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Replacement For Mozilla Thunderbird? 388

maxcelcat writes: I've used Thunderbird for about a decade, and Netscape Mail before that (I have an email from 1998 from Marc Andreessen, welcoming me to Netscape Email, telling me different fonts can add impact to my emails). Thunderbird has served me well, but it's getting long in the tooth. Given the lack of development and the possibility that it's going End of Life, what should I use instead? I have multiple email accounts and an archive of sixteen years of email. I could get a copy of Outlook, but I don't like it.

Things I like about Thunderbird: Supports multiple email accounts; simple interface; storage structure is not one monolithic file; plain text email editor; filtering. Things I don't like: HTML email editor; folders are hard to change and re-arrange.
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Replacement For Mozilla Thunderbird?

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  • by Kludge ( 13653 ) on Friday December 18, 2015 @02:16PM (#51144741)

    I was just thinking of switching to Thunderbird from pine.

    • Re:Replacement?? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Friday December 18, 2015 @02:24PM (#51144809)
      The last time I used pine was 20 years ago. Those were the days. A 56K dial-up account on a UNIX server to browse the Internet in a text-based web browser called Lynx. The Internet was blazingly fast back then. No need to wait for Flash content, every social media icon, and the kitchen sink to load.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        I still use both Pine (actually its successor Alpine) and Lynx, on a 15000K broadband account. Eliminating needless decorative clutter is still useful.

        • by chipschap ( 1444407 ) on Friday December 18, 2015 @03:20PM (#51145361)

          I love Gnus[1] and have used it for years. However 2016 may not be the year of Gnus on the desktop.

          [1] It does everything the article asks for: plain text composition, multiple feeds/accounts, filtering, not one monolithic file, folder flexibility, ease-of-use ... oh, wait. Hold the phone on that last one. There is, um, a learning curve.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        We've lost the arms race for content over presentation in this medium. Pages with perhaps a kilobyte of text take over a megabyte to download and 10 seconds to render. Firefox is mortally wounded. Safari and Opera are hobbled. Chrome is a trojan horse.

        Guys, I think the Gopher people were right.

      • by sootman ( 158191 )

        In early 1997, Netscape Navigator 3 had been out for a while and Netscape 4 was released shortly after 56 modems came out. Lynx on a 56k line is not much different from Lynx on a 14.4. The Web was just fine in Netscape 3 with images off and a 28.8 or 33.6. []

        • I had a DOS box at the time. If I wanted to browse the Internet, I had to dial up the UNIX account and run Lynx.
    • Re:Replacement?? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by al0ha ( 1262684 ) on Friday December 18, 2015 @02:51PM (#51145081) Journal
      I still use Mutt - never been a reason to change, though it can be kind of annoying these days since many mail clients no longer adhere to the RFC and only send HTML; of course then it also makes it easy to identify the spammer/marketer emails and trash them with a quick macro. :P

      Mutt rules!

    • by AntEater ( 16627 )

      I still use (Al)Pine as my every day email program. It is still maintained and works well. Once you've learned just a few of the key bindings, it is very efficient for reading as well as doing general message and folder management - much, much faster than a silly GUI interface.

      • I switched from Thunderbird to Alpine many years ago because I simply lack the patience to deal with modern GUI mail programs. Funny thing how Eudora in 1995 was fast and efficient on WFWG on a 386 CPU with a slow modem on a noisy phone line while modern GUI email progams seem to take forever. I'm told that is called progress.

        Handling attachments is kind of klunky in Alpine though. If I got a lot of emails with attachments that I actually wanted to look at, I suppose I'd use some GUI monstrosity. BTW, A

    • by Z00L00K ( 682162 )

      What about Elm?

  • End of life? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by maeka ( 518272 ) on Friday December 18, 2015 @02:16PM (#51144743) Journal

    1 - What does "end of life" mean in this context?


    It is a mature (pretty) full-featured email client with a plugin architecture which is good enough.

