back to article Why you might want an email client in the era of webmail

It's beta season in Mozilla land and some cool shiny stuff is on the way. Versions 114 of both the Firefox browser and its distant cousin the Thunderbird email client are heading our way. Why you need a local email client We suspect that some people might ask be asking themselves: "who uses as a local email client in 2023. …

  1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Not bad, not bad at all.

    Mind you, on the email side, I've been using Claws ever since it was forked from sylpheed, so with a lot of stuff held on it I'm not likely to change in a hurry.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Not bad, not bad at all.

      Agreed. Not bad at all.

      I'll still be using (Al)pine into the foreseeable future, though. Works fine for my needs, and my fingers know it.

      Probably doesn't hurt that I run my own email servers, at least for important stuff ...

      1. Vometia has insomnia. Again. Silver badge

        Re: Not bad, not bad at all.

        Same. I like Pine, I've used it for around 30 years, why change now? :D I occasionally use Thunderbird if an HTML-only email is so mangled I can't figure it out but overall I prefer Pine for ease of sorting, searching and so on. Back-end consists of Cyrus and Postfix because, er... well, just because, really. Works well enough.

        1. NATTtrash

          Re: Not bad, not bad at all.

          Same as Liam wrote here for me "If you discarded Thunderbird years ago for being a bit bulky or slow or unresponsive, it isn't anymore.", which made me end up with Evolution back then.

          And from that corner of the universe, does anybody know..?

          [_] How well does (this new) TB play with EWS servers, credentials, and authentication?

          [_] Local is also good for calendar for example. Appointments/ stuff you do need to do, but you might not want stored on (company) server (Today, 8AM, prostate check up). Is sync between devices of (local) calendar OK in this TB?

          [_] What about having and syncing a local email archive? I noticed this is especially wanted by our US friends (Need to save email for proof if sued later!).

          [_] Is calendar still extension/ add on in TB or now integral part of main code? Can remember it wasn't part of TB before...

          And just as a general remark. Since we seem to have more and more applications that work on the FF base, would it not be an idea to make it a code base with extensions for e.g. Firefox, TB, Zotero..? Might save space (I do know that is an old timer remark since everybody is shouting that disc space is cheap nowadays, so why don't I shut the snap up).

          1. doublelayer Silver badge

            Re: Not bad, not bad at all.

            "And just as a general remark. Since we seem to have more and more applications that work on the FF base, would it not be an idea to make it a code base with extensions for e.g. Firefox, TB, Zotero..?"

            I don't think it's worth doing for a few reasons. It leads to a lot of clashes between the projects. For example, there are licensing problems. Zotero uses AGPL, while Firefox and Thunderbird use the MPL. If you merge them, somebody is going to have to change their mind, and they don't want to. Depending on how you merge them, you might also end up including more stuff for one program in the main codebase, and users who don't intend to run it would actually end up using more space for the combined program than they would for the subset they're using. I have Firefox and Thunderbird here, and I have Kiwix which is also based on XUL, but I don't have Zotero or, as far as I know, anything else XUL-based here.

            The closest you could get is separating out the application from the common components, including XUL and Gecko. The first application to be installed installs those common components, and any subsequent application looks for and links with them. That would work, but as with any other platform, it introduces some dependency. If someone uses the ESR version of Firefox and the non-ESR version of Thunderbird, which one picks which version of the components is going to be used? Do you trust that Mozilla has kept all versions perfectly backward compatible or that the new version probably doesn't use anything that new? The most likely outcome is what happens with Java or Python. An installed application checks for the version it wants, if it's not there, it gets installed, then nothing does a great job of removing the old versions because theoretically something else might be using it, and now you have nine JREs.

            With this set of problems, I'm afraid I do typically conclude that using a bit more disk space is the easiest way to guarantee that it all works well. In a disk-constrained environment that for some reason uses all of these applications, one could manually verify the versions that share a library and link them all to the same copy of that, but I don't know when that would be worth the effort.

            1. unimaginative

              Re: Not bad, not bad at all.

              The most likely outcome is what happens with Java or Python. An installed application checks for the version it wants, if it's not there, it gets installed, then nothing does a great job of removing the old versions because theoretically something else might be using it, and now you have nine JREs.

              Language package mangers are largely used by developers or server admins. An end user will never use them. They are constrained by the problem that in development not all dependencies will always be correctly specified - even more so with dynamic languages, or where there are tools that are used for development but not in the codebase, or for deployment but not for development.

              OS level package managers do not have this problem - you do get old stuff installed, but it does not take up much diskspace - I have never cleaned up my Manjaro Linux install and I have 1.6GB of orphan packages. Getting that number is a result of another feature of OS level package mangers - they have a database of what you deliberately installed and what was installed as a dependency, so they have tools to analyse this and let you remove what you do not want.

              If you compare the space wasted against the savings of all the shared libraries that are installed only once it is a clear win, and it saves RAM too as each shared library needs to be loaded only once.

              That said, storage and memory are cheap. The big advantage is that you are not dependent on each project updating its libraries - especially important for security updates.

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Not bad, not bad at all.

            Answered mostly on the basis of SeaMonkey although I've taken a recent look at T-bird (don't like the UI)

            1. Pass

            2. You can have multiple calendars, local and multiple servers. SM doesn't have a server to sync with, say a phone. What I so is run a NextCloud server on a Pi and both Tbird & phone sync with that.

            3. I just download all incoming mail with POP3, store locally and set to remove from server. All sent mail is also stored locally. If that's what you mean by syncing a local archive, then yes. I haven't tried imap - I suppose you can run that without local storage.

