Want an alternative to Outlook Express? Try Mozilla Thunderbird.

Neil wrote an entry on Why Thunderbird is better than OE that got me thinking I should toss my own endorsement in for this fine alternative to Outlook Express.

I’ve been using Thunderbird for quite awhile now and even though it’s still technically quite a ways from it’s official version 1.0 release it’s already robust enough that I can’t imagine going back to OE. My reasons for switching were two-fold:

First, virus writers tend to exploit OE the most by having the virus access the address book in OE and use that to send itself to everyone listed therein. Thunderbird uses it’s own address book and is thus largely immune to that sort of thing. At least until it becomes more popular.

Secondly, I switched because of Thunderbird’s built-in “junk mail” filtering. This feature alone makes the switch worthwhile as it uses the Bayesian method of SPAM filtering that assigns words a probability of being part of a SPAM email. The more words with a high probability in a message, the more likely it’ll get tagged as SPAM and put into a junk folder for you to look at later or ignore as you see fit.

You spend a few days teaching this filter what you consider to be SPAM by selecting Run Junk Mail Controls on this Folder from the menu and the program will go through and “guess” what is and isn’t SPAM. You go through your messages and make corrections using the JUNK button to un-mark messages the program incorrectly guessed and to mark messages the program missed. Run the controls again and again make any corrections needed and on the third run the program will probably not change anything as it has “learned” what you consider to be SPAM at that point. After a few days of doing this you’ll find that Thunderbird gets pretty accurate pretty damn quickly and then you can turn on the option to have it move these messages to a Junk Folder at the time of download.

At this point Thunderbird is catching easily 95% of the SPAM that comes into my inbox and I haven’t had a false positive in weeks. What more could you ask for for free? The only reason I’m still using Internet Explorer over Firebird as a browser is because I haven’t find an equivalent for ieSpell for Mozilla yet.

8 thoughts on “Want an alternative to Outlook Express? Try Mozilla Thunderbird.

  1. I posted my own endorsement a few days ago, too.
    I love Thunderbird, and like you, consider it pretty damn good for “Alpha software” (isn’t that pretty much the case with the Mozilla guys’ releases)?
    I turned off SpamAssassin on my webhost and started using Thunderbird’s filter exclusively…believe it or not – well I suppose you can believe it – it is doing a HELL of a lot better job.
    I actually got somebody to make the switch from OE to Thunderbird; combined with Firebird and the MozEx extension (to make T-Bird intercept mailto: links in Firebird), it rocks.

  2. That’s interesting because I run Moz 1.5a and use it for everything except accessing mt.cgi (it doesn’t “see” the buttons for I, U and B for some reason). Now I’m assuming that Thunderbird is jusdt the mail portion of Moz extracted and compiked to run seperately, but I don’t find he junk filter working all that well for me. I use SAproxy and Moz junk filter and between them I’d say they get about 98% of SPAM but when I turn SAproxy off Moz misses quite a few. I wonder if there are some differences between Thunderbird and what comes as part of the complete Moz package?

  3. Definitely a difference between them. Thunderbird is entirely separate from the Mozilla browser/news/composer project…as is Firebird separate from Mozilla browser (Firebird has functions that Mozilla standalone does not have natively available).
    As far as mt.cgi goes it’s because the code is written IE-specific (or rather, code that mozilla and opera and Safari don’t support yet..okay okay that makes it IE only).
    The issue has come up with the mozilla team, but looks like there is no hurry to support it since it’s not standards compliant coding (it takes advantage of IE code, again).
    If six apart would just look in to it there is code that works on both moz and IE (I searched, found it, and incorporated it in to my home-grown blogging scripts…it works just like mt.cgi does under IE). I suppose a decent MT hacker (like the gals over at scriptygoddess.com) could do it.

  4. I’m trying Thunderbird.  So far I like it, but noticed one thing.  when I type an email, it seems slow.  Not sure why.  Thanks for the link.

  5. I haven’t noticed any speed issues. It seems plenty fast to me. I do have a pretty uber-gaming box though so that may be part of it.

  6. I use Mozilla for browsing but ScheduleWorld as my Outlook alternative. It interoperates with Outlook, and it comes with the server service for free.

  7. heh, i tired to d/l it but its takin 4 ever on dialup.
    *BA5T4RD takes his modem and burns it bwahahaha

    im d/l it so i can revieve ma Gmail Email’s through it, but Outlook Express Definatly sux….Microsoft im ashamed of you get ur Arse into gear and make some kewl programs 4 a change !

  8. Okay, you guys have convinced me to switch to Thunderbird.  I had tried it a year or so ago and loved it once I got use to it, but when I reformatted my computer, of course OE came back on and I just left it.  NOW I am back to being frustrated with MS and their screwing up my OE when I didn’t download the version 7 they popped-up to “encourage.”  I “Xed” out of it and now my OE doesn’t work right.  And if I remember correctly, this is EXACTLY what happened before and why I switched to Thunderbird at my eldest son’s encouragment.

    Thanks guys

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