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From time to time, I try-out different mail clients, hoping to find the ideal solution. Of course, no luck so far. So, what would be an ideal mail client for me? It needs to:

Thunderbird does not look good to me: it looks like all the ingenuity went to icons and GUI staff, I see no major functionality benefits in comparison with tried and true Netscape Messenger that I use at home. But Netscape Messenger is not scriptable and mail filter does not accept regular expressions.  That's the problem for me.

Lotus Notes (that I use at work) is scriptable and has a powerful API (it is essentially a database, not a email client). Still because of its database roots Lotus Notes sucks in it's own way. In earlier versions has a very strange interface although in 6.5 it became closer to normal Windows interface and is much less annoying  (old joke was: out of 10 users only one does not like Lotus Notes interface; then other nine hate it, hate it, hate it ;-). Still even in version 6.5 mail filtering rules implementation is completely abysmal and is a sign of IBM programmers degradation. But even with its faults Lotus Notes 6.5 and above are pretty competitive email clients  for the enterprise environment as they avoid problems with stream of Outlook vulnerabilities that creates mess in enterprise environment.

I heard good things about The Bat!. For example the Bat! has had Saved Searches for a while. But I never used it myself.

There are a lot of high quality command line SMTP mailers for Windows available. Blat is probably the most popular. It was developed by Pedro Mendes and Mark Neal at the University of Wales at Aberystwyth.  There is also command line client for Lotus Notes, see alphaWorks Lotus Notes Command Line Email Client.

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[Mar 12, 2007] Setting up Blat

Troubleshooting Blat

[Dec 20, 2006] Review Thunderbird 2.0 Beta 1 Adds New Look And Feel - News by InformationWeek

The first version of Thunderbird was worse then Netscape Messenger (virtual search folders were nice though). This one might bet old Messenger.

By Ron Miller

Dec 18, 2006 09:23 AM

Mozilla, the developer of the free Thunderbird e-mail client, has taken a good program and made it better with the release of the version 2.0 beta 1. It's rare that a beta release isn't buggy, clunky, and generally a mess -- especially when, as word has it, the developers are changing the code base -- but I was pleasantly surprised by its stability and the dearth of issues.

Luckily, Mozilla hasn't made the mistake of fixing what ain't broke. Thunderbird 2.0 will still include free extensions to add functionality and themes to change the look and feel at your whim. The spam filter still catches most spam before it clogs your inbox, and it still includes a terrific search function and built-in RSS. Mozilla also has made some welcome changes without breaking anything in the process, but there are features that could still use some work.

I downloaded the installation program and installed without an issue. The install found all my mail, folders, and settings and imported them seamlessly into the new version without prompting. My Thunderbird 1.5 extensions and themes didn't have version 2.0 equivalents, but that's to be expected when the beta was only recently released.

There is a distinct difference in the look and feel of the application. Mozilla has updated the toolbar, brightened and changed the icons, and made the interface generally more pleasant and readable. For instance, the icon that lets you flag your e-mail messages is now a gold star, which is much more visible than the small red flag in the older version.

When mail arrives, the system tray utility not only informs you that there is new mail (as in previous versions) but also lists the first several e-mails. Unfortunately, it displays for such a short time, it's hard to read much beyond the first item or two, but the additional information lets you make an informed decision about whether or not to switch to your inbox. While you can customize how much detail you see in these alerts, you cannot affect the timing of the display, something that might be nice to add before final release.

In the in-box, you can place the cursor over any folder marked with new mail and you get a list of all the new e-mails inside, another handy new feature. Once inside the folder, you can see all new mail at a glance because of the nifty new-mail icon (an orange asterisk).

Warning Of Dangerous E-Mail
As in the previous version, Thunderbird warns you about e-mails with links to external images and those it considers possibly dangerous or false. As a result, it won't display images until you click a Show Images button. Thunderbird 2.0 enables you choose to always allow images in certain e-mails -- clicking a link opens the address book, which whitelists the e-mail. While this is a welcome change, it would have been faster if Thunderbird simply whitelisted the e-mail without opening the address book. It also would be nice if Mozilla could apply a similar principle to the mail it thinks is a possible scam, so that you can whitelist these as well.

