Critical Review of Mozilla Thunderbird 0.5

Wednesday February 25th, 2004

rizzof writes: "I wanted to offer a critical in-depth review of Thunderbird for a change. This is a quite different from all the glowing reviews of last week following the release. It analyzes shortcomings of the application and user-interface gaffes that keep it from achieving its full potential."

#1 that's the least of it

by Tar

Wednesday February 25th, 2004 3:53 AM

I could rant all day on Mozilla MailNews/TB deficiencies...

bug 22112 - UI: Icons should show state of mail

bug 30057 - Use one Local Mail tree for all POP3 accounts

bug 43278 - Crossposts (same Message-ID) not marked as read in other groups

bug 125885 - "Get Msgs" button should download all mail accounts

bug 171907 - drag & drop an eml file into a mailbox folder

And some that I haven't looked up:

* Doesn't use default character set on replies

* Ability to show recipient e-mail address instead of the name

* Ability to display number of selected messages

* When saving a message to drafts folder it isn't marked as unread

* Threads can't be collapsed by default

* Marking message as unread doesn't change icon back to unread

There's still a loooong way to perfection for MN/TB :/

#3 Re: that's the least of it

by neilparks1

Wednesday February 25th, 2004 4:03 AM

My personal pet peeve with Tbird is the way it keeps asking for my password whenever it can't connect to a server.

#10 Reply

by Malc

Wednesday February 25th, 2004 11:07 AM

And then when you do supply a password you can't get it to disconnect without shutting down the app!

#6 manual filters!

by an_mo

Wednesday February 25th, 2004 5:24 AM

Ok my personal one: manual filters, bug 183929

#8 Re: that's the least of it

by benoit

Wednesday February 25th, 2004 7:48 AM

> bug 22112 - UI: Icons should show state of mail

This one is fixed in Thunderbird.

> bug 30057 - Use one Local Mail tree for all POP3 accounts

Strongly disagree.

#9 Re: that's the least of it

by Tar

Wednesday February 25th, 2004 9:46 AM

> > bug 30057 - Use one Local Mail tree for all POP3 accounts > > Strongly disagree.

You disagree that there could be a option for users that find this feature extremely useful?

I don't demand that current behaviour to be eliminated, just that hope it would be optional.

Multiple identities on the same mail account relieves this a bit but still it leaves Mozilla way too cluttered and inflexible.

#15 Re: Re: that's the least of it

by voracity

Wednesday February 25th, 2004 5:25 PM

"> bug 30057 - Use one Local Mail tree for all POP3 accounts

Strongly disagree."

Would you disagree to being able to specify multiple incoming mail accounts for the Local Mail tree? (Along with being able to create completely separate accounts like you do now?)

Don't tell me you can do this now with filters, or I'll scream.

#17 yet another single-tree fan

by leafdigital

Thursday February 26th, 2004 1:23 AM

Put me down as yet one more person who won't use Thunderbird until we can have a clean interface with ONE set of folders damnit. (Yes, I know nobody cares that I don't use Thunderbird. That's fine. I don't mind using Outlook Express, I'm a bit disappointed personally because there are a few nice features in Tbird that I'd like, so I'm hoping that this will get fixed by 1.0.)

Sure, the option to deliver to separate folder trees is probably very valuable for some people. I am not one of those people, but I understand that they exist, and therefore this should be an option.

There are 54 votes for this bug - admittedly, that only makes it the 19th most-voted-for bug in Thunderbird/mailnews, so for example it has about 1/8 the importance of the top bug, a PGP plugin facility [hrm I thought there actually *was* a PGP/GnuPG extension? Maybe I'm confused] but proportionate to other Mozilla bugs and considering there haven't been any silly campaigns for it, that still indicates a high degree of interest. Plus I frequently get emails from idiots posting unhelpful comments to the damn bug that don't add anything whatsoever... (hey maybe I was one of those idiots a long time back - I haven't checked.)

My other pet bug is bug 44863 - UI for multiple identities per account, which is #7 by vote count.


