effectively a form of adaptive filtering. What sets this feature apart from other email clients is that it needs to be trained as to which mail is spam and which is not. The Junk Mail controls can be accessed from the Tools option. Once the Junk Mail Controls window opens, the user needs to specify the account for which the current settings are applicable. The user will have to teach the client to recognize spam, either by highlighting a mail message and pressing the junk button, or by marking a message as junk.

Thunderbird junk mail controls

Mozilla Thunderbird is an excellent alternative to conventional email clients like Microsoft Outlook Express. Apart from superior upload and download, it boasts of more flexibility and affords more power in the hands of users through addons. It can be easily used to set up an auto-reply system, or do similar functions.

Overall, the Thunderbird steals the show because it provides more or less similar functionality as the proprietary ones do, but being an open source software, is free of charge.

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