Post Calendar

November 2011

Thunderbird is go!

So after pretty much a single day of using Thunderbird, Mozilla’s email client, I’ve permanently switched over to using it as my main client – after being a registered user of Ritlabs’ TheBat! for at least a decade. TheBat! has been reliable through the years, but has lacked a few features that I’ve always wished it had but that were never dealbreakers to the program’s continued use. I recall testing Thunderbird quite a while ago and finding it to have a very unfinished feel to it. But just as with Firefox, it apparently just needed a couple of years to mature and include some good user-sourced feature requests. Now, it’s awesome.

One of the things I really like about it is the unified inbox. Because I have multiple email addresses, it’s very useful to have a single virtual view of all of my email account inboxes so that I can read and reply without needing to click around in a folder tree, regardless of the accounts in which new mail has arrived. In addition, Thunderbird has the ability to create virtual views based on realtime "searches". So, for example, you can have a view of all your sent items, which consists of the folders named "Sent", "Sent Items" etc from not only POP3 accounts that have been sucked down into Thunderbird already, but also online-residing folders in IMAP accounts. In practice, what with my multiple Google accounts, this program is actually now allowing me to see sent items from literally years ago that I never knew were still hanging around – giving me the chance to delete and empty trash once and for all and feeding my voracious appetite for fastidious electronic organization in the process.

The addons are another bonus. Just as with Firefox, the program interfaces to an online app store containing plenty of plugins which modify/enhance/just basically add to the user experience. Silvermel is a very appealing skin that really makes me look forwarding to using the app. Am I becoming a glam-whore lately? Probably! The app store automatically detects when addons have been updated and you can update directly from within Thunderbird.

Apart from that, it’s business as usual for the program and I’d say it’s six of one, half dozen of the other versus TheBat!. The fact that I was able to import all of my emails from the other email client was a giant bonus. That was done through the use of a plugin. Betas are coming out for Thunderbird all the time, so in that sense it’s also on a slightly more frequent update schedule than TheBat!.

Anyway, that’s a wrap. Gotta go read and reply to my email.

Mozilla Thunderbird

Folder Menu: quickly jump to commonly-used system folders

imageLiking Folder Menu a lot. It’s a small, configurable app which allows you to switch to commonly-used folders in various apps. You can pop a list of folders up with the middle mouse button (for example) in a standard Windows file selection dialog. Choosing a folder will immediately change the file selector to show the contents of that folder. You can also ask the program to monitor other apps (eg Windows Explorer), or even the desktop. Using the latter functionality, you can choose a folder from the popup and you’ll instantly get an Explorer instance opening to that location. In practice it’s extremely handy for plenty of tasks which require you to browse different locations on your hard drive – saving files from a website, editing documents and plenty more.

The program also allows you to activate certain other functionality from within its popup. A nice touch, which unfortunately increases the time-to-appear by a second or so, is a "drive" menu which will show you the current free space on all your drives. You can also quickly perform tasks such as viewing recent files, restarting your PC, running miscellaneous programs or even visiting a particular website.

Completely free, x86 and x64 versions available. It has now replaced DirectFolders permanently on my system.

Folder Menu


Saw these in Micaël Reynaud’s Google+ feed. Freaking awesome. Lots more there too..


The flip: Firefox to Chrome, and maybe TheBat! to Thunderbird?

imageI find it interesting that over the last year or two I’ve done 180° turnarounds in opinion on various things that I once thought were complete wastes of time, only to turn right back round again later on as the biggest pain points to their use disappeared. Originally I hated Firefox due to the fact that there were a few things that completely wrong with it – long loading times, unable to “open” a file directly from a webpage like Internet Explorer does, and the horrible Find bar. As addons appeared that fixed these things I warmed to it. Witness my post on the topic from 2009. Well, lately I’ve been mildly annoyed with it because quite frankly the load time is starting to piss me right off again – I have a quad core machine and ten seconds for ANY single program to load is completely unacceptable – plus the page rendering is just laggy and I have no idea why. By comparison, Google Chrome is super-fast to load (it always has been) and loading large pages and scrolling up and down, it’s just nippier than Firefox. Very noticeable. So recently, I have copied across many of my common bookmarks to Chrome and started installing some good extensions into it – now using it at home and work and quite pleased. Some things are a bit annoying but I consider the fact that it loads in the blink of an eye to offset those things. This switch may be temporary – we’ll see how long I can last without FF.

So next up, email. At work I use Pop Peeper, a freeware, lightweight mail client, to check my personal mail. It’s done the job for about 3 years but once again there are small annoyances that are causing me to think about getting rid of it. Primarily, I may get an email with HTML in it and then wish to forward that to someone, eg my wife. PP doesn’t forward anything other than plaintext. You can’t EDIT in it other than in plaintext too. You can attach files, but that’s not the point. I want inline rich text etc. Blah blah. So, yesterday at work I installed Mozilla Thunderbird, from the makers of Firefox. It’s a full email client. I looked at it a couple of years ago and hated it. I’ve used Ritlab’s TheBat! for email for something like twelve years now and have been quite happy with it. There’s really nothing wrong with the latter, but I can’t install it at work as I only have a single license. So, freeware it was. Thunderbird, too, appears to be something that Mozilla have finally gotten right. It looks good, has LOTS of options, and best of all has a feature called the Unified view which allows you to view a single global “virtual” inbox that contains emails amalgamated from all your configured accounts. This allows you to reply to emails from multiple sources without needing to flip to different accounts to do so. Just eases the administrative process. I’m liking it a lot so far.

Installed it at home last night. Installed the Bird Import and the Minimize on Start/Close/To Tray extensions. I imported ALL my emails from TheBat! quite easily. I’m going to give it a shot as my regular email client as there are already some things I like about it that are far better than TheBat! (Yes, TheBat!’s official name contains an exclamation mark)

Need to revisit stuff a little more often, methinks! Just wish I had more time. Once again, freeware for the win.

Mozilla Thunderbird

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