    2 - Lack of development.

    See point #1

    • Besides the obvious security issues, mail isn't as static as you think.

      Think about the iterations that Apple's had to do to deal with how Google deal with tags... where a tagged mail could be in multiple Folders, and the All Mail tag. What if GMail adds something else? They already did things with Inbox that change how tags are used.

      • Re:End of life? (Score:4, Informative)

        by stu72 ( 96650 ) on Friday December 18, 2015 @04:16PM (#51145839)

        I think you've got it backwards.

        It's not that Google "deals with tags" in some new and novel way, it's that the underlying protocol, IMAP, has no support for any such concept at all. IMAP just has folders and the unstated assumption is that a given piece of mail is only ever in one folder. However, Google made tags look like folders to IMAP clients, but of course, they are not actually folders.

    • ...a plugin architecture...

      A plug-in architecture is good when/if the plug-ins are of similar quality to the software they are plugging in to. I've run in to some seriously buggy Thunderbird plugins.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 18, 2015 @02:16PM (#51144749)

    An ever changing system is an unstable system

    The fact they do not require frequent updates, is maybe a good thing. Loook at Firefox. look at the bloat that has become.

    SMTP /POP/ IMAP is just that, it has been defined years ago.

    Any admin will tell you, a stable system does not need to be baby sitted or changed often. A stable system is just that. Stable, that includes the code.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 18, 2015 @03:10PM (#51145233)

      The problem with Firefox isn't that there's change.

      The problem with Firefox is that the changes are fucking idiotic. We aren't talking about one or two bad ones now and then. Far too many of the changes to Firefox are dumb, dumb, dumb!

      Those are the kinds of changes that are unwanted, because they cause problems for users.

      But users still want positive change.

      They want bug fixes. They want performance improvements. They want support for new features and functionality that they desire.

      This is another area where Firefox devs fuck up. They rarely make changes that the Firefox users actually want!

      Firefox's approach to change is upside down. Firefox typically includes lots of unwanted changes, with very few wanted changes. That's what drives users away, sending Firefox's share of the market from the mid-30% range down to single-digits.

      It should be the other way around. Firefox should include lots of wanted changes, and few to no unwanted changes. That would drive Firefox's share of the market up, as existing users would not leave, and new users would use it to get access to the new changes that they want to use.

    • by JMJimmy ( 2036122 ) on Friday December 18, 2015 @03:15PM (#51145297)

      The problem isn't the client itself, it's the fact that it needs a built in browser for HTML emails, which requires security updates.

      • Losing HTML in email is a bad thing?

        • Actually, I think it is. Once upon a time I would have been right there with you but the email ecosystem has evolved to the point where it's a mainstay and an important feature to support. I don't think JavaScript or the like have a place, but CSS/HTML absolutely do.

  • Claws Mail (Score:5, Informative)

    by LichtSpektren ( 4201985 ) on Friday December 18, 2015 @02:19PM (#51144771)
    Claws Mail is a good option. It might not have all the features that Thunderbird does, but the important things are that it's FLOSS, supports encryption, and "just works".

    Alternatively, just use webmail. These are the best options: []
    • Re:Claws Mail (Score:5, Interesting)

      by fnj ( 64210 ) on Saturday December 19, 2015 @12:45AM (#51148577)

      Second the recommendation for Claws Mail. If I leave my Thunderbird open and exercise it for several days it grows to 6 GB RAM use and beyond. There does not appear to be any way to set an upper bound. That is unacceptable, inexcusable, and an incompetent and moronic design. Watch your PC get driven into thrashing the page file and I guarantee you will know what rage is. For a while I thought I could run with no swap (I have 16 GB RAM), but behavior is even more pathological and irrecoverable when you run into the memory wall with no paging.

      I have seen Claws Mail grow to around 0.4 GB; no more - even if left open and exercised INDEFINITELY.