#19 Re: yet another single-tree fan

by jgraham

Thursday February 26th, 2004 10:58 AM

Just out of interest, why do all the people who favour a single mail tree have different email addresses? It seems odd to use several different addresses but have the mail client automaticaly filter all the mail into a single inbox. I guess the reason is mainly historical i.e. people have changed their primary address over time, but maybe I am wrong. I find the multiple-tree approach to be very useful since it trivially allows me to add new accounts without getting the email mixed up with my primary accounts. I also think this approach works better in the (in my experience common) situation where several people use a single profile (sure there are better ways to set this up, but they are more cumbersome, especially in the situation where one person rarely uses the computer or uses it only for email). Having a different tree for each account makes it obvious which email is intended for which erson without having to resort to advanced features like filters (which are unlikly to be used by somone haing this setup).

I'm not arguing that a single tree option shouldn't exist, I'm more interested to know why people want this setup, because I find it to be a more confusing setup.

#23 Re: Re: yet another single-tree fan

by leafdigital

Friday February 27th, 2004 12:01 AM

Well, I have two mail accounts - the one that came with my ISP, and the 'real' account with my domain. The account with my domain is a single POP3 account that receives; I actually use six or seven different addresses in that.

I don't use the ISP account for anything except the ISP's own messages, and a few mailing lists (which for a slightly confusing reason I wanted to come from a different mail server at some point). I certainly don't want a separate mail tree with umpteen associated folders cluttering my UI just for *that*. But I do need to read the account, for the ISP notices if nothing else.

The six or seven addresses I use because I give different email addresses for people to comment on different aspects of my work - for example my main piece of shareware software is called leafDrums, so I give the email address in relation to this software. In theory I might want to filter this mail to a different folder - in practice, at least for that one, I just want it in my inbox. The reason I give a different address rather than just is that it lets me figure out what people were talking about - people sometimes send emails like 'HEY UR PROGRAM SUKS DO U HAV KEYS FOR PHOTOSHOP THANX', without mentioning which program it is that sucks, and out of curiosity I'd kind of like to know; so I take a look at the email address.

My mail routing page is if you want to see how that all works. (This is my anti-spam solution... now I just need to update all the other pages to make the mailto links go to that page instead of being actual email addresses, but I'm too lazy to do it...)

So anyway - the second part of this (having umpteen addresses that all go to the same tree, and I can filter separately if I want to) is fine, that's how Tbird works anyhow because it is a single POP3 server. [Although you can probably see why I want the UI for multiple identities, the other bug I mentioned.] But I don't want two sets of folders just because I happen to get a few extra messages from my ISP's mail server. That's why I'd like to be able to set that account to just deliver to the same folder tree.

By the way, filters really shouldn't be an 'advanced' feature, certainly not filters based on destination address anyhow... at least no more advanced than setting up two mail accounts in the first place... if they *are* 'advanced' then maybe there should be a simpler UI for it, I don't actually recall how TBird's filters work off-hand.


#24 Re: Re: yet another single-tree fan

by voracity

Friday February 27th, 2004 12:01 AM

(I hope others respond to this as well.)

To be clear, I don't want a single tree; I want to be able to create multiple Local Mail stores (e.g. work, uni), and assign multiple incoming accounts to each.

The main reason is that I have multiple accounts that all actually exist for the same reason. I have 3 work accounts, 2 home accounts, and 2 uni accounts. On top of that, I have a laptop that I move between work and home, and work has no direct 'net access (all behind proxy). So the work accounts (and 1 home account) gets duplicated. I want 3 sets of folders: work, home and uni. I have instead <me goes and counts> 11. Those are all the pop3 accounts, and includes all the redirections that the accounts allow.

This is very messy for the following reasons:

- I have a HEAP of redundant folders (drafts/templates/sent/trash) that have nothing in them and never will, but I nonetheless have to scroll through them all, which can get incredibly confusing.