In addition, Mozilla has expanded the Tag feature in this version, a long-overdue change. Instead of being limited to five default tags as in previous versions, you can create as many custom tags as you like, applying a different color to each one, then using the filter or sort features to organize tagged e-mail.

The RSS feature has been dressed up with new icons and the same ability to place the cursor over a feed and see the new items, but beyond that hasn't changed very much. The current system requires that you know how to access the Subscriptions dialog and makes you copy and paste the subscription link from Firefox into Thunderbird. Mozilla should provide a no-brainer subscription process that walks the user through the process of adding a new feed in 2.0.

And one small pet peeve: Thunderbird still doesn't provide the ability to create multiple signatures, a feature I miss from my Outlook Express days.

For the most part, as with previous versions, Thunderbird 2.0 Beta 1 continues to shine. While there's still plenty of work to be done, when you consider this is beta software, it's especially impressive and the new features make this free e-mail client even better.

[Dec 20, 2005] Mozilla revamps Netscape Application Suite into SeaMonkey 1.0 beta was released.

Mozilla's suite of browser and email programs is getting a makeover. The new suite, dubbed SeaMonkey, contains an Internet browser, email program, IRC chat client and a basic web page maker. Mozilla's goal is to develop a package that is "stable enough for corporate use", while keeping the familiar look of its previous Mozilla Application Suite.

What's New in SeaMonkey 1.0 Beta

Slashdot Thunderbird 0.9 Released

"Thunderbird 0.9 is now available for download! New features include Saved Search Folders (aka Virtual Folders) which allow you to display messages based on previously set search criteria across multiple folders. Message Grouping allows you to organize e-mail in a folder by grouping them based on various attributes like Date, Sender, Label, etc. Thunderbird 0.9 also includes numerous bug fixes and other improvements. For more information, see the release notes. Builds can be found on the FTP server or in the release notes above."

also Lotus Notes (Score:4, Informative)
by dominux (731134) on Thursday November 04, @10:04AM (#10723254)
the way Notes stores mail is a little different in concept to most other things, folders don't "contain" messages, messages exist in their own right in the database irrespective of what folders they might be in. It is perfectly valid for a message to exist without any folders including the message. Folders in Notes can have documents dragged into them which stores that association and you can get to the message through the folder. A saved search is what would be called a view in Notes, that is a folder which is based on a selection formula rather than manual fileing. It is perfectly valid also for one message to be shown in many many folders and views, but delete it from one it is deleted from all. Deleting a message is very different from removing it from a folder. Views and folders can also be categorised, this is basically the same thing as the group by feature. Notes views are indexed rather than calculated on the fly so I suspect they would be quicker for large mail files.

Notes of course isn't open source and you can only do limited view customisation without the design client, I do like the user interface for creating these saved searches, it is better than creating a private view in Notes.

Re:also Lotus Notes (Score:2)
by afd8856 (700296) on Thursday November 04, @11:23AM (#10724567)
Chandler [] is an open source application that is intended to replace and revolutionize PIM and messaging. At least one team member worked on Lotus Agenda. So, with a bit of luck you might get in the near future a replacement for your Notes :)
Here you go (Score:5, Informative)
by Nevenmrgan (826707) on Thursday November 04, @09:43AM (#10723015)
There is, of course, an extension that adds this functionality: [] Happy extending.
Saved Searches sounds good but... (Score:5, Interesting)
by samael (12612) <[email protected]> on Thursday November 04, @09:35AM (#10722923)
I'd like to be able to tag messages with meta-data (like "To Do" or "Mum's Birthday" or "Project 257") and then be able to produce searches based on that.
Re:Saved Searches sounds good but... (Score:1)
by laurens (151193) on Thursday November 04, @09:56AM (#10723160)
There are five labels you can attach to the selected messages by pressing [1]-[5] on your keyboard.

By default, they are named "Important" (Red), etc., but you can edit them to read "Mum's birthday" if you want.

The limit of 5 is probably a bit low, though, and it does not sync back to my IMAP server, so it could be more useful. Anyway, HTH.

