Now that Mozilla’s Thunderbird 2 is finally released there will probably be a lot of newcomers trying out this top-notch email client. A lot of people don’t realize that Thunderbird actually has extensions that you can install much like Firefox, and so I thought I would point out some of the best Thunderbird 2 compatible extensions that are available.
Installing extensions in Thunderbird isn’t exactly the same as installing them in Firefox since Thunderbird doesn’t have a website browser. The easiest way to install the extensions is the following:
- Download them in your Web browser by right-clicking on the download link and choosing the “Save link as“ option.
- Open Thunderbird and go to: Tools -> Add-ons -> Extensions and press the Install button.
- Now just browse for the extension that you just downloaded to your computer.
For more detailed instructions on installing extensions in Thunderbird please see the Mozilla help page. Alright, now onto the extensions! Remember, all of the extensions that I mention below are officially compatible with Thunderbird 2 so there aren’t any tricks required to get them to work with the latest release.
This is extension is something that is still in the works by the Mozilla team. They are developing it as both a standalone application (called Sunbird) as well as this extension (called Lightning). I personally like having the calendar integrated right into my email client because it is very convenient, and the 0.5 release of Lightning is due very soon which will also include Google Calendar synchronization!
This is one classic extension that I couldn’t leave off of the list of best Thunderbird extensions! The concept is so simple, yet being able to minimize Thunderbird to the System Tray is so incredibly useful. This is honestly one feature that should be built-in, but until they get around to it I’ll still be using this extension.
-Signature Switch (Homepage)-
If you’re using Thunderbird then you probably have it setup to check multiple email accounts. After all, that is one of the main purposes of having a desktop email client. If that’s true then you might like to use the Signature Switch extension which allows you to switch between multiple signatures. By default Thunderbird only allows one signature so this option is definitely a nice addition.
-Auto Zip Attachments (Homepage)-
Adding multiple attachments might be easy for you to do in Thunderbird, but what about the people who have to download it? You can keep them in mind by using the Auto Zip Attachments extension which gives you a one-click solution to zipping up all of the files that you have attached to an email. You can even add a password to the file, change the name, and choose the compression ratio used.
Most emails probably seem pretty repetitive to you, or at least have repetitive parts. Maybe you like introducing yourself in the beginning of an email, or answer the same questions over and over again? Quicktext allows you to automatically insert text in a variety of ways:
- With the toolbar
- Adding a button to the main-toolbar
- You can right-click and choose a template
- You can set up shortcuts like Alt+1 to insert a specific template and
- Or just add a keyword to a template and then write that word in the email and press TAB—the keyword is then replaced by the template.
This extension brings all of the best features from the Gmail user interface into Thunderbird. This includes the powerful search feature where you can specify search fields directly in your query (such as the one pictured to the right) or even the ease of archiving messages. For more information on how this extension works, and for all the search syntax, please visit the developer’s homepage.
With this extension you will quickly and easily be able to zoom in and out of a message for easy reading. I can’t count the number of times that I receive an email message that has some unique text formatting where I can hardly read what it says. Having the zoom in and zoom out buttons located right there in the status bar makes reading the emails a lot more comfortable!
-Quote Collapse (Homepage)-
I think almost all email services will automatically quote a message when you hit the reply button, which can definitely lead to some super long emails. Quote Collapse makes it a little easier to cut back on the length that the quotes takes up by adding a plus/minus box next to each quote. That way you can collapse those quotes that seem to take up most of the email’s body.
Not all email services, such as Hotmail and Yahoo!, offer the POP access which is necessary to download/send your emails. Believe it or not there is an extension that will help get around that problem and it is called Webmail. With this you’ll actually need to install at least two extensions, one which is the main Webmail extension and then you’ll install an extension for each of the email services you want Thunderbird to work with. For links to all of the add-on components as well as installation instructions just see this page.
-Mailbox Alert (Homepage)-
This extension is pretty cool because it will let you choose custom notification options for each folder that you have in Thunderbird. You can have a message, sound, and/or system command that is executed when specific folders receive mail. Or for the folders you care less about (such as spam) just have it ignore those.
Note: The notifier for this extension does not use the Thunderbird 2 new mail notifier, so it won’t look exactly the same as what you’re used to.
Thanks to Lars for the tip on this one!
There are all kinds of Thunderbird extensions available to choose from, and the problem is finding the ones that’ll be useful to you. Hopefully some of the ones that I mentioned above will help you out, and if you know of any other great ones make sure to leave a comment below!