- Trying to work out precisely which one of my accounts got new mail is a *lot* harder than it should be.

- Junk mail controls work differently on each account.

- Filters (which are different for work/home/uni, and which I also update fairly regularly) are different on each account.

- Finding out which of my work accounts, or uni accounts, etc. a mail went to is messy.

- Figuring out which of the Sent folders my email sends have gone to is even less pleasant (admittedly, this is 'fixable' with filters).

- Navigating the accounts preferences pane (which I do far too frequently) is really, really, really . . . really, really unpleasant.

- When filtering into another account, the 'New mail notification' works badly (you have to visit the account it was received on, before the notification disappears).

I probably ought to be using another email client, but I stick with thunderbird out of ideology, and the hope that it will be fixed in future (although, I've been waiting several years).

The recent ability to have multiple identities per account is a good start (but why is the outgoing server still tied to an identity? what about laptop users?). But I want a complete split: mail stores, incoming servers, outgoing servers and identities all separate, but linkable. Of course, they should be created together by default, but I don't want to be forced to have them tied together.

Oh, and I'd like a similar ability for newsgroups, but I'm not as fussed about that one.

#25 Re: Re: yet another single-tree fan

by felixs

Friday February 27th, 2004 12:12 AM

Over the time I get more and more email adresses (work, project team, student activities) and I can't avoid getting them. Sometimes they aren't just an alias for an existing address but an imap or pop3 account. If I have multiple accounts this uses more space on the left navigation tab, there unnessary folders created (drafts, sent etc).

For some mail accounts (work/private mail) I want to get the mail delivered in different folders so a decent filter engine can do the job. Other mails should just go into the inbox. Why multiple profiles?

Another feature I'm missing is storing decrypted PGP-Messages in cleartext so I don't have to decrypt them every time (rational: my home computer is save only the internet transport is not). And I want to be able to make "send later" the default for all messages.


#27 Re: Re: yet another single-tree fan

by anand

Friday February 27th, 2004 8:28 AM

The lack of the single tree option is the primary thing keeping me away from Thunderbird right now. To answer your question, the reason I prefer the single tree option is that I have a primary email account that I send and receive mail from. I also have Yahoo and Hotmail email addresses that I downloading using Web2Pop. I use these addresses for web page registrations, etc., and I only receive mail from them, I do not send mail using those accounts. Since I don't use my Hotmail and Yahoo accounts for sending mail, having a seperate folder tree for them is overkill.

#2 forum post to discuss this article

by gregoryk

Wednesday February 25th, 2004 3:58 AM

#4 E-mail download progress

by Jeex

Wednesday February 25th, 2004 4:08 AM

Is it just me, or is there no way of telling what the status of the download of your new mail is in Thunderbird, aside from the throbber...?

#26 Talkback is back

by morg

Friday February 27th, 2004 7:01 AM

No, it's not just you.

#5 not yet ready for the power user?

by kriskelvin

Wednesday February 25th, 2004 4:18 AM

While the article focuses mainly on handling newsgroups - i some time ago decided against thunderbird now using KMail. I think i tested 0.3 and i was looking for a program to manage hundereds of mails each day.

What i disliked most was how tb organizes messages: Its account-driven way to organize mail seems logical from a programmers point of view. Yet I did not want to see any of my (numerous) mail-accounts occupying one third of the sidebar. In real life I don't sort my mail this way either. Imagine having piles of letters ordered by how they reach me rather than ordered by subject or sender.

What i propose is to seperate the technical aspect from what the user sees. My accounts, I want them to be known to tb of course, but i want them to be managed in the background. When i write a mail, i want to chose in a dropdown-field as what sender i will act. When i recieve a message, i want my filters to distribute them into my folders. The account where they reached me maybe one posibility to filter by - but please let *me* decide if it is the most important one for me.

Even happier i would feel if filters would not actually move messages but link to the original stored in my inbox, which would give me the chance of having messages in two folders at a time when its content suggests it without wasting hard-disk space.