      There are some huge, commanding wins for Claws Mail over and above the RAM win clincher:
      1) Threaded view, easily/quickly toggled on/off.
      2) View shows headers in line; I happen to prefer that to a second scrolling pane.
      3) I found the accounts setup to be more rational and well organized than it is in TB. I have a LOT of accounts set up.

      There are a few negatives with Claws Mail:
      1) No HTML support beyond a hokey plugin. Idiots do send me HTML mail. You can't stop them; I've tried.
      2) No Unified Inbox.
      3) Seems really slow to sync hotmail and gmail.
      4) I found the PGP plugin harder to set up than Enigmail in TB.
      5) The accounts setup does not have the cool auto-detect you get in TB. Even if you fine tune the setup, the auto-detect is great for getting you going.

      • Second the recommendation for Claws Mail. If I leave my Thunderbird open and exercise it for several days it grows to 6 GB RAM use and beyond.

        You already knew that somebody would say this, but it's likely that one of your plugins is bad. Would you mind mentioning the plugins that you use? I use Conversations and Virtual Identity plugins, and I'll have Thunderbird open for _weeks_ at a time with no issue. And I'm a rather heavy user.

      • by dskoll ( 99328 )

        I too agree with the Claws Mail recommendation. I think the HTML plugin is OK; note that there are two HTML plugins: One called "Fancy HTML Viewer" based on WebKit and another called "gtkhtml" (I think) that no longer seems to be maintained. The "fancy" one is pretty good; the old gtkhtml one was indeed hokey.

        Another plugin that's quite nice is the vCalendar plugin; it handles Outlook invitations and the like quite nicely.

  • No mention of platform. What system(s) do you need it to run on?

    • by nman64 ( 912054 )

      This! You might also mention who hosts your email, as that might impact your experience as well.

      The operating system you are using will impact the clients that are available to you and how well some of those options will perform. I personally use and enjoy KMail - the KDE email client, from within Kontact. This gives me everything I used to enjoy from Thunderbird (and all of the things you list) plus a whole lot more. It is available on Windows, but I'm not sure how well it works there. If you happen to be

  • Thunderbird has no CardDav support (there's the SoGo connector, but it's ready only and buggy) and I run my own contacts off a Radicale server. Are there any good alternatives with decent CardDav and Caldav support?

    The only thing I've found that supports CardDav is Evolution. I'm not a huge fan of its interface, but it does look like the only decent Thunderbird alternative currently. I'm really interested in the answers to this question myself.

    I'm really afraid e-mail is going away though. Most people today

    • SoGo? Haven't heard of that one and can't find it in the catalog. There's Cardbook 5.2 which seems fairly complete and stable. As far as CalDAV, that's already built into Lightning.

  • Windows Live Mail (Score:3, Informative)

    by spyrochaete ( 707033 ) on Friday December 18, 2015 @02:22PM (#51144799) Homepage Journal

    Windows Live Mail is a surprisingly feature-rich and lightweight free mail client for Windows. I used it for several years before switching permanently to webmail. It's written by Microsoft and supports multiple mailboxes. It may even import your mail history depending on your export options. []

    • by caseih ( 160668 )

      The fact you are using words like "import your mail history" kind of tells me you're not at all understanding how the OP and many of us use email. What is this "mail history" of which you speak and why must it be imported? Ever since I've been using email (well after the days of pine) my email has always resided on an IMAP server. Any client I pointed at it, including multiple clients across multiple machines, all just saw the email all the way back to the beginning of my account. Your comments lead me t

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by spyrochaete ( 707033 )

        OP said s/he has "an archive of sixteen years of email". I take this to mean an offline archive, probably from POP3 servers, that are best handled as a hot backup that can be accessed and searched. You can import mail and contacts into Windows Live Mail in a variety of formats, at least one of which should be exportable by Thunderbird.

