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Thunderbird: Bringing all your e-mail to your desktop?


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#1 DnDer

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 01:33 PM

My teacher (not tech-inclined) would like to get all his e-mail in one place. He has yahoo accounts, at least one comcast account, and I think a single gmail account, too.

Outlook Express doesn't exist anymore, which would have been the easiest solution. But instead of dumping him with Windows 7 Live Mail (no offense to anyone, but I don't trust 7 and 7-adjacent stuff quite yet), I'm thinking about Thunderbird, but have never used it. (Or any mail program, to be honest - I've been content with just going to my online boxes.) So, if you guys can indulge my novice questions for a minute?

- Thunderbird puts all your mail in one inbox instead of making you click on each e-mail box (so say the adverts). Can you separate the e-mail so that you have a section/inbox for each mail account? He'd like all his mail in one place, but still able to differentiate accounts - prevents sending wrong people wrong e-mails by accident is what he's interested in.

- Outlook express used to be a hotbed for virii, as I remember hearing it. Just having OE pick up your mail downloaded that junk to your hard drive, and God help you if you opened it. What's thunderbird like in that department? How can I protect my teacher from having accidents (or the stupidity of others who would sit down at his computer) with attachments and untrusted e-mails?

- Syncing. He can do all this from his desktop, but if he's away from home and checks his gmail, or his comcast, how will having used thunderbird at home impact the experience/interface (like how google stores "conversations" instead of multiple separate e-mails) when he logs back into them via the web? And, like a blackberry can you set which mailbox "wins" as far as deleting one in thunderbird deletes it at yahoo, or vice versa?

- Security. This is a personal thing, and not so much for my teacher. Google, for example, records everything and manages your data... What happens when you start dumping your gmail with your hotmail? How do things get tracked and filed? It just makes me nervous having that many e-mail services looking at and sending mail, attachments to my desktop... versus the cacheing that a web browser does. Just what kind of tracking/personal information/etc is being recorded when putting all your mails together versus what's tracked and recorded when you visit each on over the web?

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#2 Broni

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 01:42 PM

- Thunderbird puts all your mail in one inbox instead of making you click on each e-mail box (so say the adverts). Can you separate the e-mail so that you have a section/inbox for each mail account? He'd like all his mail in one place, but still able to differentiate accounts - prevents sending wrong people wrong e-mails by accident is what he's interested in.

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#3 Andrew

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Posted 26 January 2010 - 02:00 PM

I use Thunderbird to access my Yahoo, Gmail, and POP3 accounts from two computers (work and home.) Thunderbird can't, by itself, access the mailboxes of most free webmail services, but there's an addon for that: Webmail Addon.

Thunderbird can be configured to dump all incoming mail into a single inbox (my preference) or each account can have its own inbox. Alternatively, you can set it up to have one inbox with subfolders and create rules that route mail to a particular subfolder based on sender, recipient, keywords, etc. Pretty standard stuff for an e-mail client. For example, I have mail from my mom directed into the "Family" subfolder, whereas mail from Ebay goes into my "Commerce" folder:
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Thunderbird is rather more secure than Outlook or it's offspring, in my opinion. Whereas Outlook uses the Internet Explorer rendering engine to display e-mails, Thunderbird uses the same rendering engine as Firefox. While Neither Firefox nor Thunderbird are bulletproof, they do have a better security record than IE.

Syncing is not something I really bother about much. Yeah, I have two computers checking the same accounts, but never at the same time. I have noticed, however, that my POP3 accounts tend to honor the "delete" command whereas Yahoo and Gmail tend not to. It's probably a setting somewhere in the options dialog, but I'm too lazy to look right now.

Tracking and the like go hand-in-hand with using free e-mail services. While I don't necessarily believe that Google et al are using my info for nefarious purposes, I am cognizant that I am using their servers for free to send my communications. Thus, I never use them for anything truly sensitive. For such communiques I will use one of my paid POP3 accounts, and encrypt the message before even setting it loose on the internet. (Thunderbird can support GPG signing and encryption through the Enigmail addon (GPG has to be installed already, though.)




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