Thunderbird is a desktop email client, an alternative to Microsoft's Outlook, from the developers of Firefox.
Thunderbird is Mozilla's award winning and free solution to manage your mail more efficiently. And there are many advantages of switching to it too. Unlike Mail for example, it can handle virtual identities and create on-the-fly addresses and it's widely regarded as having one of the best spam filters out there. Most recently, it's been updated with a slick tabbed interface to make managing your e-mail easier.
The fact that like Firefox, Mozilla Thunderbird can be beefed up with all manner of extensions makes it an extremely competitive mail client. It's also now much faster and more stable than before due to the Gecko 5 engine.
Setting up Mozilla Thunderbird is painless. You can quickly import your mail and contacts from your Outlook or Mail account and set up POP3, IMAP or SMTP accounts in a flash. To stay well organized, Mozilla Thunderbird offers filters to deliver your mail into separate folders and inboxes. And of course, there's a built-in spell checker to make sure that your mails are professionally crafted.
What makes Mozilla Thunderbird slightly more unusual is the fact that it comes with an integrated RSS reader. Nowadays, this is a little outdated because many people use a separate application - or even Firefox itself - to follow RSS feeds but it may be useful if you only want to mail and follow RSS feeds at the same time when composing mails.
Searching your mail
The search tool in Thunderbird is excellent and searches happen in real time as you type. Search results are displayed in a separate tab. Tabs in general are a very big part of Thunderbird and like Firefox, you can have multiple messages open in separate tabs. This is a fantastic feature of Thunderbird although does tempt you to have too many mails open at once. Archiving is also another handy feature for those that don't want to delete messages but want to clear space in their inbox.
So what about security? You might think an open-source mail client would inherently be less secure than a paid one but Thunderbird is surprisingly secure with a fairly bulletproof spam filter. The reason being is that Thunderbird is regularly updated and crafted by volunteers who's main interest is making a better product rather than profiting from an end-product. Security updates are regular but small so as not to slow-down Thunderbird.
One of the biggest selling points of Mozilla Thunderbird is that it offers Microsoft Exchange support, meaning it will appeal to Office users who previously discounted it.
On the downside, the app is lacking some finesse in certain areas. Thunderbird still doesn't have conversation style email views like in Gmail (although an extension to do this can be downloaded separately) and there aren't many options for managing attachments and photos. There's also no calendar but again, this can be downloaded separately in the form of "Lightning".
Overall, Thunderbird is an excellent free alternative to Microsoft Outlook.
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