Mozilla Launches Thunderbird 3 – Firefox’s Free Email Twin

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After being in development for over two years from the last release, Mozilla has unveiled Thunderbird version 3.0.  This FREE open-source bird has grown quite a bit and is a new force to be reckoned within the email domain.  The number one thing to talk about with Thunderbird is speed! This thing is fast!  The new installation process is very streamlined and so easy that a half-Amish gypsy pig farmer could set it up (but good luck finding one of those to do it for you!)

The setup file itself is only 8.5 MB in size, which should take less than a minute to download on most current internet connection speeds!  Once installed, Thunderbird will immediately prompt you for your account information you’ll use with Thunderbird (GMAIL, etc.) Just like in , you can expect Thunderbird to auto-configure your settings to get you up and running with the email provider.  Leaving all the hard technical work completely out of the picture, I’m going to call it: “plug-n-play” email.

Interested in taking it for a test-drive as you read along?  Download the latest version of Thunderbird straight from Mozilla.

The features you’ll find in Thunderbird aren’t as extensive as , but by no means does that mean it’s a pushover.  The new version seems designed with web-based email integration in mind, specifically Gmail.

Possibly the greatest feature of Thunderbird as mentioned above is its speed (#2 being it’s price :). There is currently not another email program with the same performance time with matching features.  Here’s a brief look at just a few of the key features that I noticed with Thunderbird 3.

Overview of key features

  • Tabbed browsing allows you to read through your emails just like an internet browser.  This feature is no surprise coming from the company that brought us Firefox.

an image of tabbed browsing in thunderbird 3

  • Advanced Search and Filters let you globally search all of your messages for the terms you want.  Along with unique terms, you can also apply different filters to help narrow down the search even further.  For and users, Thunderbird can integrate directly with Windows Search so you can find and open emails from your start menu.  With the speed of Thunderbird, this method for quickly finding emails can prove much faster than logging into the Gmail web interface or waiting for Outlook.

a picture of the search box and filters in thunderbird 3

  • Just like Firefox, Mozilla has integrated the use of third-party add-ons for use with Thunderbird.  There are several new add-ons available for version 3, but some of the old add-ons persist to be the top downloaded.

a list of add-ons available in thunderbird 3

  • Activity Manager lets you track all of the histories of actions and changes made while using Thunderbird 3.

a picture of the activity manager for thunderbird 3

  • If you want one sole reason to download Thunderbird, it’s the synchronization feature combined with the exceedingly fast speed of Thunderbird.  Thunderbird 3 by default incorporates automatic synchronization of all email messages in your online account every 10 minutes.  This action makes Thunderbird a great tool for backing up your emails locally for offline use at a later time.  If you use Gmail on a laptop, this sure beats Gmail Offline.

a look at the sync and backup options for thunderbird 3

  • Read and backup all of your news feed and blog subscriptions without using a separate program.  Again one of the best features about Thunderbird – backup all of your online content for use later when you might not have Internet access.

read your rss and blog news feeds from thunderbird 3

Have you tried out Thunderbird 3?  Love it, hate it, regardless -we’d love to hear what you have to say about the application.  Please leave a comment below or head on over to the groovy community forum where active groovy contributor, goLfie has already begun a discussion on the topic.



  1. Izzmo

    I just tried it out. It's really only a slight improvement over previous versions if you ask me. I think they NEED to do better with the interface, it's so “retro” if you will. The UI needs to be a lot more friendly to .. well to say it bluntly, idiots, if they want to gain any sort of share of the e-mail software pie. They do have some good features, but nothing that Outlook doesn't already do, and do better.

    The only thing I have to say that's refreshing is the lack of RAM usage. It does use quite a bit less memory usage per account than Outlook does. But, apples to apples.. Outlook still wins because of the other features you get, such as a fully functional calendar, task list, notifications.. etc.

  2. goLfie

    I have to completely agree with you on this. Outlook would win in a fist fight with 1 hand tied behind it's back.

    Thunderbird is freaking fast tho, and light-weight. It's great for archiving emails/feeds or as a Gmail Offline alternative.

    Regardless, can't say I'll use it for any machines I have Outlook installed on, sorry Mozilla.

  3. MrGroove

    Vs. Outlook, yeah it's going to be light on features. Vs. Other free
    products however like outlook express or windows live mail, I think
    the review is valid and Thunderbird is worth a look.

    Personally, I'm still aging with the free outlook 2010 beta which is
    free for another 10 months or so. :)

    Sent from my mobile

  4. voxpop

    T-BIRD is great and OUTLOOK costs money!

    • MrGroove

      Exactly ;) That’s why I’m glad to see another great tool for email!

  5. Shirley Cornwell

    A couple of questions…I create a lot of my own e-cards with inserted background music and pictures. Haven’t been able to figure out how in Windows Live. Also like the color coded option for received e-mails to define family or special friends with that I’m used to in Outlook Express. Are these options available on the new Thunderbird offering? Thanks.

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