Column: Thunderbird a Viable Alternative to Apple Mail

In times past, there were a few good e-mail programs for the Mac and most were commercial. Lately, however, despite the importance of e-mail, free e-mail programs have created tough times for that industry, according to Alexis Kayhill at Mac360. Only the best survive, and Mozillais Thunderbird is a worthy competitor to Apple Mail.

While there are lots of add-ons, utilities, and spam blockers for e-mail, the number of quality e-mail programs is dwindling and can be counted on just a few fingers. Apple Mail, Entourage, Thunderbird, MailSmith, PowerMail and even Eudora lingers on. A few other programs to be found at MacUpdate and Version Tracker havenit been updated in a long time.

So if one were to pick a free, cross-platform, secure and capable e-mail program as an alternative or supplement to Apple Mail, Thunderbird is a good candidate according to the author. "Think of T-Bird as the Firefox of free email applications. Free is the part I like best. Features is the part that gets me to use Thunderbird," Ms. Kayhill wrote.

No program is better in every aspect than another, and there are some things that Thunderbird does better than Apple Mail in the authoris view: IMAP and protection against Phishing attacks. "Security is always an issue, so Mozilla loaded up Thunderbird with more than basic email security items: digital signing, certificate support, message encryption, S/MIME, and so on," Ms. Kayhill explained. "Even attachments won?t run (Mac or Windows) unless you give the OK."

E-mail is used a lot, and Thunderbirdis features and free status make it a good companion to Firefox, the author concluded.

TMO notes that Thunderbird 3 adds Mac OS X Address Book Integration as well, a long awaited feature.