Mozilla Thunderbird review

Catch up with emails, appointments and headlines, all in one place

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Our Verdict

Thunderbird is an exceptional free email client that lets you manage as many email accounts as you like from one convenient locations. It's very flexible and can be expanded via plugins that fill any holes in its feature set.

For

  • Supports an unlimited number of email accounts
  • Expandable via plugins
  • Easy to set up

Against

  • Some key features rely on third-party extensions

Windows 10 comes with an email client built in, but a third-party client like Thunderbird is a far better choice for managing your messages. That's because Windows Mail is online-only, so there's no way to access your messages without an active internet connection. Want to search for an attachment you received a few weeks ago while you're on the train? Nope, you can't.

Mozilla Thunderbird

Download here: Mozilla Thunderbird

Developer: Mozilla

Operating system: Windows, Mac, Linux

Version: 52

Thunderbird, by contrast, lets you keep a backup of all your messages on your PC, in a location of your choice. That also means you have a fallback option for those occasions when you suddenly realise, with a sinking heart, that you've accidentally deleted something very important.

Thunderbird also helps you keen on top of your appointments, with support for multiple calendars, and includes an RSS reader so you can see the headlines at a glance as well. It's extremely useful, and will save you the hassle of opening half a dozen browser tabs each morning to check your schedule, organize your inboxes, and find out what's going on in the world.

User experience

Setting up Thunderbird is simple if you use one of the bigger email providers like Google, Yahoo or Microsoft – just type in your address and the software will automatically pick the appropriate settings. When you're asked to choose between IMAP and POP3 settings, pick the latter to keep a copy of your emails on your PC for access when you’re offline.

Adding more accounts isn't quite as straightforward – the menu button is located towards the top of the interface, just to the left of the calendar – but once you've connected them, they'll all appear neatly organized into folders that you can open and collapse as you see fit.

Adding a Google calendar to Thunderbird is easy too (use the main menu to connect it just as you would another email address), but you'll only be able to view events - not edit them, or create new ones. To add that extra functionality, you'll need to download an extension called Provider for Google Calendar.

Thankfully, downloading and installing extensions in Thunderbird is just as simple as it is in Firefox; select 'Add-ons' from the main menu and you'll be presented with a store where you can download and install all kind of extras to enhance your email experience.

Thunderbird is currently in the process of becoming an independent project, so it'll be interesting to see which direction it takes once that happens. For now though, it's an excellent email client, and any features that are missing from its impressive repertoire can be easily patched with downloaded plugins.

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