For many years, I switched between a whole range of email clients. First I went with Outlook Express. Then I bought a new computer and decided to test the waters with Thunderbird. Once Gmail became popular, I became an avid Gmail user for years. More recently, I’ve started experimenting with Thunderbird again. I keep gravitating back to Thunderbird, because of all email clients it really appears to be the most powerful and robust, with the ability to easily handle and organize as many email accounts as you want.
The one thing that always bothered me about Thunderbird though, compared to using Gmail, is the fact that Gmail simply does a better job at organizing email threads. Only recently did I learn that there are actually a number of very cool Thunderbird add-ons that make Thunderbird rival even Gmail in terms of simplicity and organization.
You’ve seen a number of Thunderbird add-ons featured here at MUO, including Aibek’s older list of must-haves , as well as Damien’s older list of 10 must-haves as well. In this article, I’d like to freshen up those lists with 5 of the best Thunderbird add-ons that I feel transforms the email client into a better email management tool than Gmail.
5 Thunderbird Add-Ons That Enhance Your Email Experience
Most decent email clients these days have the ability to quickly display webpages of URLs that are embedded in E-mail. The last thing you really want is for an entirely new application – your default Internet browser – to open just so that you can view the page.
Enter ThunderBrowse. In my opinion, this significantly enhances Thunderbird. Now you no longer need to depend upon your browser to the URL that your friend forwarded. Just install ThunderBrowse and you’ll have an embedded browser right inside Thunderbird.
There are lots of options you can set to customize how the window behaves, but the most important is to set whether you want the page to open in a new tab, in a new window, or in an external browser (which would kind of defeat the purpose of the add-on!)
When you click the URL, the webpage will appear in the lower pane where you would typically see the email preview. As you can see, the browser window opens in a new tab. You can still see the mail preview by clicking on the “Mail” tab.
Remove Duplicate Messages
Another problem I find that I have whenever I use Thunderbird is the fact that since I have multiple accounts all coming into this one email client, sometimes there are duplicate messages. This can happen for a number of reasons, but in my case I just have messages from an online service getting downloaded to two accounts, so in Thunderbird I receive duplicate emails.
You can deal with these quickly and easily with an addon called Remove Duplicate Messages.
You can configure the addon to compare just the subject and the author, or if you want you could have it compare the entire message, however this will slow down the addon quite a bit. Set it up to delete the first duplicate that it finds. Now, all you have to do is right click on the account that you want to clean up, and click on “Remove Duplicate Messages…” Problem solved!
Another very cool add-on is one called Mailbox Alert. Just like with your cellphone, where you can assign a different ringtone to different callers, with Mailbox Alert, you can actually set up a different Alert and Notification setup depending on which account receives the incoming message. After you install the addon, just right click on the account folder and select “Mailbox Alert“.
The functionality of this add-on is really impressive. Not only can you have it show a customized message and sound for each account, but you can even have the add-on launch a command whenever an email arrives.
If you are into Windows Scripting , then the uses for this kind of thing is really only limited by your imagination. This could be a very powerful email automation tool.
This next add-on is my absolute favorite of all. It solves the biggest problem I had with Thunderbird compared to Gmail. Gmail has always been excellent about organizing emails into conversation threads. Thunderbird – not so much.
With the ThreadVis add-on, you get one of the coolest thread visualizers ever. Now, you’ll see email conversations organized into topic threads, just like on Gmail, but best of all there’s actually a topic timeline displayed in an interesting color-coded visual display, with each sender identified in the timeline by color.
Click on one of the points in the thread timeline, and that email message pops-up. Basically – you can work through an entire email conversation from the convenience of one single email window.
Display Mail User Agent
It’s always nice to have some extra information about the person sending you an email. If you’re curious what email client the person used to send you that email, install the Display Mail User Agent add-on, and you will know. It displays an icon for the email client on the right side of the email header.
Just hover your mouse over the icon to see what client the sender uses. No surprise on this one, James uses Apple Mail, version 2.1084!
As you can see, with just a few extra add-ons and tweaks, you can beef up Thunderbird to rival even Gmail. Try a few (or all) of these add-ons out, and let us know what you think!
Are you a Thunderbird fan? Have these add-ons convinced you to try it out? Share your experiences and thoughts in the comments section below!