I’ve been using internet email for 15 years and life is getting better. Mostly.
Email tools these days are free or near free, loaded with features, and the killer application of the information age. Take Thunderbird, please.
First, take a look at what you use for email and why. Do you use OS X’s Mail application? Good choice, though even Mail has a few problems here and there.
For example, Mail can’t remember where columns are located, how wide, and how to put them back in the same order. That’s a nit picky item but it drives me nuts.
That said, Mail is decent at importing mail from other email applications such as the venerable, ancient, and creaky Eudora, or the get-what-you-pay-for Microsoft Entourage.
The same cannot be said for Mozilla’s Thunderbird, the open source, cross platform, email application now at version 2.0. These days, new versions are incremental in capability, and suffer from feature creepitis.
I like Thunderbird. It does IMAP even better than Mail, though not as consistent as Entourage. But consider the price tag. Thunderbird doesn’t have one. Entourage does.
Thunderbird 2 does a better job of organizing email through folders that work like those in Mail (mostly), but look like those in Windows.
Handy is the mail tagging feature which lets you assign a “to do” or a “done” tag to an email message. That implies that many of us use email as our To Do Utility.
Toggling between message and folder view is a simple one click operation in Thunderbird so you can go forward and backwards through a large volume of email.
Search is faster and easier than in the older version. In fact, for Mac users, Thunderbird search will seem almost instant as it almost is in Apple’s Mail. Almost.
Mac users will be happy to know that Thunderbird can check .Mac email, via POP or IMAP, and can check Google’s slowly-becoming-popular Gmail accounts. Just enter your user name and password.
Security has been enhanced with advanced phishing protection—warnings about certain email you may have received that is tagged as having dubious value.
I prefer using Spam Sieve for junk mail, but Thunderbird’s has improved. Still about 80-percent to 90-percent of all my email is junk mail. Also good is Thunderbird’s new automated system for security updates. Click it and you’re done.
What’s not to like? Thunderbird is capable, handles many accounts, does POP, SMTP, and IMAP, is more secure, has more features, and is easier to update.
What’s not to like? There are two major items at the top of my list which prevent Thunderbird from being ready for prime time. Prime time is defined as “I use it.”
First, Thunderbird is the Ugly Betty of Mac mail applications. Seriously. It looks and behaves just like a Windows application. Mac applications are not Windows applications. How hard can it be to modify the look and feel a bit so it fits on a Mac?
The Mozilla folks have a similar problem with Firefox, which looks nearly the same on Windows and Macs, so much so that Camino was born—a Firefox browser that looks like a Mac application.
Second, if you really want people to use your email application you have to be ready to import their email from whatever application they’re using now. Mail does it for Eudora, Entourage, and friends. Entourage does it for Mail, Eudora, and friends.
Why can’t Thunderbird import mail from Apple’s Mail; the one mail application used by most Mac users? The import choices are Netscape 6, Netscape 7, Mozilla, or nothing. Hello?
For me, the Windows-like interface and inability to import mail from Mail or Entourage, are deal breakers. Thunderbird might be free but it’s not ready for prime time.
What do you use for email and why? Would you switch to a better application for email? How much are you willing to pay? Share your experience in the Comment section below.