Why You Might Want an Email Client in the Age of Webmail • The Register

It’s beta season in Mozilla land, and some pretty cool stuff is on the way. Versions 114 of both the Firefox browser and its distant cousin, the Thunderbird email client, are headed our way.

Because Thunderbird is usually based on the stable Firefox Extended Support Release (ESR), this implies that Firefox 114 will be the next ESR version of the browser, although Mozilla has not yet confirmed this.

Firefox 114 isn’t going to be a very exciting release, which is probably what you want from a long-term support version anyway. However, there are some welcome new features. there are, for example, new functions for searching bookmarks and browser history.

There’s also a built-in feature that tries to suppress cookie banners, those annoying messages about whether or not to accept cookies. Unlike the “I don’t care about cookies” add-on that we wrote about a few months ago, Mozilla’s version tries to always refuse cookies.

Less visible is that DNS over HTTPS is now enabled by default, and there are three levels above the default, Increased protection lets you choose your provider, and Maximum protection restricts the browser to only use DNS over HTTPS. There is also a actually fourth level. you can disable the feature.

A rather nice feature for Linux and BSD users is that you can now use the mid-click function to paste any currently selected text to create a new tab. Google Chrome has done this for years, so it’s welcome to see it in Firefox. It works for URLs and plain text. if what you paste doesn’t look like a web address, Firefox will look it up.

The new Thunderbird, and why you should care

Thunderbird 114 has also entered beta, and this version looks more interesting than the corresponding Firefox. The team is working on improving the user interface. It’s not that the program really needed it. some of us were pretty happy with the old look, but we admit we like the new look. Perhaps a little less significantly, a new icon is also coming.

The new user interface has been cleaned up and simplified a bit. There are a few more buttons on the vertical toolbar that let you switch between different Thunderbird tools: mail, address book, task list, calendar, chat and more. They appear as tabs, and if you close all but one tab, the tab bar will disappear automatically. The conversion makes clear the difference between built-in quick views (unread emails, starred emails, etc.) and more comprehensive search tools.

Screenshot of Thunderbird 11

UI … Thunderbird 114 gives the venerable email client a bit of a makeover

We tested the beta version on the latest macOS, and unfortunately that build is missing the sync feature, which announced on Twitter last year. Firefox has had a sync feature for years, and it’s pretty handy. As well as the ability to synchronize your bookmarks and saved passwords between different browser installations, for example on different computers, it also significantly reduces the risk of losing your profile. If something goes wrong, there’s an encrypted backup on Mozilla’s cloud servers, so you can just restore it. If you also use Firefox on your phone, Firefox Sync lets you grab tabs from your phone’s desktop and the opposite. In other words, it’s still useful even if you only have one main computer.

Desktop-to-mobile synchronization is also why the Thunderbird organization is working to add Mozilla’s synchronization tools to Thunderbird. Last year, the Thunderbird Foundation bought K9Mail and is turning it into Thunderbird for Android… and in time for iOS. Thunderbird Sync will be a slightly different tool than Firefox Sync. It is not designed to synchronize your email between different copies of Thunderbird. What it will sync is your settings. The theory is that most modern email servers use the IMAP protocol, where your email is stored on the server anyway. So as long as different instances of Thunderbird know how to talk to the same servers with the same credentials, they will all retrieve the same email. servers running, and all the sync tool needs to do is sync your settings (which are pretty small).

We’ve been looking forward to trying this out, so it’s a little disappointing that it doesn’t seem to be in the latest beta… But we’re hoping it’ll be back in the product release. If you want to try it out, the beta has built-in support for keeping its profile separate from the release version.

If you dismissed Thunderbird years ago because it was a little bulky or slow or unresponsive, that’s no longer the case. It’s slimmed down a bit, computers have gotten faster, and while most software has gotten a lot more bloated…Thunderbird hasn’t.

About six years ago, this vulture compared every email client offered by the Linux vendor he was working for at the time. For him, only about three or four of them were worth serious consideration in terms of offering a full range of functionality. After using Claws Mail for a while, he switched back to Thunderbird. It pretty much does everything any other email does. If you’re cursed with an email system that doesn’t support proper citations, such as Yahoo! or Outlook, Thunderbird will do this for you.

It also still supports classic USENET news, the original social network. Yes, it is is still going, there’s a new Big 8 commission, and Eternal September will bring you back to it for free. Thunderbird is also a good RSS reader, and since the latest version, it’s also the easiest-to-use Matrix chat client we’ve seen, as well.

It is worth taking a fresh look. ®

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