Re:Saved Searches sounds good but... (Score:2)
by jd142 (129673) on Thursday November 04, @10:01AM (#10723234)
Is there a reason Labels won't work? There look to be only 5 labels available, but you can customize their meaning. In contrast, Outlook has Categories which appear to be expandable to an arbitrary number of categories and Eudora has 7 customizable labels.
What about performance and memory usage? (Score:5, Interesting)
by kbahey (102895) on Thursday November 04, @09:36AM (#10722925)
This is not to disparage Thunderbird or anything. Thunderbird is one of two mail user agents (MUA) I use regularly, the other being plain old mutt when I am connected to the home server using ssh.

The issue with Thunderbird is not functionality, but rather bloat. It takes up a lot of memory and is slow. Compared to for example, FireFox, on the same machine.

Re:buggy? (Score:5, Informative)
by mkoenecke (249261) <.ude.drofrevah.mula. .ta. .ekceneokm.> on Thursday November 04, @09:46AM (#10723050)
No worries; I've been using it for a couple of years now (I'm an attorney who uses it for both business and personal e-mail). I have not had even one problem with reliability or stability.

Remember, it's a fork off of the Mozilla project, which has been past 1.0 for quite some time.

Re:Question for the Outlook "switchers" (Score:4, Informative)
by gclef (96311) on Thursday November 04, @09:57AM (#10723182)
There are a few reasons I use it for my home email:

1) Mouse gestures. I'm on a lot of mailing lists, and being able to specify common actions as a gesture (right-click & drag right to select the next unread message, for example) saves me a lot of time digging through lists like Full-Disclosure.

2) Message threading. It's not perfect, but it helps a lot to be able to group messages by thread (I think new versions of Outlook can do this, but my 2000 version can not).

3) The Baysean filtering is nice, but as you've mentioned, you already have that.

4) Themes. Yeah, it's trivial, but still...they're fun.

Re:Question for the Outlook "switchers" (Score:5, Interesting)
by Nevenmrgan (826707) on Thursday November 04, @10:05AM (#10723266)
- It's faster than Outlook (though slower than Firefox). In the latest Outlook, message rendering can take up to a few seconds - the UI is just not very responsive.

- Leaner UI overall. I like Outlook's corporate functions, but I just don't use them that often at work, and never at home. Also, Outlook suffers from having 15 different ways to get to your folders - they keep adding new panels and icons. I don't consider this a good thing at all, since it rarely - if ever - increases my productivity or improves my user experience. It just makes me click around idly.

- Significantly faster (and better) quicksearch (there are even rumors of search-as-you-type in the future!)

- As with any other Mozilla product, they listen to the users' comments. If a reasonable, much-requested feature doesn't make it to the release, I'll bet my hat there's an extension that does it.

- Shockingly, it's a better client for Ma and Pa User. Fewer buttons, leaner out of the box, no office environment mumbo jumbo. (I'm not even going to take seriously suggestions to use Outlook Express in that case.)

Re:Question for the Outlook "switchers" (Score:5, Insightful)
by nvivo (739176) on Thursday November 04, @10:12AM (#10723355)
My reasons to switch:

1. Profile, preferences, rules, contacts, etc are easy to backup. You can have all your files in one place and you choose where.

2. IMAP support in Outlook really sucks... in a way i can`t even describe it. Thunderbird is perfect with IMAP, and no need to purge messages manually...

3. Saved Search folders in 0.9 are great. They are like views in databases, but for your messages.

4. RSS support to keep you up with the news.

5. Great extensions makes Thunderbird even better.

6. It looks much better than Outlook Express.

Re:Question for the Outlook "switchers" (Score:4, Interesting)
by truthsearch (249536) on Thursday November 04, @10:28AM (#10723650)
( | Last Journal: Tuesday May 11, @08:32AM)
In addition to what other posters have listed,

- Administration - One simple screen for e-mail accounts and another simple screen for other configuration options. I find the Outlook barrage of configuration windows and tabs VERY annoying. It's also difficult to see exactly how POP/IMAP e-mail accounts are configured in Outlook. If you see the options in Thunderbird you'll see what I mean.

- These new Virtual Folders (mail's not really moved into them, but it's a view over all your mail based on criteria you specify). I use Outlook 2002 (XP) at work and I don't see any way to do the same without creating rules to copy mail to folders.

- Message threads. I see no way to do this in Outlook 2002.

- Less features. Outlook has more features, but I don't have any use for most of them. So Thunderbird is less cluttered for me.

