Mozilla Thunderbird

Monday, Oct 06, 2003

Thunderbird Rumbles Onto The Scene

Many email users have recently begun looking for alternative applications to Microsoft's popular Outlook and Outlook Express. Almost everyone is looking for a solution to the constant barrage of spam that flows into their inboxes, plus in recent weeks, the computer world has been hard-hit by a variety of worms and email-bourne virii that target specific vulnerabilities in Microsoft products, including Outlook and Outlook Express. In addition, Microsoft has recently announced that it will stop future development of Outlook Express as a separately-available product. All of these developments have encouraged the adoption of other email clients.

Mozilla Thunderbird is an excellent alternative -- an email program that truly ups the ante. Thunderbird is Open Source and completely free, so you can download it off the net and install it on all of your computers for no fee. Based on the popular and mature Mozilla program, Thunderbird offers a quick, clean interface with easy access to a variety of important email features. Thunderbird is available for Windows, Macintosh, and for Linux, and it also includes support for all of the standard email options, including POP, IMAP, S/MIME, etc., and also lets you import your existing email and address book information from most email clients, so you won't miss a step in moving over.

Spam Filtering

Thunderbird actually learns what types of email you like to get, and what types of email you don't want. If you get a message that you don't like, simply click the "spam" button, and Thunderbird automatically learns it, and files it in a "Junk" folder. If Thunderbird puts a message that you do want in the "Junk" folder by accident, just click "Not Junk" and it's moved and relearned. That's it! It's amazing -- within just a few days, Thunderbird will have learned your mail preferences and your amount of junk email will drop to virtually nothing.

Virii and Nastiness

Thunderbird will not allow a virus or worm to execute automatically when receiving or viewing email messages. JavaScript is disabled by default, so a malicious email can't infect your system when an email message is open. You can also see which attachments are included in a message without executing them, so you would have to manually save an infected file to your computer and then run it in order to launch the virus or worm. Thus, you don't have to worry about your computer mass-emailing everyone in your address book with the latest virus, or trashing your hard drive with the latest ad-ware.

Interface Niceties

Thunderbird offers a clean, uncluttered feel. It doesn't have thousands of buttons and options to create confusion in your email views, plus the options are configurable to make it fit your working personality exactly. For example, you can customize your toolbars any way you want just by clicking and dragging the icons. If you don't like the default look, there are many downloadable themes to make the email program look like anything you want.

In addition to the general clean and easy-to-understand look, Thunderbird offers many small touches that make dealing with email simpler and faster. It includes an addressing sidebar for new mail composition, allowing the easy addition of address book contacts to new email messages. It fully supports HTML email, but also allows the user to control which features -- images, cookies, javascript, etc. -- he wants to display, thereby preventing a variety of email-based spam magnets.


As an Open Source project, Thunderbird -- like its cousin Firebird the mail browser -- is under constant development, and is only getting better. As it has improved, it has displaced Outlook Express as the email program of choice for many individuals and corporations.

Download it today and give it a try!

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