            4. Integral

        2. jake Silver badge

          Re: Not bad, not bad at all.

          I use Sendmail, mostly out of sheer inertia. Started using it before general release, evaluating it as a replacement for delivermail in the early 1980s and have been using it ever since. I fully admit that today it is way overkill for my personal needs, but I know how it works and I'm loath to throw away four decades of experience. I setup most of my clients with something that has a much smaller learning curve.

          1. Vometia has insomnia. Again. Silver badge

            Re: Not bad, not bad at all.

            Sendmail is one of those things I could never get the hang of for some reason. Some config stuff and programming I find easy, some I find harder but eventually get there through determination, and some just seems to remain completely opaque to me forever. Sendmail falls into the latter category; I was a bit frustrated when I had to concede defeat but I guess some things are just like that.

    2. Grogan Silver badge

      Re: Not bad, not bad at all.

      I use vanilla Sylpheed, I've been using it since 2001 when it was a GTK+ 1.x program. I like how it strips out garbage and presents me plain text (with a few viewing options in case links are broken or something). I also like the options, it makes it easy to filter mails based on identifying criteria for sticking in different mailbox directories etc. It's also plain text files, you can just grep through them for information even.

      I still use POP3 mail... don't like imap. I especially dislike webmail, though I do have one set up on my server in case I need to quickly check from somewhere else if I need to "verify" something etc.

    3. Beeblebrox

      "who uses as a local email client in 2023. Doesn't everybody use webmail these days?"

      Whilst I am heartily tired of all the apps nowadays that one is encouraged to use instead of a perfectly functional web page, I feel that webmail is the opposite: why use webmail instead of a proper email client which can connect to various email accounts?

      In the scenario where one has more than one email address, with multiple accounts from individual providers, I cannot see how using webmail could be anything other than a nightmare.

      1. Beeblebrox

        Re: "who uses as a local email client in 2023. Doesn't everybody use webmail these days?"

        It's even better on a mobile device: who uses webmail, there's an app for email. One app for each provider.

        Or one could just use an email app.

    4. DuncanLarge Silver badge

      Re: Not bad, not bad at all.

      I still hapilly use Mutt!

      I used to use K9 mail on the smartphone, I intend to go back to that after it's re-invention as Thunderbird for android

  2. 43300 Silver badge

    From the screenshot, it looks like it still has a single-line view for each email in the list (as opposed to the three-line view in Outlook). Might seem minor, but that's always been enough to discourage me fromm using it.

    As regards the title - you'd want an email client because every webmail interface I've ever come across is shit by comparison. And the current Microsoft iteration is one of the worst of the lot!

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      I also find most webmail interfaces to be basically usable if all you want to do is look at some messages and send one, but not so good if you want to search or process them in bulk. The other reason I use a mail client is it makes things much simpler if you have multiple email accounts, and I have quite a lot of them.

    2. unimaginative

      There are a lot of extensions so there will probably be one that does what you want. I just found one i want to try lookng at the link fir this comment.

    3. jason@thunderbird

      Hi there, this is because the author is using the legacy "table" view and not the newer "cards" view. In the latest beta there is a double-line view, and version 115 will eventually have multi-line including a message preview. Try choosing the "Vertical" layout and the "Default" or "Relaxed" density setting. It's much better than what you see in the article.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "It's much better than what you see in the article."

        No, that's the stupidest idea ever. If email topic (literally one line) is not telling what it is about, you go and kick the sender. No ifs, no buts.

        It's *not* helping at all when you waste whole screen showing "previews" of each email: BS is still BS. I can already guess it fetches *whole* email from server. Even when it's 2 megabytes, *just* to show me it's spam. Because that's how programmers think when they 'help' users. While shooting them into foot.

        Tell us that you parse URLs and fetch "preview" from said URLs too? What a nice way to introduce malware without user action ... and some people actually believe it's a *good* idea.

        1. Orv Silver badge

          I subscribe to a lot of mailing lists, some of which are aggregations of other lists, so often the entire width of the subject line is just a pile of mailing list [identifier tags].

        2. that one in the corner Silver badge

          > No, that's the stupidest idea ever.

          If just the topic line displayed is the way you like it, that is the view option you choose for yourself.

          Another person gets to choose the view *they* like to use.

          Whether you think theirs is "the stupidest idea ever" or they think "only an intolerant prat would want that" is irrelevant.

          Choice - don't you just love it?

    4. DuncanLarge Silver badge

      I cant stand the 3 line view in outlook, it doesnt give you any information beyond the first few words of each line.

  3. YetAnotherXyzzy

    And if Thunderbird rubs you the wrong way, there is Evolution. Happy user here.

    1. Ozan

      I use Evolution as well. I started using it because Work used exchange server for email. I like it. Kind of big and they really really don't want you to minimize it to system tray.

  4. Chris Gray 1


    Do any of these fancy email clients let you use $EDITOR to edit your email? (Al)pine does, and that is the main reason why I stick with it.

    1. YetAnotherXyzzy

      Re: emacsclient?

      I seem to recall that Claws does.

  5. Fred Goldstein

    Lordy Lordy save me from too many "improvements"! I have been using Thunderbird as my regular client for over a decade now and I have it well tamed. I cannot use a 3-window (Outlook-style) UI; the text is too small for me in that format. So T'bird lets me have the whole main pane for a nice single-line message list in one of my many folders, with each open message in its own window. I have a LOT of mail so single line works best. And I have a nice add-on (Expression Search) which makes the quick search more powerful and easier to use (like saying f:thereg to search the from field for the string thereg). I hope they don't break that AGAIN.

