An excellent email program that is easy to set up and use.
From the same stable as the ever popular Firefox web browser, Thunderbird handles your email and RSS news feeds. Thunderbird 13 uses both a tabbed interface and Smart Folders to keep you in control of your emails.
The Filelink tool uses YouSendIt to upload large files to the internet and send a link rather than try and attach the file to the email. This avoids the problem of emails being rejected because they are too big or the recipients account is full.
A partnership with gandi.net and hover.com lets you sign up for a personalised email address.
Setup is easy. Thunderbird takes your email address and password and attempts to work out the correct server settings. Mozilla claim they have hundreds of Internet Service Provider's settings included in the wizard. It worked well and there is a manual setup to fall back on if it does not work. Thunderbird has a Migration Assistant for copying emails and settings from previous versions of Thunderbird and other email clients.
We were very pleased to see that Thunderbird offers the choice between IMAP and POP email access when the former is available. You should choose IMAP if you can, especially if you want to access the email from more than one computer. When using IMAP, the emails are left on the email server and they can be moved to folders for staying organised. Emails can still be downloaded to the computer for offline access. Thunderbird lets you select exactly which folders will be downloaded, which is handy if you are limited on disk space on a laptop or netbook.
Smart folders are useful for those of us with more than one email account. They combine folders such as the inbox from all the accounts into one place, so you should never miss an important email again.
It is now possible to archive email and move it out of the inbox, which is a great help for staying organised.
Search has been improved but be prepared for a wait while emails are indexed for the first time. This has been improved several times to be faster.
Thunderbird now has a saved files manager. It's a little like the download manager in Firefox and lists documents saved from emails – a handy tool if you cannot remember the folder that the file was saved in.
Thunderbird is a very good email program. Since Thunderbird 9 it has used the newest version of the Mozilla Gecko software for displaying emails and has a new Add-ons Manager. This is similar to the one in Firfox. Rather than rely on a small window, the new Add-ons tool appears as a tab giving more space for installed and recommended add-ons. It is also aware of the version of Thunderbird in use and won't let you install incompatible add-ons.
Thunderbird will disable add-ons that are installed by third party sofware by default, which helps keep you in control of what the software is doing.
It is also possible to hide the menu bar and reveal it with the ALT key, a useful trick on widescreen displays where height is at a premium.
Read more reviews
An excellent email program with plenty of useful tools
Updating your subscription status