Mozilla Thunderbird 52 Review - Free Email Program


Mozilla Thunderbird
Mozilla Corporation

The Bottom Line

Mozilla Thunderbird is a fully featured, secure and very functional email and chat client plus RSS feed reader. It lets you handle mail efficiently and with style, and Mozilla Thunderbird filters away junk mail too.
At the same time, Mozilla Thunderbird could be more helpful with showing related information, suggesting labels or folders, for example.
Mozilla Thunderbird is no longer actively developed (except for security updates).


  • Views, tags, filters, fast search and smart folders help you manage mail in Mozilla Thunderbird
  • Mozilla Thunderbird gets rid of junk mail precisely using Bayesian filtering and detects scams, too
  • Mozilla Thunderbird lets you reads RSS feeds like streams of email and includes chat (for many a protocol), too


  • Mozilla Thunderbird does not show related messages, sites, documents, posts, etc.
  • The Mozilla Thunderbird RSS feed reader could be integrated better and offer more power
  • Mozilla Thunderbird could be more helpful by suggesting tags or reply text, for example


  • Mozilla Thunderbird lets you manage multiple POP and IMAP (as well as select OAuth 2) email accounts and reads RSS feeds.
  • A self-learning junk mail filter cans spam in Mozilla Thunderbird, which can detect scam messages as well.
  • Mail views, free-form message tags, and flexible filters let you organize and prioritize good mail easily.
  • Mozilla Thunderbird finds messages fast and lets you filter results comfortably by date, contact and more.
  • Searches can be saved to virtual folders that automatically aggregate relevant mail in Thunderbird.
  • Mozilla Thunderbird offers rich HTML formatting conscious of your computer's security and your privacy.
  • S/MIME support lets you encrypt and sign mail in Mozilla Thunderbird (with an OpenPGP plug-in available as well).
  • In addition to sending files as direct attachments, Mozilla Thunderbird can automatically upload them to a file sending service and keep the email messages themselves small.
  • A built-in chat and instant messaging client lets you connect with and exchange messages via Facebook Chat, Google Chat, Yahoo! Messenger, IRC, XMPP and Twitter.
  • You can run Mozilla Thunderbird from a removable medium such as a USB stick.
  • Many extensions more allow Mozilla Thunderbird to expand its feature set (with a calendar, for example, which is installed by default) or improve usability.
  • Mozilla Thunderbird supports Windows XP/2003/Vista/7, Mac OS X 10.5-8 and Linux. (Tenfourbird makes certain version of Mozilla Thunderbird available on Mac OS X 10.4 and PowerPC Macs.)

Expert Review - Mozilla Thunderbird 52

Mozilla Thunderbird offers a pretty and streamlined interface to a very powerful email package. Not only is Mozilla Thunderbird a secure email client; not only does sophisticated spam filter knock out most junk mail (and certain emails applying scam tactics as well); Mozilla Thunderbird also helps you organize and find the good mail.

Flexible views, free-form tags, powerful filters and virtual folders (which also work fine with IMAP accounts and across email accounts) make it a snap to handle large amounts of mail. To find the small number of emails needed now, Mozilla Thunderbird sports fast search with a spiffy interface: a timeline shows when the emails arrived and lets you focus on certain periods, too; filters (starred, sent, attachment,…) show and focus on the message type; folders, tags and, most importantly, contacts let you concentrate on people fast; snippets in results help telling results apart.

Unfortunately, there's little immediate interaction to be had with the messages thus found.

You can open them or open the results like a traditional folder. To change search criteria, it's back to the spiffy search page. At least the two lists open side by side in tabs — which let you keep tabs on multiple emails, too.

There, as well as when you open multiple emails at once, Mozilla Thunderbird shows a short message summary, which could be better condensing the essence. In the conversation view, though, the summaries handily hide quoted text. Unfortunately, the view does not merge mail from the inbox and sent mail folders, for example, and Mozilla Thunderbird lacks a way to hide quoted text fast in individual messages.

It would also be great for Mozilla Thunderbird to leverage its (junk mail) classifier to sort good mail further. It could suggest tags and folders, for example, or even text snippets for use in replies. Speaking of relevant bits, Mozilla Thunderbird could employ its impressive search abilities to show mail, people, and attachments related to the message you are viewing or composing. It's somewhat difficult to even find previous messages exchanged with a sender, for example: you have to rely on Mozilla Thunderbird auto-completing the contact as you type it into the search field. Integration with social networking sites and blogs is nowhere to be seen either except for the integrated chat client, of course.

That built-in chat (with support for Google Talk, Facebook Chat, XMPP, IRC, and Twitter) is versatile and lets you exchange instant messages with contacts and group chats in channels easily.

Transcripts are saved automatically and show up handily in Mozilla Thunderbird search. Other than that, chatting is mostly disjointed from Mozilla Thunderbird's email part — safe for a menu entry in Address Book maybe.

The HTML support is near-perfect, of course, but Mozilla Thunderbird also deserves praise for its fine plain text editing. Basic functions for saving, editing and using message templates are present and functional, too.

Should you ever require a feature not in the stock Mozilla Thunderbird distribution, an extension might well provide it.

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