    Syncing settings might be nice but it should not be tied to IMAP. I still use POP because I want to have my own permanent copies of my mail, and not leave it on somebody else's server. IMAP is a decent protocol but T'bird like most clients confuses the protocol with the corporate-mail use case where the mail lives on the server and the client is a view-port. For important stuff, only POP is safe, and that way I can delete it from the server after 60 days or whatever, giving everything time to sync. All you folks with IMAP into GMail are just letting Google have a BIG trove of your private mail to rummage through to sell to advertisers.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      This article got me interested in looking at Thunderbird again, and your comment just made me check, and yes, TB does still support POP3/SMTP :-)

      If it didn't that would have been a deal breaker for me for the same reasons you gave.

      1. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

        [Author here]

        > TB does still support POP3/SMTP

        SMTP is still how mail is *sent* from IMAP accounts, so yes!

        I thought it was obvious and implicit that it still supported POP3, not that I use it myself. Sorry for not being clearer.

        1. PapaPepe


          May I suggest the ability to use OpenPGP merits one sentence in this article (and in any discussion of local vs. webmail use?). Unlike "encrypted mail" implementation in various web-mail services, this is just about the only secure communication method available, provided the user is capable to keep his end-point his own and secure.

  6. martinusher Silver badge

    I beg to differ

    Contrary to all the noise about how wonderful websomthingoranother actual experience may differ. I hate with a blind passion web applications because they chew up machine resource, they're never consistent and they can be really slow as well

    So I'm still using Thunderbird. This type of email has been around for 30 years, maybe more, and like its hard copy cousin, snailmail, it doesn't need to change format every five minutes . It doesn't need to be at the center of my universe, either. Its just a messaging tool. It has its faults and shortcomings but compared to webmail clients its fast, its accurate and I don't have to share my traffic or my screen real estate with some provider.

  7. Daelos

    ""who uses as a local email client in 2023. Doesn't everybody use webmail these days?"

    Well to be honest, yes, most of us do,"

    What parallel universe do you live in? I know very, very few people that use webmail as their primary access to mail. Everyone at work uses Outlook and those at home not on PCs use Mac Mail.

    I've got several email accounts and whilst I have set up Edge and Chrome profiles for each account, I still use Thunderbird for my personal email accounts and Outlook for my work ones. I even use Windows Mail for my burner email accounts.

    Gmail is okay for reading and writing the odd email but it's totally pants at mailbox management. Heck, you can't even sort by subject or sender email address and deleting multiple emails at once is immensely tedious compared to a real email application.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      In the author's defense, I do know a lot of people who do exclusively use webmail. They're not working in IT or IT-adjacent fields, and somehow they manage with it. Generally, these are the kind of people who don't understand the privacy implications of always being logged into a Google account while browsing and often don't care when I tell them about them, so it's not the only point where their priorities and mine diverge.

      That's only for their personal email, as most of them are using Outlook at work because that's what the IT guy installed. I haven't seen many Google-focused setups, but I wonder whether people who have Google instead of Microsoft managing their general applications (Docs instead of Office, whatever the videochat thing Google does now instead of Teams*, GMail instead of Office365 email) are using the webmail interface more often.

      * More companies use something other than Google or Microsoft for the video calls and chat system, but very few step outside that set for word processors, and unless it's quite a big company, the email systems are quite common.

  8. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Must you stare?

    I've seen many people standing there, staring at a screen waiting for an email attachment to load or send because it will abort if the screen turns off or reception is interrupted. I think Google has brainwashed everyone into forgetting about IMAP clients.

  9. David 132 Silver badge


    DNS-over-HTTPS “enabled by default” in FF114?

    Is that for new/clean installations, or for upgrades as well?

    I run Pi-Hole and DoH vastly irritates me. In the past I’ve installed FF on a new machine and been bombarded with adverts on webpages… and then I realize that FF has “helpfully” bypassed my Pi-Hole. Grrr.

    1. Wade Burchette

      Re: DNS-over-https

      Just change your DNS over HTTPS server to your Pi-Hole IP address and it will work just fine. Unlike Chromium browsers, Firefox allows you to enter only an IP address for your custom DoH server. Chromium browsers require some long website, such as

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: DNS-over-https

        Wait ... Chromium REQUIRES the English name and barfs on an actual Internet address?

        That is very, very b0rken behavior. What are the alphagookids thinking?

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge

          Re: DNS-over-https

          They are thinking that a cloudflare server gets to monitor (minotaur?) what you are looking at on teh intarwebs

          [I thought this was obbious?]

        2. Graham Dawson Silver badge

          Re: DNS-over-https


      2. David 132 Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: DNS-over-https


        Understood, and thanks for the tip about FQDNs not being required in FF, but that's not really the nub of my complaint. I was more grumbling that when Firefox silently enables DoH, there is a window of time when I see adverts because my Pi-Hole has been cut out of the loop and I have to figure out what's gone wrong (admittedly, I'm alert to this now and spot & remedy it pretty quickly), and that to me seems to be the opposite of the reason for running FF in the first place :)

      3. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: DNS-over-https

        So what does it use to look up the IP for the DNS server?

        1. DuncanLarge Silver badge

          Re: DNS-over-https

          Nothing, DNS is provided as an IP

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: DNS-over-https

      when you do a LOT of "local web server" stuff for development or whatever other reason, DNS over HTTPS is a SHOW STOPPER. *MUST* *TURN* *OFF* !!!

