Thunderbird is go
Finally, and with less fanfare than the release of its sibling application, Firefox 1.0, a few weeks ago, the email client called Thunderbird has reached its coming of age.
You can now download Thunderbird 1.0 from Mozilla and try it out on your Mac.
My first impressions are pretty favorable, on the whole. The look is much sleeker than I remember from previous versions, and more in tune with the outward appearance of Firefox.
I really like the three-vertical-panes view, which is a great way of reading and managing mail at the same time, but on my little iBook screen it uses up too much screen real estate (as in, all of it) to be useful.
Best news of all, is that everything works much faster now. Last time I downloaded one of the beta versions (this was several months ago), every task from launching the app to creating a new message meant an agonising wait. That's all gone now, and the interface is snappy and responsive.
There's plenty of interesting extras to keep even the most cynical of software obsessives happy for a few hours, trying things out.
I love the Message Grouping feature, which lets you cut through the clutter of a typical inbox (OK, my inbox) and drill down to stuff that matters. Customising it is easy, and presents all sorts of intriguing possibilities (using Thunderbird to manage projects and todo lists, perhaps?)
There's also a built-in RSS reader; I haven't tried this out myself and I wonder whether it's really necessary in a mail client. That said, at least one acquaintance of mine has been raving about it, pointing out how useful it is to treat RSS feed items like mail messages.
There's not much to be unhappy about with this release; some users may find the lack of import options a bit troublesome. Thunderbird can import from Eudora and Communicator without a problem, but for many users of Entourage and Mail, there's no built-in support. Mac OS X Hints has a hack for importing Mail archives into Thunderbird. Just promise me you'll back up first.
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