        It's not easy to find a replacement for Thunderbird that's got feature parity. Windows Live Mail has way more features than one would have expected for an Outlook Express succ

      • That's the one thing they get right - every message is it's own file.

        But if you want to attach a photo, it gets uploaded to Microsoft's cloud storage and the recipient gets a link (where I believe they have to sign up just to download). THIS is the reason to abandon Live Mail.

  • by Todd Knarr ( 15451 ) on Friday December 18, 2015 @02:25PM (#51144823) Homepage

    I don't see any lack of development in Thunderbird (38.4 came out not that long ago), and I don't see any indication of it going EOL either. There isn't a lot of core development in the email part because as an email client it's pretty much feature-complete and open-source projects rarely make changes to stuff that's working well. Much of the work's been going on in extensions, and IMO that's a good thing because it makes it easier to concentrate on one piece of functionality at a time and if there's a problem with an extension you can disable it until it's fixed without losing all of TB at the same time.

    I see no reason to stop using it right now. I'm not going to upset the client end of my email unless and until TB stops receiving security updates and bugfixes in a timely manner or someone comes up with a replacement for SMTP/IMAP that I find compelling and that TB won't be updated to support.

    • by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Friday December 18, 2015 @02:34PM (#51144917)

      open-source projects rarely make changes to stuff that's working well

      Please tell that to the Firefox development team.

    • by caseih ( 160668 )

      Indeed. And what is making Thunderbird long in the tooth? At least it's not like Firefox which is steadily shedding useful and distinguishing features and being a Chrome clone. Thunderbird is still highly useful to me, and likely will for years to come. No other email client comes close to it right now.

      But to answer the original question question, most e-mail clients are chasing Outlook, which is fine for them, but Outlook was never nor will ever be useful to me. The 3-pane full-screen interface just do

    • by mlts ( 1038732 ) on Friday December 18, 2015 @02:57PM (#51145125)

      E-mail clients really don't have much to add. If one wants a one-size-fits-all client for everything, there is always SeaMonkey, which does everything Thunderbird does, as well as brings a NNTP reader, browser, and HTML editor to the table.

      I have looked at a lot of E-mail clients: I went with Thunderbird for a number of reasons (a number of them subjective.)

      1: Multiplatform capability. When my Windows desktop died and I had to repurpose my MBP, all I had to do was copy a backup of my Thunderbird directory to the proper spot on OS X, and all my settings, mailboxes, and other stuff was in place. If I jump to Linux or back to Windows, I just copy the profile into place, and done.

      2: A standard, text file format for storing mailboxes. mbox format may be old hat, but it does work, and if it gets corrupted, isn't too tough to fix by hand. I used to use Outlook .PST mailboxes because they offered encryption, but after corruption took out a mailbox, once I restore it from a backup, I jumped clients.

      3: Webmail is OK, but it means that I have to go to each provider's site, log in, dig up the TKIP app or wait for the SMS message (I use 2FA on all accounts I can), browse the account, then log out. With a good MUA, all my E-mail from all accounts is in one place.

      4: It is easy to archive mail. I select a folder, hit "archive", and all the mail that piled up in a mailbox gets moved to my IMAP server.

      5: Searches are pretty quick. I can sit for a while waiting for another popular MUA to return results, while Thunderbird, once it builds its local caches, can get me an E-mail pretty quickly, regardless of location.

      6: There are a lot of extensions available. AdBlock, and folder copy come to mind.

      7: MUAs are not general web browsers, and they tend to be far more secure than web browsers for the task at hand.

      All and all, I don't see how one can add any major new features to Thunderbird, other than a tool that can automatically back up the Thunderbird profile to a target destination, similar to how FEBE works for Firefox. Bonus points for compression, deduplication, and encryption [1].

      [1]: The ideal with encryption would be similar to how Titanium Backup works. It generates a RSA key, stores the key pair on each backup volume, password protects (well, encrypts) the private key, and uses the public key for encrypting the backups (well, uses the public key to protect a symmetric key on each backup.) The result is that backups can be done unattended, restorations is easy with the password, and existing backups are kept secure.