Re:Question for the Outlook "switchers" (Score:5, Informative)
by Ark42 (522144) <[email protected]> on Thursday November 04, @10:45AM (#10723935)
I have trouble getting many people to switch to TB even though they quickly took up FF. The things keeping back these people I know that are now using FF + Outlook are:

1) Buttons work differently, such as the delete button doesn't also close the message if you opened the message in a new Window (These type of problems are solvable with the Buttons! extension)

2) The context menu for Copy To and Move To is very annoying for them to use since they typically have 100s of folders nested across their accounts, and they can't seem to find the folder they want fast enough, where as Outlook will just pop up a little window with a folder tree for Copy/Move operations.

3) The address book contacts editor has most of the useful information on the first tab, but the Company Title and Notes section are on the 2nd and 3rd tab, and users find it annoying to have to use these extra tabs for such common pieces of information, when all the other stuff on the 2nd and 3rd tab is unused. Somehow, they wan't those two fields duplicated onto the main tab for the contacts editor.

4) Having to open the address book in a new window, and the contacts sidebar tab really doesn't help anybody I suggested it to here. Users really seem to wait a contacts folder in their folder list to see the list of contacts.

5) The contacts list is not easily sortable like Outlook and blank fields seem to sort above A forcing them to sort Z-A and scroll down to find the stuff in the middle. I guess they just want A-Z sorting to put blanks after Z.

Re:Question for the Outlook "switchers" (Score:2)
by Ark42 (522144) <[email protected]> on Thursday November 04, @10:47AM (#10723978)

Also, the calendar issues too:

6) Nobody wants to leave the calendar window open in order to get alerts.

Re:Question for the Outlook "switchers" (Score:2)
by mikefe (98074) <<mikefe> <at> <>> on Friday November 05, @11:42PM (#10740343)
Testing these against TB 0.9:

a) Double click on message to open in new window
b1) click on delete in window deletes that message and opens the next message
b2) go to message list and delete message in open window -- the window closes and the message is deleted

2. Valid point.
a) I suggest you work in the 3-pane view so that you can drag and drop the messages in the tree on the left.

It would be hard to search for that one, and would need some time to come up with a good bug report.

What exact functionality and presentation of information are they missing? I would need a lot more details to make a good bug report.

5. Good point.

I'll do some searches through the bugzilla database and see what I find. In the mean time, can you post some details on I asked. Thanks.

Re:I want a "Export to mysql" option (Score:1)
by anaplasmosis (567440) on Thursday November 04, @09:54AM (#10723138)
No. Databases suck for handling free text.
[ Reply to This | Parent ]
Re:I want a "Export to mysql" option (Score:1, Insightful)
by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 04, @10:03AM (#10723249)
wouldn't it be nice to be able to file messages in a real database?

What's that got to do with mysql?

[ Reply to This | Parent ]
Perhaps with an IMAP server (Score:2)
by jesterzog (189797) on Thursday November 04, @05:56PM (#10729359)
Storing email in a database would be an interesting way to do things, but it sounds a bit overly complex for most mail readers out there... most of which (rightly, I think) spend the bulk of their effort focusing on the front end and actually reading the mail. Also, the word "export" seems to imply that you don't want to keep the database up-to-date with your email in real time.

I think it'd be very interesting to see an IMAP server that would manage mail folders in a database, though. That'd take a lot of stress off the folder managing complexity away from the mail reading client.

Someone else who replied mentioned that databases suck for handling free text. In my experience, they're at least as good as any other format, and they tend to have a much more established way of organising text indexes for any searching that's needed. The headers on emails can easily be separated for separate indexing and searching away from the body text, and even the body text can be indexed with real full-text indexes. (I'm not sure how well MySql supports that, but there's at least one contributed extension to PostgreSQL (tsearch2) that does full text indexing nicely.

Forward Wrap (Score:5, Interesting)
by jeffehobbs (419930) on Thursday November 04, @10:35AM (#10723761)
One of the major annoyances my company is finding during our internal Thunderbird testing is this freakish behavior:

1) user gets email.

2) user replies to email, text wraps correctly.

3) user forwards email and the text does not wrap at all, but instead runs off the screen horizontally causing annoying readability issues.

