Stay Organized With Thunderbird 3

It’s only been a couple weeks since the newest version of Mozilla Thunderbird–Thunderbird 3–was officially released.

This new version of Thunderbird includes several new features.

Let’s look at 4 features in Thunderbird 3 that can help you stay more organized and work more efficiently:

  1. Sync all your email accounts
  2. Better Gmail integration
  3. Better Email Search
  4. Manage tasks, calendars, Google Wave, webmail and more within Thunderbird 3 with content tabs

1. Sync All Your Email Accounts

The ability to keep all your mail in all your accounts synced is not a new feature in Thunderbird 3. However, it is awful handy and makes keeping up on all your correspondence a breeze.

The easiest way to do this is to make sure all your email accounts use IMAP instead of POP.

Incoming email, sent emails, drafts, spam, and folders within your account all get synced (assuming your mail server supports this) when you use IMAP.

If you haven’t moved your email accounts from POP to IMAP, do yourself a favor and take a day and just do it. You’ll be glad you did.

Thunderbird 3 also has a new migration feature that will make moving your emails easier.

2. Better Gmail Integration

While you could setup your Gmail accounts in previous versions of Thunderbird, Gmail setup was more complicated than it should’ve been.

Now, Thunderbird 3 detects and sets up Gmail accounts with a super-fast wizard.

Just choose the Gmail option, enter your name, email address and password. Thunderbird 3 finds all the right settings and creates your account. The whole process took me about 15 seconds.

If you’re a Google Apps user, you’ll still need to use Google’s IMAP instructions and settings to set up your email.

3. Better Email Search

Thunderbird 3 has a new mail search which includes filtering and timeline tools. This makes it easy to search emails from all your accounts–including webmail accounts.

Search results open in a new tab so you can work back and forth between your results and regular emails.

Thunderbird 3’s search also seems to have been sped up as well–delivering results much faster than TB2.

Search also searches Gmail emails just fine.

4. Embed Webpages In Their Own Tabs Within Thunderbird

Content Tabs (or Content Browsing) is by far the simplest and yet most exciting feature in Thunderbird 3.

Content Tabs enable Thunderbird to display remote content in a tab, which users can browse in (mostly) the same way as with a browser.

Content Tabs – Mozilla Developer Center

This makes it easy to access Twitter, tasks apps, online calendars, or whatever web-based services you want right through Thunderbird.

How Do Content Tabs Work?

Using the Error Console found in the Tools menu, you can add just about any site to Thunderbird and have it in its own tab.

Want Google Wave within a tab in Thunderbird? How about Google Voice, or your favorite online calendar or tasks web app? You can add them to their own tabs in Thunderbird.

For example:

Components.classes['@mozilla.org/appshell/window-mediator;1'].getService(Components.interfaces.nsIWindowMediator).getMostRecentWindow("mail:3pane").document.getElementById("tabmail").openTab("contentTab", {contentPage: "http://www.mozillamessaging.com/en-US/thunderbird/nightly/whatsnew/"});

Pasting this line of code into the Error Console and clicking Evaluate would create a new tab in Thunderbird containing the webpage:

http://www.mozillamessaging.com/en-US/thunderbird/nightly/whatsnew/

Lifehacker has a great article showing how to add Google Wave to its own tab in Thunderbird 3.

You can also add Google Voice in its own tab like this:

Components.classes['@mozilla.org/appshell/window-mediator;1'].getService(Components.interfaces.nsIWindowMediator).getMostRecentWindow("mail:3pane").document.getElementById("tabmail").openTab("contentTab", {contentPage: "https://voice.google.com/voice/?"});

You can add any page to Thunderbird easily this way.

More Control Over Content Tabs

Some have reported that when you close Thunderbird, any content tabs that are open will close and you have to paste the code back into the Error Console.

Personally, I haven’t run into this with TB3 on Ubuntu 9.10.

But if this is an issue, you might try installing the Custom Buttons2 extension. The extension also lets you add custom buttons to Thunderbird’s toolbar that will let you open tabs for individual sites as needed.

Staying More Organized

There are several new features added to Thunderbird 3 that will speed up the way you work with your email and access information.

Look for more ‘Stay More Organized’ articles coming soon.

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