      • E-mail clients really don't have much to add.

        I really would like it if a few more mail clients did what Apple Mail does. Most mail clients only show photos as inline attachments. Apple Mail will display any attachment - even a PDF file - inline.

        • And the reason I care is that my Voicemails come to a folder on my IMAP server via Asterisk. And I don't have to open the voicemail WAV file in a different program. A player is embedded at the bottom of the message.

    • by rastos1 ( 601318 )

      I don't see any lack of development in Thunderbird (38.4 came out not that long ago), and I don't see any indication of it going EOL either.

      I think that the claim about "lack of development and going EOL" is based on this []

  • I am pretty happy with Airmail [] on Mac and Gmail [] on Android. Clean UI, OS-integrated notifications, fast search, no issues with huge mailboxes.

    But if you are looking for Linux/open source, Evolution and Kmail seems to be the only serious alternative to Thunderbird. People are moving away from e-mail to other channels of communication like chat and social, and most are satisfied with webmail for remaining use. So, without commercial incentives, only major desktop environments maintain an e-mail client for com

  • FossaMail (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 18, 2015 @02:32PM (#51144903)

    FossaMail is a Thunderbird fork from the creator of the Pale Moon web browser (Though you don't have to use the one to use the other). The devs have confirmed that they are a true fork that is independently developing each release and will continue on as it has been with future security, stability, and useability improvements no matter what happens to Thunderbird.

    A Thunderbird user would likely find the interface and features very familiar, and I think there is an included migration tool to import settings and such from Thunderbird.

  • by FudRucker ( 866063 ) on Friday December 18, 2015 @02:34PM (#51144919)
    http://www.seamonkey-project.o... []
    you can look at a brine shrimp make bubbles while you browse and check email
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 18, 2015 @02:35PM (#51144921)

    Mozilla is just going to stop supporting it. From the original announcement, basically Thunderbird has its own development group that has diverged from the Firefox clan enough that it doesn't make sense for Mozilla to keep adapting to it. Thunderbird development won't stop, and works fine. No need to switch.

  • Thunderbird has so many bugs, and yet when I tried to find a replacement, there isn't anything good out there...
    - Global search never worked right. On many occasions I would search for a specific word(s), it would find nothing, and I would go scroll through emails and sure enough what I was looking for is right there. Sometimes it would find an email, I would click on it in the "found" list, and it would open an empty pane, and no way to get to the actual email;
    - It often corrupts the inbox, and sometimes o

  • Relevant to what I was just reading - [] More seriously, emacs runs on nearly every platform around, in some cases is natively installed, and has several VERY good email clients depending on your needs and workflow... mu4e as a search-based client, gnus for people who deal with lots of threaded and list-based emails, mew for the more traditional IMAP workflow... Extensible to nearly any purpose, each client is on it's own a best-in-class for a certain type of user.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    If you are just looking for a better Thunderbird, no such thing exists, so you can forget about it. There are other clients which may or may not be better than Thunderbird but change (even to something objectively better) will come with trade-offs (you'll immediately lose support for Thunderbird extensions, for example).

    That said, the most straight-forward suggestion here (and the one I suspect you will get other than jokes) is to use a web-based email system like gmail. It just works and requires 0 mainten

  • I hate to admit this, but the mobile space, iOS and Android, is really where the attention is being paid where email apps are concerned. The desktop space has become dominated by free webmail monoliths like Gmail and Yahoo. The corporate/business space is dominated by Outlook and... Gmail, yup. Thunderbird was the only strong, independent email app I ever liked since Eudora become stupid years ago. But these days that entire desktop email space has been a vast wasteland. And yet, on mobile devices there is

