Mozilla Thunderbird Wish List...
I recently made the switch to Mozilla Thunderbird from Outlook Express. I made the switch because I need two computers to have access to my mail. Although I can do that with OE and Outlook, OE was very tempramental when I did that a few years ago with two XP users on the same machine and Outlook locks the .pst file when in use. However, in only a few days of use I already have a 16 item wish list. The list below is sorted by importance. If the top 10 could be handled I think Thunderbird would be ready for gold release, hopefully sooner than later.
[Update] A lot has changed since version 0.5 when I wrote up this list (for instance looking like a thunderbird and not a firegoose). A lot of my issues have been resolved either by Thunderbird or by extensions, but many still remain.
1. Purge Button for IMAP Mail
2. Do Not Show Message Subject in Taskbar Item for Main Window When Not Using Preview Pane
3. Plain Text / HTML Text Toggle
4. Order New Messages Properly
5. Close Message When Replying
6. View Header of Closed Message
7. More Detailed Reply Message
8. Selection Print Range
9. Display Attachment Size
10. Outbox Instead of Progress Popup
11. Block Loading of Remote Images Option for Each Account
12. Previous/Next to Cycle Through Each Message
13. Import .eml Messages
14. Specify Location of Attachments in Message Window
15. Subfolders in Address Book
16. Better Rotating Status Icon
You can mark mail as deleted, but the only way to actually delete the mail from the server is to right-click on the folder and select Compact This Folder. The use of “compact” already leaves much to be desired for (why not something more descriptive like purge or expunge?), but I can live with that. However, the lack of a purge or “compact” button on the toolbar is really annoying. I find that this is indispensable feature for IMAP mail.
Ideally you could even take it a step further and add a drop down arrow to the button (similar to the Print button). The menu would have Compact This Folder (the default behavior of the button), Compact All Folders in This Account, and Compact All Folders in All Accounts. Make this button an option if you think it will clutter the toolbar.
Sure, I could use the default behavior and have my trash go in the Trash folder and then Empty Trash, but I’ve grown accustomed to the IMAP way and use the ‘mark deleted’ behavior as a tool to sift through the day’s onslaught of mail.
[Update] A helpful reader pointed out this great extension: Purge. It works wonderfully!
Thunderbird allows messages to be viewed in a preview pane of the main window (the window that shows all the accounts, folders and messages). Unlike Outlook Express the virus risk is pretty low so this may actually be used by a lot of people, and of course it is handy to have the current message subject in the taskbar.
However, if you don’t use the preview pane and instead prefer messages to be viewed in their own windows (like me) this is really annoying because you’ll have two identical taskbar entries, one for the main window and one for the message. If you don’t use the preview pane the taskbar entry of the main window should not show the subject heading.
[Update] This has been fixed in 0.7. It now always shows [folder] for [account] - Mozilla Thunderbird.
I really miss this feature from Outlook Express. I prefer sending plain text email, but sometimes HTML mail is more appropriate. As it stands, you have to either send plain text mail or HTML mail and you cannot change the setting for the individual message. A menu option or toggle button is sorely needed.
[Update] A helpful reader pointed out that you can enable plain text mode if you hold down the Shift key when you click on Write. I didn't know that, great stuff!
If the date on an incoming message is wrong (e.g. sometime in the past), Thunderbird simply blindly inserts it halfway down my message list because it sorts by date and time. I don’t know if all other email clients and Webmail systems cheat, but none of them have this problem. Thunderbird should cheat too, or if it’s a bug have it fixed.
[Update] A helpful reader also pointed out that you can sort by the Order Received column. It'll have to do. I'd rather not have that column visible but I can shrink down to the minimum size.
Really annoying (and similar to Lotus Notes behavior), if you open a message into its own window (since I don’t like the preview pane) and hit reply the original message stays open, instead a new window opens for the reply. I like my taskbar and would prefer it to not needlessly be cluttered. And besides, leaving it open will just force me to manually close it. If this is a much loved feature, make it an option (even have it as default if you want, but let me disable it).