      The local DNS then gets to decide what 'http://thingy/' means. On my network it is likely to be an embedded system with a web interface that I am developing a touch screen UI for. [it is extremely difficult to troubleshoot such an interface on the touch screen itself, so I use a browser on a desktop sized to match the screen]

      You would think DEVELOPERS would HAVE A CLUE about such things. Then again, these "non-old" devs keep cramming 2D FLATTY FLATSO UIs at us, remove features that we use, etc.

      I typicallty use T-bird because of ONE specific feature: "view as plain text". HTML e-mail is *EVIL* and should be *REMOVED* from the internet.

      And "web mail" interfaces *STINK* *ON* *ICE* !!!

  10. teomor

    The email app is supposed to be a productivity tool. You can't say productivity and web based app in the same sentence. A dedicated app that can sit on the taskbar/dock that you can access with a single click or ALT-TAB to it is immensely more useful than anything running in the browser. Not to mention unread badges and notifications and everything else.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      The email app is supposed to be a productivity tool. You can't say productivity and web based app in the same sentence.

      You can, but there has to be a negation in there as well.

  11. ChoHag Silver badge

    > while most software has got vastly more bloated… Thunderbird hasn't

    So what you're saying is, it's good because developers left it alone?

    I can believe that.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      18 years of use - and it just keeps working reliably on PC after PC, updating itself occasionally. A few UI tweaks here and there, a few features that I might adopt over time... but basically it still feels much the same.

      I'd say it is just what I want from an email program.

      1. David 132 Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        I've used Thunderbird for a while on my main desktop PC, but the problem I have with it is that it is so very slow when composing a new email. As in, like typing through treacle. I've read up on the problem and tried all the suggested solutions (clear cache, disable extensions, which I don't have anyway, disable hardware acceleration etc) but it's still slow.

        I persist however, because I once was foolish enough to use the Windows email client. And a day later, large adverts started appearing in the main application window. Yeah, no, get stuffed Microsoft. Even the Gmail web interface isn't that obnoxious.

    2. martinusher Silver badge

      >it's good because developers left it alone?

      There's some saying to the effect of "idle hands make the Devil's work" and although it predates computing by centuries whoever coined it obviously had software developers in mind.

      The problem we all face is that tweaking web code and pushing it out to users doesn't incur any distribution costs to the puerp. So they just keep doing this, a bunch of enthusiasts who can't stop tweaking things, claiming they're improving them (of course) and leaving a trail of not quite working stuff in their wake. (Which they'll all blame on "you're not using the latest version of browser, system, breakfast ceral or whatever).

      Much as I hate putting fellow workers out of a job as a user I really like the idea of mass layoffs in this industry. I've worked with far too many software development teams to know that they're an astounding sump for budget and productive effort. Its not the individual's fault, its the damn culture. They just don't know when to stop, they just keep tweaking the things that are relatively easy to get at and ignore the more fundamental issues that plague their products.

      1. Alistair

        they just keep tweaking the things that are relatively easy to get at and ignore the more fundamental issues that plague their products

        This right here. Affects *all* the damn software out there. There is no will to attack issues that will take time, skill, talent, effort and money.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I hope they fixed the one glaring omission: carddav support

    It shares the lack of carddav based address book with the email client in Vivaldi (which is otherwise from an UI perspective quite OK), but at least there' are plugins for Thunderbird which makes it more business viable than Vivaldi's email client for which there is nada other than handing Vivaldi your address book, which no sane business will ever do, and not just for reasons of GDPR. IMHO that should be an integral part of the product, not a dangly afterthought gadget.

    Fix that, and I'll have another look.

    1. Mark 124

      Re: I hope they fixed the one glaring omission: carddav support

      CardDAV has been in since version 109 or something. I only just upgraded my server to something with good enough CardDAV and TB looks to have connected perfectly. (I still haven't got around to moving all my contacts in from the "Device" account on my Android phone though.)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I hope they fixed the one glaring omission: carddav support

        It literally showed up in the MacOS variant after the latest update. Talk about timing..

        That said, the CardBook extension has a number of features that the new built-in carddav support as yet doesn't have so maybe I'll wait for a bit.

        After all, it has only been a mere 12 whole years since the standard was defined..

  13. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

    revamping the user interface.

    Am I the only one who thought "oh Fuck no, what have they broken this time, and how long will it take me to redo all my configuration"?

    1. Norman Nescio Silver badge

      No, no you are not.

      As I get older, the joy challenge of learning a new interface every time there is a minor upgrade aka a 'UI refresh' to make something more 'modern/contemporary' with more whitespace and cryptic icons and gestures gets less and less appealing.

      It's not as though there is good research behind most of the changes - they are just fads.

      I can understand that presenting someone with a skeuomorphic icon of a floppy disk (for save) or a filing cabinet is not particularly helpful for people who've never had to use either of those items: but similarly, having to learn what the latest addition to the Unicode collection of emoticons means is hardly a rational replacement. On the other hand, could we come up with some standard for things - Currently, expandable menus can be signalled by three horizontal lines (the hamburger), an ellipsis, or an isosceles triangle with an apex pointing rightwards, or downwards. There are probably others, including a 'flat' design where some subtle indication like some whitespace a few pixels wider than usual indicates there might be a button to press, maybe. A standard would be nice, backed by ergonomic research,

      Change can be good. I embrace change for good well-thought out reasons. Changing a UI is like an uninvited fashionable interior designer doing a makeover of your home without taking your preferences into account. Or someone deciding to change the layout of keys on your keyboard.