  • by fluffernutter ( 1411889 ) on Friday December 18, 2015 @03:12PM (#51145267)
    Why do people constantly suggest a web console as a replacement to a native application? When you use gmail, the browser gets in the way, there is lag, you have to do things in an HTMLy way.... Web services are far more clumsy, and if I'm deaiing with hundreds of emails it's really nice to not have all those obstacles. Owning your emails is nice too.... my wife lost the last emails that her father sent to her because Microsoft decided she wasn't using her account enough.
    • by jandrese ( 485 )
      The killer for me is that webmail clients have no or very hacky PGP support. I know most people don't use it, but there are a few and I don't want to say "sorry, can't send me mail because my client sucks."
  • I assume yo are on Windows since you talk of Outlook. Well, in the last 4 years, I tried and bought most of them. IMO, all the open source one developed on linux primarly look butt ugly on windows(GTK and all simply does not blend well with Windows Native UI) and are a pain to navigate. Plus, they do crash alot on that OS. I also bought and tried Mailbird Pro. For simple emails and social stuff it's good, the unified inbox work nicely but it uses alot of memory and doesn't support 10% of Thunderbird fe
  • Thunderbird shares a lot of parts with Firefox. Since Firefox is rapidly developed, the Thunderbird people spend a lot of their time trying to keep up with the changes. A lot of those things may not be needed for an email client.

    By splitting the project, Firefox can stop worrying about breaking Thunderbird and Thunderbird can focus on things they like to build.

    The split may result in a more stable Thunderbird with a longer time between releases, resulting in less breakage with the addons and also more and m

  • by DNS-and-BIND ( 461968 ) on Friday December 18, 2015 @03:47PM (#51145609) Homepage

    Man, I freaking hate these "Ask Slashdot" questions that people give wonderfully unhelpful answers like, "use webmail", "use the built-in Microsoft client", and "no development, no problem!"

    I have been trying to get rid of Thunderbird for a while now. Every time, instead of saying, "Oh, you should try this client", they come up with brilliant responses like the above. Webmail, seriously? The built-in MS client, really? Why do you need to change, really? Thunderbird is slow as a dog on Windows 8. Yeah, seeing as it's 2015, a text email client isn't an option. All of you who are still on text Linux - I salute you. Now utilize your brain the size of a planet to tell me what the graphical, performance-based, non-bloat email client of today is. Like the man asked.

  • Simple, fast, flexible

    Then if you need, do a ssh to a remove *nix machine and use mutt to quick read the email directly from the MH folders

    • by higuita ( 129722 )

      but also keep using thunderbird...

      mail clients should fix security bugs, but today they don't really change much... you don't need html5 in one email, protocols are still the same, mail storage is fine and stable

      No email client had any major development, other than trying to integrate with other "not email" protocols (like RSS, calendar, chat) and even that is more small improvements than majors features.

      just because a tool changed from monthly releases to annual releases, it doesn't mean that is broken...

  • End of life? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dcnjoe60 ( 682885 ) on Friday December 18, 2015 @04:22PM (#51145887)

    Thunderbird isn't approaching end of life. If anything, it is about to open up. The TB developers were frustrated by having to maintain compatibility with Firefox technologies that don't really apply to TB. They, the developers, were the ones who suggested Mozilla let them go to another entity. This isn't about finding a replacement for a dieing Thunderbird, but for Thunderbird being able to chart its own direction free from Firefox influence.

    This is a good thing, a very good thing!

  • by angel'o'sphere ( 80593 ) on Friday December 18, 2015 @07:05PM (#51146869) Journal

    and use

    Never had a Mail program that suited my needs more ... when I have to use Outlook I always have my pills against travel sickness at hand. I'm always close to vomit using it.

    About Thunderbird, I'm simlly sad they never figured how a Mail browser should look like.

    I liked my old Netscape (3.0?) mail client, though.

To write good code is a worthy challenge, and a source of civilized delight. -- stolen and paraphrased from William Safire