Thunderbird 3; I’m Not Impressed

Suffice it to say I’ve always loved Thunderbird by Mozilla. I loved it from the first time I saw it, probably mainly because it wasn’t Outlook. I know other folks loved Eudora, but it just wasn’t for me. I found Thunderbird gave me everything I wanted and more, and was happy.

Then came this latest version, and I find myself less than impressed. Thunderbird 3, which is now 3.0.4, has made some significant changes, which they say make it easier for new users, and offers some features they’ve never had before. But they’ve also messed up some interfaces, and if you ask me, there’s only been one good consequence from it.

First, they set up the default so it looks like Outlook; what’s that about? The idea behind Mozilla was that it was the anti-Outlook; if I’d wanted Outlook I would be using it. Maybe that’s the “easy” part for new users, using something they’re familiar with.

Second, they changed how you could save email addresses. Instead of opening up one of those Properties menus so you could add information and put it in any special mail category you’d created, now when you click to save the email address and you get the edit form you can add information, but you can’t place it anywhere special. Everything goes into a personal address book, and you have to open your contacts and move it to where you want it after the fact.

Third, let’s talk about the Contacts for a bit. That wasn’t even included as a default in the toolbar, and now that I’m calling it Contacts, let me back up for a minute. When I added it to the general program toolbar it was called Address Book. When you’re in an email you’re writing it’s called Contacts. And I had to add both; that was irritating. Sure, it will remember email addresses you already have if you just start typing it in, but if you’re doing multiple emails, and you want to BCC them, then typing each address individually can take up a lot of time.

Something they changed, which is why they didn’t put it on the toolbar automatically, was putting those tabs onto the email you happen to be reading. That’s not so bad if you want to keep all your email at the normal size it defaults to. I’m one of those people who likes opening emails to the full size of my browser so that I not only can read it easier by making it larger, but that way I only see one email at a time so that I’ll focus on that one email. Thing is, when you open an email all the way, those tabs aren’t always there. Oh, some are, but not all of them all the time. I find myself every time having to open it up, close it back, then open it again to get all those tabs back. If they’d just left it alone in the toolbar I wouldn’t have had to deal with it.

What did they add that they consider something good? They added a search bar which will search through your email to find something. When you do it a new tab opens in the program, something like if you click on some links in Firefox, and it will give you lists of where that word appears throughout the program. To the right it’ll give you 10 choices in a particular folder, then More will be there so you can click it to get 10 more. It’s actually kind of freaky; I like to have a better way of doing it.

And that leads to my one very good thing. It works much better with Google Desktop, which y’all know I love. Now when I download new email, it instantly indexes it, so that I can immediately find that email. Yeah, I know you’re saying who’d have a need to find something that fast. Well, I have 9 different inboxes set up in Thunderbird, so sometimes I’m not sure where an email actually went.

Now, the Mozilla folks are smart, so I figure in the next update, whenever it comes, they’ll have addressed at least a couple of my issues. When that happens, I know I’ll be a happy camper once more. For now, though, I’d have to say that I’m less than impressed with Thunderbird 3, yet it still beats Outlook by a mile.

8 thoughts on “Thunderbird 3; I’m Not Impressed”

  1. Yikes, you’ve definitely got me avoiding the upgrade. Mind you, I’m still on version since they don’t seem to auto-update. Good for me because even your good points didn’t sound very useful for my needs. Thanks for keeping me in the loop, Mitch.

    1. Glad to be of service, Natasha. I’m one of those people who usually checks to see what’s in the update, but this one caught me off guard one night, as I wasn’t paying attention to the version, and there you go. I hope once they work some bugs out that it’ll work much better.

  2. Hi Mitch, I’m not a Thunderbird user, so I can’t comment on specifics. However, as a programmer and software developer in a previous life, I have watched as all good software is updated, improved, simplified, and filled with new features until it becomes totally worthless.

    For many years, I’ve been a Eudora fan, but on my new computer, I’m only using Safari as a browser and Apple’s Mail program. They work together nicely and Mail is easier to use than Eudora.

    (My old business computer still has over 35 MB of email messages in Eudora and I’m keeping them in case I need them one day, but for now, I’m in the mode to simplify, simplify, simplify.)

    If you don’t mind my asking, what is it about Thunderbird that you love more than the other email programs.

    (You don’t have to tell me that it’s better than Outlook. I already know that. grin.)

    I’m with you on needing a fast and accurate search feature in an email client. With thousands of archived email messages and over 100 inboxes, an accurate, quick search feature is necessary.

    All the best,


    1. Hi John,

      I have multiple email accounts, and I like the idea that I can set them all up so that all the email downloads and knows where to go. I can also create different signature files for each one, and set them up to do different things if I wish, which I actually do for a few accounts. Outlook didn’t used to do that. I also like the junk filter on Thunderbird, which was much different than the one on Outlook way back when. I have to say that I haven’t really used Outlook personally ever, but when I was still employed, then at one hospital at a consulting assignment, I did have to use it. Not overly impressed still.

  3. You find TB3 works with Google Desktop Search? I don’t. GDS finds nothing. Nor did Copernic Desktop. TB’s own search function works – but a) it means you have to do a separate search and b) it’s a pretty clunky search function at best. I don’t know what changes have been made to the way that TB stores emails, but I’m annoyed that I can’t find anything.

    1. Jonathan, it works perfectly on my computer. Matter of fact, it indexes my email as soon as I download it, which it didn’t automatically do with the previous version of Thunderbird. I’m going to assume that you have all settings correct to get it right; have you tried running the manual index scan?

  4. I’ve actually never used Thunderbird before.. I’ve just installed it and I’m not impressed too..
    My email adress is in gmail and Thunderbird doesn’t open the messeges like in conversation, and that’s a problem for my because I use my mail for work and I have some people that I have 80 or even more messeges with.. and the list in Thunderbird gets really long and I don’t like it..
    I’ve installed Gmail notifier only, just to tell me when I have new mail.
    .-= Justin´s last blog ..Alkali Heath (Frankenia salina) =-.

    1. I don’t have a gmail account because frankly, I don’t trust Google not to read any email I might get there. I may be the last person in the world without one, but it suits me just fine. And Thunderbird just got an update which fixed a few things, though not everything, but in my opinion it’s still better than Outlook.

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