The latest version of the popular open-source desktop email client, Thunderbird 3, was finally released a few days ago and it sports a range of new or improved features like better search and a tabbed interface (download site: http://www.mozillamessaging.com/en-US/thunderbird). It had been in the making for about two years.

The organisation behind it is Mozilla Messaging, a subsidiary of the Mozilla Foundation that promotes the web browser Firefox. Most heavy email users might find managing the voluminous inflow and outflow of messages a daunting challenge. The latest version of Thunderbird has come up with a new search interface, which includes filtering and timeline tools that help users dig out fast the messages they were looking for.

And what if the search results timeline is displayed in a stylish bar graph?

A tabbed interface, like the one found in modern browsers, means the content of each email and folder can be viewed in individual panes, within a window.

Yet another feature that might help in better email management, particularly for checking multiple mailboxes, is ‘smart folders’. Here, different mail accounts can be combined and made accessible at one go, in one Inbox, for instance.

Multiple email ecosystems

A lot of users depend regularly on multiple email ecosystems — web-based Gmail and Yahoo mail and the programmes installed on their computers locally like Outlook and Thunderbird. It is possible to connect the two systems by configuring the settings at either end. Thunderbird makes life easier for those who find this task too complicated.

For instance, it integrates well with a Gmail account. All that it asks for is the Gmail username and password and will automatically detect and input the other settings for establishing that vital link between itself and the web-based email service.

Third party add-ons

One major attraction for users of the browser Firefox are the add-ons, smaller programmes made by others that extend the utility of the basic software package in different ways.

Thunderbird too can be made more useful in ways users choose to, by downloading and installing third-party add-ons.

However, Thunderbird versions are not available in major Indian languages. Asked about this, a Mozilla Messaging spokesperson said localisation was a volunteer-driven effort and developers from India were welcome to ‘help’ in the creation of Indian language versions of Thunderbird.