35. Freeware Thunderbird zaps
By Mark Alberstat
On an average day, the mail servers at Chebucto Community Net receive
about 100,000 pieces of e-mail. Unfortunately, only about five per cent
are legitimate e-mails. The rest is a variety of spam and viruses. Thanks
to spam and virus filtering, most of that junk never reaches the intended
At the other end of the thousands of legitimate e-mails is a wide range of
e-mail clients. Some users simply use the web-mail services offered by
their providers, while most use some type of e-mail client such as
Microsoft Outlook. These are generally called POP accounts (POP stands for
post office protocol) and come in two varieties, POP2 and POP3. POP3 is
the newer version of the two.
Although Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express have a huge presence in the
marketplace, one freebie client that has been coming on strong in recent
months is Mozilla's Thunderbird.
Like its space-age puppet counterparts, Thunderbird can rescue you from a
myriad of problems, and the latest release (Version 0.6) is quickly
gaining recognition for its "junk mail" controls. With many other e-mail
clients, the user has to create filters to sort out the junk from the good
mail. With Thunderbird, it is as easy as going into the tools and then the
junk mail controls, the adaptive filters tab and enabling the adaptive
junk mail detection option. A similar service is available for other POP
clients but as add-on applications, such as Norton's AntiSpam, which runs
around $40 to $50.
Not only is Thunderbird a great program to use, it is also free. By using
it, you are throwing your support behind the idea of open-source software
and all that it stands for. Another advantage of it being an open-source
product is that it is constantly being worked on with more and better
features in the works.
Thunderbird is also not a Windows-only application. Although the latest
version does have a Windows installer, there are also versions for Linux
and Mac OS X. The Apple-heads will be happy to hear that version 0.6 has a
new pinstripe theme that fits in nicely with the overall look of that OS.
The Mozilla site also links to unofficial builds of Thunderbird that come
in such flavours as Solaris, Java Desktop, French, German and Norwegian.
Another great feature of Thunderbird is that it avoids being bloated,
over-produced software by its broad use of extensions. For Thunderbird,
extensions are small programs, or plug-ins, that add new functions to the
base download. These functions can be anything from a toolbar button to a
calendar or instant weather feature. There are 42 extensions available,
and all are free of charge and found at the main Thunderbird site.
For those who are as interested in style as well as substance, Thunderbird
has a variety of downloadable themes that change the overall look of the
program but not its functionality. The 35 themes run the gamut from A-W,
starting with Apollo, which is based on GANT icons, to Walnut, which has a
wood-grain look to the icons and task bar. One caveat about the themes,
however, is that not all have been updated for the recent release.
Although no e-mail programs are perfect, Thunderbird offers excellent
anti-spam capabilities, along with some customization options that are all
well worth the look if you're inundated by spam or would like to consider
To download the latest version of Thunderbird go to:
For an article on the junk mail filter with Netscape that also applies to
Thunderbird go to:
For an extensive article on installing and using Thunderbird go to:
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Originally published 30 May 2004