      Sorry, this coffin dodger just got triggered.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Change is GOOD!

        However, change for change's sake, or to put loot in the pockets of the shareholders, with absolutely no benefit to the userbase ... and in fact, negative impact on the userbase (being larger, it has more bugs, is less secure, takes longer to patch, retraining is involved, training for newbies takes longer, etc. etc.) is BAD.

        "Sorry, this coffin dodger just got triggered."

        Don't ever be sorry just because you have lived long enough to know better! Have a beer instead. You've earned it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "Change is GOOD!""

          No. Change is *just* change and it will vary from back stabbing to manna from heaven. Usually the former because of morons and greed.

          The point is is that developers *never* understand the difference and will always consider *any change* inherently good and "better". Just because they've no clue. Dunning-Krueger at its best.

          1. bombastic bob Silver badge

            Dunning-Kruger effect

            had to look it up


            "poor performers have not yet acquired the ability to distinguish between good and bad performances."

            Sounds about right to me. Most likely cause: Too many years of "positive re-enforcement" instead of BRUTAL HONESTY.

        2. bombastic bob Silver badge

          'Coffin dodger?' First time I've seen/heard THAT one!

          (Back to dodging coffins and learnin' these young whippersnappers a thing or two)

          [you young whippersnappers wouldn't know a proper UI if it bit you on the nose. in my day we had 3D SKEUOMORPHIC interfaces where buttons look like buttons and text was READABLE! Not this 2D FLATSO FLATASS bright white and light blue unreadable crap with 90% of the screen real estate wasted and NOT EVEN SHADOWING EFFECTS so you have to search for where to click the mouse EVERY! STINKING! TIME! Why, I oughta... *grumble* *gripe* *rant*]

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        The current icons look as if they're hieroglyphs written by someone who only know cuneiform. At leas on Linux Seamonkey has the option of using the desktop theme icons. It makes a big difference; it looks as if it belongs there irrespective of what icon theme is in use. I soppose it could be worse - it could be GTK4 with a menu in the title bar.

    2. Yes Me Silver badge

      Frosty reception

      Just freeze updates and you will be happy for ever, security risks excepted.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Frosty reception

        Sadly not always. I have Firefox on my phone still at an old version because the new tab interface is so irritating. There is an increasing number of sites which just refuse to play: "please upgrade to a newer version"

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      In principle I agree with you. But they broke TB & FF a long time ago which is why I prefer Seamonkey instead although that's now got worse because the calendar isn't a separate window, it's a tab; it persists in coming up with a multiple week rather than month view and it doesn't even seem to have a setting to display the tab at launch.

      I have this forlorn hope that they'd revamp TB back to the original in which case I might use it.

  14. Zebo-the-Fat

    Never used!

    I have a webmail service that offers IMAP, so I just use a local email client (Postbox) and never, ever get to see the wonderful advertiments that are splattered across the web client... works for me!

    1. Korev Silver badge

      Re: Never used!

      I've also been using Postbox for a while am quite happy with it. Ironically, the reason I started using it was because Thunderbird kept crashing and I couldn't fix it!

    2. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: Never used!

      Don't they all?

      Even Gmail offers IMAP access!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Never used!

        "offers(*) IMAP access!"

        *) Once you've hopped around a bunch of loops at Google end. It's *not* standard IMAP access by any means, far from it. They call it 'security' and they are kind of right: It makes using anything else than a Google product very difficult and therefore is very secure to their money flow.

        Google *did* offer standard IMAP, but that changed couple years ago.

        1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

          Re: Never used!

          Whilst I use my own mail servers for most of my stuff, I have a Gmail account for dealing with a certain number of accounts.

          l use it regularly with a standard command line IMAP client. (heirloom-mailx - probably one of the least flashy IMAP clients out there) The onnly "hoop" I had to go through was tick the "enable IMAP" checkbox on the Gmail account.

          The only "weirdness" is the name of the "sent" folder, and others created on the gmail side, but that's just aesthetic, and easily aliased away.

          P.s. Not my downvote - someone else realises you're talking bollocks too!

        2. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

          Re: Never used!

          [Author here]

          > It's *not* standard IMAP access by any means, far from it. They call it 'security'

          Google apps, including the free Gmail, offer standard IMAP access. Your next line gives away your mistake: it is *authentication* that is special.

          It uses to offer vanilla password access, then it became an option you had to enable, then it became "app passwords" and now OAuth2 is the recommendation.

          However this too is an open standard:

          T'bird supports it natively.

  15. G40

    Yes, but

    Can it a) import existing content directly from Outlook and b) does it use a sane structure for storing email itself? i.e. have they stuck with the wretched implementation which plagued Tbird back in the 90s?

    1. Orv Silver badge

      Re: Yes, but

      Good question. I started shying away from Thunderbird because, once you'd accumulated a certain amount of archived data, it just ground to a halt amidst a storm of disk-thrashing.

    2. DuncanLarge Silver badge

      Re: Yes, but

      > have they stuck with the wretched implementation which plagued Tbird back in the 90s?

      It uses the mbox format

  16. MachDiamond Silver badge

    The legal aspect

    If you use Webmail and leave your read messages on the server, they are often no longer considered private and can be subpoenaed. I also find that having my mail stored locally lets me refer to it even when the internet it down or if the power is off (laptop with battery to the rescue). Since I do field service work, I often need to look up an email for an address and other information. I'm also not going to put my confidence in the host to always do the right thing or even be there one day to the next.