I did not find the "local folders" to really meet my requierements in this case. I know that this might be a very personal point of view - but it lead to a decision against a program that i think deserves any kind of support. Therefore i post it here.


#11 Reply

by Malc

Wednesday February 25th, 2004 11:10 AM

I work from home. I want to keep my personal and work email clearly separate.

You're right about the local folders thing. Pointless.

#12 Re: Reply

by kriskelvin

Wednesday February 25th, 2004 11:31 AM

You can keep private and buisenes-mail separeted anyway. But this need not be done by making mail-accounts the top-level for sorting mail. This even makes it more difficult for me sometimes.

I also seperate private and work mail on the same system but i just filter them into different folders (actually i not even need a filter for that with my present mail-client because each account has a folder that applies in case no filter is set).

The folder-model seems more flexible to me, i can direct mail from different accounts that are all work-mails into the same folder for example.

And for those who are more than happy with the account-model, well this is just one special case of the folder-model and can easyly be done with folders and filters by recipient.


#7 Not A Thorough Review

by rothkj1022

Wednesday February 25th, 2004 5:45 AM

I don't have more to add, but it seems as though this article only analyzes a couple of features. I expected this article to be more in-depth.

#13 Account Manager needs work..

by alcatraz52

Wednesday February 25th, 2004 1:06 PM

I always thought the way TB handles POP & SMTP accounts is inferior to OE's. The horizontal view doesn't work as well as OE's account manager & you can't associate SMTP accounts with a POP account because it has its own detached tab.

Is there any way to filter out all mail senders except for those in your address book? ("exclusive mail" setting in Hotmail).

#16 actually....

by fishbert

Wednesday February 25th, 2004 9:07 PM

"You can't associate SMTP accounts with a POP account..." Account Settings -> Advanced

"Is there any way to filter out all mail senders except for those in your address book?" Message Filters -> New -> "Sender" -> "Isn't in my address book" -> pick which address book you mean -> "Delete the message"

#20 Re: actually....

by alcatraz52

Thursday February 26th, 2004 11:55 AM

Yeah but it isn't done as nicely as OE, SMTP settings should be right in the POP tab, it looks tacked on otherwise (which it was ;)).

Thanks for the second tip!

#14 "in-depth review"

by jensend

Wednesday February 25th, 2004 3:32 PM

This is "in-depth"? Only if you take the phrase in the Calvin and Hobbes sense ("you can tell this is an in-depth article because it has writing next to the charts").

#18 Gripefest

by Undertoad

Thursday February 26th, 2004 2:57 AM

My complaint is that there are so many different places where settings are set. Let's see, there are options, there are account properties, there are folder properties, there are junk mail options, all in different places and sometimes hidden. File->Subscribe is something else entirely.

#21 Talkback is back

by morg

Thursday February 26th, 2004 8:11 PM

Thunderbird is very, very slow on old PCs. I've never experienced a 10 minute download of 50 e-mail messages until now.

#22 Attachments

by mcdragon

Thursday February 26th, 2004 11:52 PM

Has anyone noticed that there are hardly any details about attachments like size etc.

#28 Thunderbird Junk Mail Settings Window is Too Large

by icylou

Friday February 27th, 2004 8:44 PM

I just installed Thunderbird on 2 different machines. The junk mail settings window is too large. On my newest machine with the largest monitor, it worked fine, however, on the smaller monitor, I find the OK & Cancel buttons are NOT VISIBLE, & the window can not be moved enough to see these buttons! Therefore after repeatedly setting junk settings for mail,and nothing happening, I realized that these buttons existed. If that is the case, all you have to do is hit enter after clicking on the settings you desire. Otherwise, the junk filters will not work at all. This may clear up a lot of the complaints about junk filters not working. Again, after you activate the junk mail filter, you must either click on the OK button or hit the enter key or these settings will not take effect. This may sound vague, but I spent a day pulling my hair out trying to make this work, because the OK, Cancel buttons were not VISIBLE! Keep up the good work, this program still blows outlook express away!