Actually, we live in The Golden Age of Mac browsers and we Mac users fight and argue over which one is best. Email is different. We fight and argue over which email app is the worst, and every so often there’s another one released to help us ease our pain. Yes, friends, email is the killer app of the internet. What does that have to do with 1999?
Email Is Free
Way back in the day both Microsoft and Apple decided their respective operating systems needed to come with an email app. These days it’s Outlook for the dark side, and Mail for the rebellion. Who wants to pay money to do email?
That’s what the folks at Mozilla figured out many years ago so they came up with the free email app Thunderbird. This is email likes its 1999, a cumbersome, Window-like app which has feature after feature bolted on to increase its value. Of course, it’s still free, so I’m not sure the value proposition would have changed with or without more features.
Thunderbird is the epitome of an app from the last century, complete with a cluttered interface and most of the 21st century’s email features tacked on here, pasted on over there. Nearly everything Thunderbird happens in the top half of the app’s window.
With a clear conscience I can tell you that Thunderbird’s user interface is self explanatory. But it takes a lot of reading. And a note pad. A flashlight might help if the day goes too long.
The toolbar is obvious and sports the basics. Get Messages. Write. Then, it takes a left turn with Chat, and then another left with Address Book. But if you look above the Inbox tab you’ll see other tabs for Calendar, Tasks, Chat again, and then a Calendar with event listings in the far right corner.
The Mail Account Setup Wizard works well enough and Thunderbird handles IMAP, SMTP, and a few secure settings, so all you’ll need is those settings, your username and password. You can also setup multiple accounts. There’s even an option to sign up to get a new email address; as if we don’t have too many email accounts already.
Some of the features are handy, including the One-Click Address Book, tabbed windows, and a search option which lets you search email and the web. Why? Because no app is fully feature complete until it does email. Unless it is email, and then it’s not feature complete until you can search the web.
In the true spirit of Mozilla and Firefox, Thunderbird has more add-ons than any email app I’m familiar with. There’s even a built-in Add-ons Manager. But security is built-in, too, including privacy settings, the all important Do Not Track, which as we all know, means Ignore My Do Not Track setting. There’s Phishing protection, Junk Mail filter, and the Automated Update function.
That leads me to Thunderbird’s business model and its raison d’être. I cannot figure out the business model because Thunderbird is free, and as to raison d’être, well, let’s just say email was installed on earth by an advanced race of god-like creatures who figured it would be fun to make humans go man before enslaving us to the internet.
We’re almost there.