    At least in the US, anything found in unopened mail is not admissible in court even if it's taken when a warrant is being served. This is mostly the same with electronic communications so once I've 'opened' an email, I don't want it sitting somewhere out of my control.

    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: The legal aspect

      I run my own mail servers, with ssh and IMAP access. Best of all worlds!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The legal aspect

      " I don't want it sitting somewhere out of my control."

      If it sits in corporate (=employer) email server, corporate can destroy it any time they want. It's literally *their mail*, not yours. You can bet any condemning material vanishes faster than you can say 'cat'.

    3. Orv Silver badge

      Re: The legal aspect

      I use webmail for work because a) I need to access it from multiple computers, which necessitates the "sitting on the server" situation anyway; and b) I work for a publicly-funded university, so it's all subject by law to public record requests anyway.

      I keep my personal mail rigorously separate, of course.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: The legal aspect

        "I keep my personal mail rigorously separate, of course."

        You make a good point in how different situations can require much different solutions. Your uni mail may be subject to retention laws and they might also want it archived in case they need fodder for the bus wheels at some point.

        Any personal stuff you decide isn't needed/wanted going forward you can delete so it isn't discoverable. I'm not planning any bank heists, but I have read plenty of books where bits and pieces of innocuous things gets turned into a narrative from The Man that puts the protagonist on the run. I also just pitch loads of mail that I don't need to keep.

  17. _andrew

    About that local-storage advantage...

    One of the arguments against webmail presented here is that all of your mail stays on the server, which has various risks associated with it. That's true, but that is not unique to webmail clients:the k9mail/Thunderbird-for-Android client does that too. It's also possible to configure several other local clients to do the same thing. Is this bad? I find that there are good reasons to not keep local copies. In the case of k9 (which I use), it makes it lighter and faster: my "home" folder wouldn't fit on my phone anyway. I get around this conflict by running my own mail server, using fetchmail to sweep messages from my ISP's inbox. That's a lot more effort than most people would be prepared to go to though. I don't know of any "nicely packaged" way to achieve this setup, where I control and posess my mail archive while also allowing access from many lightweight client systems.

    I'm curious about the hate for IMAP that always comes up in these discussions. What bad experiences can have led to that? In my experience it simply works, really well, and is to my mind the obviously correct answer. (Well, if you were doing it again, perhaps some sort of REST-style thing would be set up instead, but it comes from the an earlier era, and still gets the job done.)

    1. Orv Silver badge

      Re: About that local-storage advantage...

      I haven't used IMAP in a long time, but in the past I had problems with lack of standardization between clients. Stuff like which messages were marked, which were read, which were trashed, etc. would sometimes get reset when I switched computers.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: About that local-storage advantage...

      I started off, like man, with an ISP-provided email service and went through a few ISPs due to them either disappearing or bing bought up by barrel-bottom-scrapers. Somewhere along the line I set up my own domain but even then I've changed my registrar/MSP. With IMAP I'd either have had to download everything anyway before moving or leave stuff behind. I also don't have to worry about what the MSP decides to do about maximum storage.

      TL;DR Local storage leaves you in charge.

    3. DuncanLarge Silver badge

      Re: About that local-storage advantage...

      > I'm curious about the hate for IMAP that always comes up in these discussions

      I still use it and I'm considering returning to POP3. The only reason IMAP became a thing was because PC's had small drives and ISP's had big drives back in the 90's, so you got to keep your mail on the ISP servers and when Google Mail came about they offered an insane amount of space (1GB I think), for FREE.

      IMAP also makes it easy to have multiple devices get the same emails. So I can have my phone get them when I'm not at home.

      IMAP itself isnt an issue, but leavng the email on the server is. Why?

      Well several years ago most of my email was on I used IMAP to sync between my phone and my tablet. I DID NOT USE EMAIL ON MY PC.

      I used K9 mail, and had it keep all emails on my devices. I mostly used the phone and let the tablet be a "backup copy", in case the phone broke etc.

      Unfortunatley I had a couple of issues happen. The first was K9 mail started slowing down greatly on my mobile and was beginning to not work well at all with hangs and crashes. It needed a good old re-install, then it can re-download al the messages. That was the plan. But I was trying to be clever, I thought "Why download K9 while I can just delete the local data?". Well, deleting the app cache did nothing, so I deleted the app data. I should have uninstalled and reinstalled really becase what happened was K9 mail, now lobotomised and not stable at the time, procedded to see the wiped app database as an indication that the messages had been deleted. It then SYNCED this new version of the truth when it polled the server!

      My tablet happily then wiped itself of all emails.

      IMAP was only the problem because I was keeping the emails only on the server, even when the emails were downloaded to the device, they were only a reflection of the CURRENT state of the server.

      Luckily I had thought ahead, being a software tester I wonderred what I would do if I had accidentally wiped all emails on one device, thus wiping all others. So I had just connected Thunderbird to the IMAP server and downloaded all the emails. "Ah but TB was also syncing wasnt it?" you say, well no, I had closed it. My only record of my emails was thus on my PC. They were stored in mbox format, so I copied them off somewhere else, opened Thunderbird, watched it wipe itself clean, then I IMPORTED ALL THE EMAILS BACK INTO THUNDERBIRD!! Whoo, TB now had an offline copy as a second local only account. I then recreated my mails on the IMAP server by simply dragging between accounts on TB.

      Problem sorted.

      Thus I now use TB to download every account and I include the folder structure in my home directory snapshots. The issue could happen again, but I have snapshots so can recover almost every email, maybe not the most recent.

