Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Thunderbird: a mixed review

Thunderbird: a mixed review

Recently I made the switch from Internet Explorer to Mozilla's Firefox browser and I couldn't be happier. I especially like the tabbed browsing (useful for a blogger who keeps multiple windows open all the time), the built-in popup stopping, and some of the interesting extensions.

So I decided to check out Thunderbird, Mozilla's e-mail program. And while I wasn't disappointed, I've decided to stick with Outlook Express for now.

The look and feel of Thunderbird is intuitively similar to OE. I was easily able to import my huge and extensive files of old messages, properly sorted into folders. (However, it did NOT retain my messages Read/Unread status, and marked all messages Unread.) My account settings and address books also imported well. But my previously established Message Rules conditions, which include a huge collection of spam words, did not import.

If I was suffering from major spam issues, I might have been more interested in the spam control features. But since the Great Address Change, and my wise decision to post my e-mail address in a format spam bots can't read, I've received virtually no spam. It seemed like Thunderbird flagged a lot of my messages as possible junk, including many from newsgroups I subscribe to. Granted, a lot of times those FEEL like spam, but they are at least messages I legitimately intend to get.

The killers, for me, were a couple settings that might seem small to some but that I depend on. I have OE set to grab messages at a regular interval. I was unable to find this setting in Thunderbird and instead had to manually Get Messages. I also found it odd that when a message hit my server, Thunderbird played my "you've got mail" sound (as I heard Brando make me an offer I couldn't refuse) yet I still had to manually Get Mail.

The other feature I missed was in the Message Rules setting. I manage another blog for the county Democratic Party. The work is simple: whenever OE gets a message from our listserv, it automatically forwards it to a Blogger e-mail address and it is posted. The Message Rules feature in Thunderbird did NOT include Send Message To: as an option.

The need to manually Get Mail and cut/paste my spam words were inconveniences, but the loss of the auto-forward was the killer. With the addition of these features, I'd be glad to give Thunderbird another try.

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