In this version, Mozilla brings plenty of changes, both visible and under the hood. Please remember that you can install Thunderbird via the usual software sources for any operating system. Linux users may need to find a different repository or just use the package from Mozilla’s website directly as plenty of distributions are possibly keeping Thunderbird 5 hidden away until the next distribution release and keeping you on the 3.1.x track for the time being.
There are plenty of changes sprinkled here and there, but we’ll cover the larger and more noticeable ones.
New Account Creation
As is always the case, the first thing that will greet you when you open Thunderbird is the Mail Account Setup window. In this release, the window has got a slight makeover to make it easier to set up a new email account. Although it looks similar, items on the window are visually simpler, including simple changes such as emphasizing the “Create Account” button by making the other buttons smaller.
User Interface and Tabs
Once you get to the main interface, you’ll notice that there is a more transparent UI if you’re using Windows. As far as I know Mac and Linux users should see little changes with the look of the interface itself. However, all platforms will notice that the tabs look slightly different. Not only have the tabs have a new style, but are more functional as well. Previous versions of Thunderbird did not let you move around tabs, but Thunderbird 5 finally adds this capability.
Probably one of the more major changes to Thunderbird 5 is the completely revamped Add-ons Manager. You can access it under Tools – Add-ons. Once inside, you’ll find many different categories, including a “Thunderbird Collection” of the most commonly used add-ons, other featured add-ons, and upcoming add-ons, and also a link to see themes and Personas. Use it to browse around and find some useful extra functionality that isn’t built into Thunderbird.
Yet another new feature is the “Troubleshooting Information” page. You can access it under Help – Troubleshooting Information. On this page you’ll find loads of more geeky information, including basic information about the version of Thunderbird you are running, email accounts that are set up, extensions (add-ons) that are installed, and any modified advance preferences. This information is very helpful for developers and user support to help resolve an issue that you may be having if you report it on Mozilla’s sites.
Other Minor Changes
Any other changes that I haven’t covered are very, very small. For example, when you receive an email with an attachment, a bar will appear at the bottom telling you about the attachment, now with the attachment’s size. If you would like to see all of the changes, you can check out the release notes that goes with Thunderbird 5.
Although the changes brought by Thunderbird 5 aren’t necessarily major, the changes that are indeed supplied do add another touch of polish to a generally successful email client. Many regular users of Thunderbird should be able to appreciate these changes and look forward to all the other changes still to come in future versions of Thunderbird. Until then we have enough time to enjoy the changes brought by this version.