      Then I started thinking had its day and I should move. Why? Well I feel like I'm one of the last few surviving users. The mailserver is run by a single guy who is too busy to remember to update the SSL cert when it expires... It can take weeks! Also I'm getting more annoying spam. TB to the rescue, I just created a set of offline folders and dragged everything to those, then I logged in everywhere and changed primary emails and recovery email addresses to gmail.

      But I still have this background worry that IMAP syncs back AND forth, that it can wipe me out again. Also, TB and other clients sometimes only update a folder when you open it. The Inbox is always updated but I find many simply need a nudge, I find that annoyong. POP3 wouldnt have that issue, ALL emails are downloaded and the client then sorts them. I like that better, but there wont be any syncing unless I manage deletion times. IMAP can do what POP3 does, there is no need for a client to keep messages on the server, but my other clients may not support that feature.

      I'm likely sticking with IMAP but I'm making sure I have those snapshots offline. I said I will consider POP3 but I think I will want the multi-device syning.

      1. _andrew

        Re: About that local-storage advantage...

        Exactly: IMAP enables the multi-device use-case, but in many people's mind it means "mail is on the server". That is not a problem when the server is your own. (You can also make it part of your backup schedule, then). Really not an easy problem to solve, I think, because providing a vendor-agnostic personal IMAP storage application is not really in the interests of any of the current players, who get significant lock-in stickiness by having you use theirs.

  18. Jamie Jones Silver badge


    "Why you might want an email client in the era of webmail"

    Man. Liam, I love reading your articles, and this posting is largely tongue in cheek, but this reminds me of things we heard in the past like "Why do people still use Unix now Microsoft exists", and "please UPGRADE your inferior browser to microsoft explorer to use this site" (A commerce site, demanding insultingly I downgraded my browser. I instead bought elsewhere..

    What next?

    Top Gear: Why bother with manual drive now automatic cars exist?

    The Great Bake off: "Don't bother, it's cheaper from Tescos"

    Cycling Weekly: "Is it worth bothering now that cars are so accessable?"

    1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

      Re: Noooooooooo!

      You wrote: "Top Gear: Why bother with manual drive now automatic cars exist?"

      Liam wrote: "Why you might want a manual drive in the era of automatic transmissions."

      1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

        Re: Noooooooooo!

        Ummmm. where?

      2. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

        Re: Noooooooooo!

        [Author here]

        > You wrote / Liam wrote

        *Thank* you!

  19. Martin an gof Silver badge

    So, this webmail thing

    Never been a fan of webmail and our lot are all set up with IMAP access to private servers through various devices (and k9mail on Android so I'm going to have to look very carefully at what Thunderbird are going to do with that - hadn't heard that snippet) but...

    ...there have been a very few occasions when I might have liked to have web mail access so...

    ...any recommendations for a webmail server I can set up on the Pi3 that's running my IMAP etc.? I have been recommended Squirrelmail, but it seems to be abandonware at this point.

    Oh, and a guide for something which can scrape a POP3 box and distribute it too?


    1. envida

      Re: So, this webmail thing

      If you're just looking for a webmail client that can connect to your existing IMAP servers, Snappymail is my go-to at the moment. It's simple to set up and has the basics right. I have it hosted on a different machine to my IMAP and it just connects into it.

      linky ->

      link to demo version ->

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The new user interface has been cleaned up and simplified a bit. "

    ...and you can bet every feature those old "complicated" icons were referrring, are removed and do not exist anymore. TB is "simplified" to web mail: It can receive/send (one kind of ) messages and nothing else. No user options to make it "complicated", i.e. actually useful. Stupidification just like Firefox because they can.

    Just because that's what Mozilla do: Remove all the features to make it cheaper to "maintain the code" .... as if 20-year-old features *needed* maintenance. Proper bullshit.

    " If something does go wrong, there's an encrypted back up on Mozilla's cloud servers, so you can just fetch it back again. "

    And Liam here is the moron who gives *all* of his usernames and passwords to Mozilla, in the name of 'handy'. Sorry Liam: Mozilla is basically owned by Google and *everything* you give to them, ends up into Google. With master encryption key, naturally.

    If you haven't encrypted it yourself. it's not encrypted and someone (not you) has the master key.

  21. This post has been deleted by its author

  22. 897241021271418289475167044396734464892349863592355648549963125148587659264921474689457046465304467 + Thunderbird, OneDrive and quotas

    A note about account limits when using Thunderbird with - Two weeks ago I discovered I was twice over my storage limit at (free) (quota of OneDrive is lumped into the same small storage limit now too, as of recently) because every POP message handled by Thunderbird was replicated in two separate in/sent folders, in addition to the inbox. It wasn't obvious where my quota was used by which folders (ultimately, this probably helps Macrohard sell users more space), and I was unable to send or receive until I had deleted thousands of messages in those POP folders at, and emptied the recycle bin...

    I hope MozBackup works between old and the newer version reported! And not just for Win10 and +

    Never 10!

    Tiny10 looked interesting to me, for a few seconds... until I realised it can't update automatically.

  23. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge


    Doh (see icon)

    The main reason is to be able to work offline.

    Having all my emails to hand even if I am not connected is priceless. Any searching that I do is kept private and not shared/sold to some ad slinger.

    Then relying on someone else's computer is a risk. I am in control of my backups. Have been for years. (not a great fan of clouds and all that dross)

    Oh.... I don't have to deal with that sod awful and immensely irritating 2FA just to read an email. That alone is worth it.