Similar to Outlook Express where I can right click on a closed message to view its properties and header, I would like to be able to view the header of a closed message in Thunderbird. I use this to help me determine the source of a suspected spam or virus message without opening it. Implementing 11 below might also be an acceptable workaround.
[Update] I was informed that Ctrl-U (View > Message Source) did this all along. I guess I was just too set on my right-click days of OE.
Maybe this can already be done, but so far I have only figured out how to improve the sparse “Firstname Lastname wrote:” with “Firstname Lastname wrote the following on 3/29/2004 12:17 PM:” Better still would be a message similar to Outlook Express:
-----Original Message----- From: Firstname Lastname [mailto:email@example.com] Sent: Sunday, March 28, 2004 10:34 AM To: Firstname Lastname Subject: Something
This way if the email gets forwarded back and forth, you still have some idea on who is involved and on what time frame.
The selection print range is always disabled (possibly a future feature). I miss this, now I always have to copy/paste the selection into another program.
I have it set to show me the size of the message but it would be really nice to be able to see the size of the individual attachments in the email. This could be done either like Outlook Express where the size is appended to the filename or like Lotus Notes and accessible via a pop-up, although I would much prefer the former.
I would like an option to use an outbox instead of a progress popup when sending mail. The popup is cute for small messages, but if I send a 5 MB I don’t want to watch all the time, please let me move on to other matters without cluttering my taskbar.
The user.js “hack” isn’t all that useful. All it does is not show the popup and hides the message. I still need to be able to tell that the message exists and what its progress is.
There is a great advanced option called “Block loading of remote images in mail messages.” This prevents Thunderbird from loading images in emails that are stored on external Web servers. This is a great tool to prevent images in spam from dialing home.
I have an account that collects a lot of spam so it is nice to have this feature in case I accidentally open one of the spam messages. However, I have other accounts that do not get any spam at all and it would be nice if they could load the remote images. I would like this option to be set for each individual account (as well as a global setting). Account overriding of global settings is done elsewhere in Thunderbird, so it could be done here too.
The Previous and Next buttons in a message window currently only cycle through unread mail. It would be nice if you could have it cycle through all mail instead (perhaps by adding an extra option to the user_pref("mailnews.nav_crosses_folders", x); line in user.js).
[Update] I found Buttons! that does the trick.
Importing all my mail from Outlook Express was a breeze, great stuff! However, I still need/use OE for some accounts (namely Hotmail). These collect mostly spam, but they also collect mailing lists. I would like to save those messages to .eml format (OE can do this) and import them into Thunderbird (Thunderbird cannot do this).
Another option would be to have Thunderbird display all my OE folders and messages and let me drag the ones I want into a Thunderbird folder. Even cooler would be if you could do it the other way around too so that I can copy mail from Thunderbird into OE.
Thunderbird lists all the attachments at the bottom of the message pane. When I open a message I always first look at the header to see who the recipients of the email are. I would like the attachments to be listed directly below the header, just like in Outlook Express. This would make sorting through my mail much faster as I wouldn’t constantly have to look up, look down, look up, look down...
Ideally, there should be an option to allow you to specify the location of the attachments: at the bottom, under the header, and inline. The later would be like Outlook or Lotus Notes, although the attachments would not actually have to be inline with the text but could instead be listed as 32x32 pixel icons at the end of the email. These three options would suit everyone’s needs.
You can only have top level folders in the address book. It would be nice to be able to create subfolders for better organization of your contacts.
A non-issue granted, but I really don’t care much for the sickle, or moon and wand, or whatever that rotating progress icon is. The bird in the About window or a flaming version of the blue flame icon would be more appropriate.
[Update] I upgraded from 0.5 to 0.6 and the wand thingy has been replaced with a circle of grey dots. I didn't like the wand because it didn't seem to fit the theme, but I'm not sure this is really any better.