Does anyone know why this is? It still appears to be in Thunderbird 0.9. I'm confused as to if it is a bug or by design []. If it's a bug, it's kind of a big one. If it's by design, it's kind of a poor design and there should be an option or preference to have "reply" and "forward" act consistently.

Otherwise, Thunderbird ROCKS -- nice work Thunderbird developers. It's fast, free and just getting better and better with each release.


p.s. Inline spell check would be nice

Thunderbird Mail Project Page

Mozilla Thunderbird is a redesign of the Mozilla mail component. Our goal is to produce a cross platform stand alone mail application using the XUL user interface language. Our intended customer is someone who uses Mozilla Firefox (or another stand alone browser) as their primary browser and wants a mail client based on mozilla that "plays nice" with the browser. In addition, by focusing solely on stand alone mail, we believe we can make some dents in the overall footprint and performance of the mail client by removing components and chrome we don't need. On top of that, the UI becomes much cleaner as a stand alone application as opposed to being part of the mozilla suite.

In addition to the feature set found in Mozilla Mail, Mozilla Thunderbird has several new features and improvements to make your mail and new experience better. Highlights include:


Download: (1 hit)
Homepage: (3 hits)

MsToNs will convert your Microsoft Outlook Express and Internet Mail e-mail folders to Netscape e-mail folders. Using Outlook Express you can convert Outlook 9X and other e-mail formats as well.

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A Beginner's Guide to Effective Email - Style Guide from University of Illinois
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Scripting language based mailers


MH use shell as scripting language. To achieve this possibility in MH, each command is a separate program, and the shell is used as an interpreter. So all the features of UNIX shells (pipes, redirection, history, aliases, and so on) work with MH -- you don't have to learn a new interface.

MH is an incredibly rich and flexible email environment. The difference between MH and other mail systems reminds me of the difference between a wide-open powerful operating system like UNIX and a more-restricted environment like Microsoft Windows. At first, the limited environment looks good because it's simpler: the system designer gave you a limited set of choices -- usually with menus that remind you of the (limited) choices you have. But once you reach the limits and want to do more, you may be out of luck. Starting with MH really isn't that difficult -- and, with the flexibility you'll gain (whether you do the customization or someone else does), there's almost no limit to what you can do with email under MH.

One more advantage of MH is the "user-friendly" interfaces that have been designed for it. This book covers three of them: xmh, mh-e, and exmh. If you don't like working at the UNIX command line all of the time, these interfaces make MH commands easier to use: they execute the standard MH commands for you. When you need to do something more, you can go to a UNIX command line and type MH commands. Switching between standard MH commands and the three front-ends to MH takes little or no time.

Ratatosk - TkRat -- mailer

ArrowMail is a powerful yet simple to install Web-Based Email package that supports MIME messages, attachments, automatic signup and is fully customizable to your web sites design.


Sebastian Schaffert - October 19th 1998, 03:34 EST WebMail is a WWW-front end to a Unix system mailbox written in perl. Unix users have complete access to their mail using a WWW browser. WebMail is highly configurable using templates, has folder and MIME support, link highlighting, smiley substitution and more.

WebMail 0.3.0
WebMail is a WWW-frontend to a Unix system mailbox written in perl. Unix users have complete access to their mail using a WWW browser. WebMail is highly configurable using templates, has folder and MIME support, link highlighting, smiley substitution and more.

WebMail 0.3.0 now supports multiple folders on multiple hosts. The look'n'feel has changed very much and several bugfixes are included.

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Accessing the Internet by E-MAIL

Converters and postprocessors

WebMailFolder 1.0.3

WebMailFolder is a tool to convert Emails to HTML and make index files (author, data, subject, thread). Features include threading, mime support, Base64 and uuencode support, statistics page, extended configuration and frame support.
Norbert Kuemin @ 11/12/98 - 17:22 EST

Win32 Command Line Mailers

Blat is probably the most popular. It was developed by Pedro Mendes and Mark Neal at the University of Wales at Aberystwyth.

Command Line SMTP Mailer for Windows

AlphaWorks Lotus Notes Command Line Email Client Overview -- this one is for Lotus Notes not SMTP.

Random Findings

fetchmail -- A free mail-retrieval program which works with POP2, POP3, RPOP, APOP, KPOP and IMAP.



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