    Finally, I have 7 different email accounts from 4 different hosts. Thunderbird handles all of them in one place. No Webmail (AFAIK) can do that. Add in 2FA spreading like the plague and using webmail in my case is a non starter when it comes to ease of use.

  24. Alan Bourke

    Automation is a reason.

    For example if your ERP software etc can send ad hoc emails via MAPI.

  25. Proton_badger

    It's good!

    I changed back to TBird when it started supporting Google Contacts and Calendar natively, instead of through plugins that broke with every update. It has always been a bit clunky but using the beta they've polished it a lot and there is a whole lot of customizeability in the new UI.

    I know it's against Forum rules here, but I sometimes enjoy change, even though I'm approaching old age, though in this case it's mostly configurable (the TBird changes).

  26. DownUndaRob

    Does it allow commune with monks on usenet?

    Does the usenet reader allow you to perform the correct magic that allows posts to be made in a.s.r and thus permit commune with the monks?

    (if you dont understand this, then this question is not for you).

    1. Dave559 Silver badge

      Re: Does it allow commune with monks on usenet?

      I doubt that the usenet part of Thunderbird gets very much maintenance, so I expect that the answer will still be yes. [1]

      (I'm afraid I (sadly) gave up on usenet quite a long ago now, once it finally became clear that September had definitely come to an end and there were few if any new users joining, and the existing community was starting to suffer from the inevitability of non-virtual 'bit rot'. In many places, what used to be rich pastures are now blasted heaths with endless, endless, hailstones of spam hurled by the stormy winds and nary a post from a sentient or sensible human being at all… :-( )

      [1] Anyway, real monks use slrn, you heathen!

      1. coredump

        Re: Does it allow commune with monks on usenet?

        I tried slrn, it was fine. Way way back when, I also tried tin. It was fine too.

        Mostly I still use trn. Built from src myself, because it was a bit of a scavenger hunt to find it for CentOS.

        Fortunately there seems to be a Debian maintainer for a trn4 package, so that'll be worth a try after next workstation refresh.

      2. Liam Proven (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

        Re: Does it allow commune with monks on usenet?

        [Author here]

        > I doubt that the usenet part of Thunderbird gets very much maintenance

        Strongly agreed. I dearly wish it had at least some basic spam filtering, but nope.

        E.g. I'd filter out anything sent to >1 group, and I'd very much like to add some subject line keywords to block from all groups.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. jake Silver badge

          Re: Does it allow commune with monks on usenet?

          "I dearly wish it had at least some basic spam filtering, but nope."

          One word: leafnode.

          A couple more words: One setup, leafnode (along with texpire, fetchnews and applyfilter, which come in the package) will act as your own personal, private newsserver containing only the subset of groups that you wish to read. You can retrieve your collection of groups from multiple feeds, and when posting those posts only get sent to the relevant feed. It will allow you to use any news reader at any time, or indeed mix and match newsreaders if you like. The filtering, both at article retrieve, and locally after the fact, is quite powerful. Try it, you might like it.

        3. Dave559 Silver badge

          Re: Does it allow commune with monks on usenet?

          For filtering out junk on usenet, that's very much where slrn's scoring approach comes in very handy, as it's much more advanced than just a simple 'killfile'. You can increase the score of subjects, authors, etc, that are of interest, decrease the score of others (perhaps especially including anything crossposted to flamewar-inducing groups) and it makes your newsfeed so much more usable. And, as jake says, Leafnode as a local news server is very useful, too.

  27. MJI Silver badge

    Webmail can do one!!!!

    Of use very occasionally but can be a total nightmare.

    I pick up emails, runs through 8 email accounts.

    So much easier than webmail

  28. AJ MacLeod

    GUIs are overrated

    I'm in the process of migrating to a new PC at the moment and for email I have Claws mail operational like it has been for decades. What surprised me though is how much I miss mutt, which I've used for my main email account for ages (though not nearly as long as Sylpheed/Claws.)

    I have been using mutt for a few years with isync and notmuch to create an indexed local repository of my email (which is otherwise accessed via IMAP) - maybe it's just me, but I find even using a lean and decent GUI email client is far more cumbersome than using mutt. The only fly in the ointment is HTML-only emails, which while they can be handled tolerably well add a definite layer of inconvenience.

    I genuinely found it surprising just how much I missed that CLI based workflow, even though it's only temporarily...

  29. tiggity Silver badge

    TB user here

    Used it for a long time, because it has features I like.

    By default I download headers only - inspect those and then choose whether to download or delete.

    If I do download it is as text only, not HTML with all the attack vectors that supports.

    So a good way to try and avoid any "nasty" mails, but appreciate most people just don't care a

    I have not found it particularly slow, but in fairness most stuff I either delete when the email thread is "complete" or archive off elsewhere if it is of any importance and needs retention. So as I don't have Gbs of mail sitting on my local PC, then searches, sorts etc are fast enough for me.

    1. PRR Silver badge

      Re: TB user here

      > TB user here ..... I have not found it particularly slow

      It comes and goes. I recall a time around 2008 when a bunch of us were moaning. Then something in TB improved. 2 years ago it was slow for me. And then I switched from rotary rust to a SSD: bam, both slow TB and slow-start FF got speedy. Probably a confused mess of disk operations somewhere.

  30. 897241021271418289475167044396734464892349863592355648549963125148587659264921474689457046465304467

    Will there ever be an Android version of Thunderbird? I use K9 mail on my phone sometimes, which is a poor substitute... hence continued use of my ever getting older 8" Sony VAIO P, when at large.

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