Email is a necessary evil. Three out of every four email messages I receive are spam. Half of the rest are simply cc’d messages from other.
The other half require some thought, attention, response, organizing, and a place to live. Love it or hate it, email is here to stay. So, why not try the Mac or Windows PC email app that has the most features?
Features vs. Usability
Most Mac users use Mail for email. It’s built in. It’s free. It works. And it has plenty of features, including templates, easy multiple account setup, POP and IMAP capability, and semi-integration with other Mac apps.
Mozilla’s Thunderbird, now at version 5, is a free email app. It, too, has plenty of features, and some of them are worth a look, even for tried and true Mac Mail users.
First, it’s a multi-platform email app. Thunderbird on Mac works pretty much the same way as Thunderbird on a Windows PC. That’s good and bad.
The Mac version looks and behaves too much like the Windows version, and not enough like a Mac app. That means Thunderbird has plenty of features, but isn’t quite so easy to use.
Among the more recent and welcome improvements is the Mail Account Setup Wizard, which, like Apple’s Mail, makes it much easier to set up multiple accounts. All you need is your email address, login ID, and password.
The attachment reminder is handy for those who send attachments. How many times have you sent a message, told the recipient to check the attachment, but forgot to send the attachment? Attachment Reminder checks and reminds you first.
Tabs. They’re all the rage in browsers, so why not in an email app? Thunderbird’s got tabs. It’s now easy to load and view multiple messages (open, new, etc.) and simply tab between them, rather than focusing on one at a time.
Even the Message Archive is an improvement over what Apple provides in Mail (hint: there isn’t any). Move messages from the inbox but don’t delete it. Use archiving instead by clicking the Archive button.
My favorite junk mail app is SpamSieve, but Thunderbird’s qualifies as decent and includes Phishing Protection functions, so if you accidentally click a link that’s different than the content (common among phishers), you get a warning.
One other item that’s good for Mac geeks is the Add-ons Manager. Firefox is known for hundreds of user worthy add-ons; extensions which, well, extend the browser’s functionality. Thunderbird has add-ons and a way to manage them.
These are just a few of the features that go beyond what Apple gives us in Mail, but help to make Thunderbird a worthy email messaging center, especially considering the price tag.