Mozilla’s Thunderbird allows independent developers to add functionality to this very popular e-mail client through extensions called add-ons. Some users never use add-ons, while others use dozens of them. I prefer to only install an add-on when it adds a particular feature that is really useful. There are hundreds of add-ons available that can be very useful enhancements.
The official library of Thunderbird extensions can be found at Thunderbird Add-ons. There are hundreds of very useful tools to be found here that can enhance and personalize your Thunderbird experience. Let’s build a list of the best Thunderbird Add-ons to help narrow down the choices for people that have not yet discovered what add-ons can do.
Our advice is to be very careful about where you find an add-on to install. We only consider add-ons that are found in the officail Thunderbird library. It is very easy for a malicious developer to insert spyware or malware in a add-on. We have never heard of a spyware problem with any of the add-ons in the Mozilla library.
How to Install a Thunderbird Add-on
Installation is very simple. The official library pages include installation instructions. The instructions typically follow these rules:
- Click the Download button and save the add-on file to a location on your PC.
- In Thunderbird, select Add-ons from the Tools menu.
- Click the Install button and select the add-on file from wherever you saved it on your PC. Click OK.
- The add-on will be installed. Close Thunderbird and open it again to activate the add-on.
Here is a starter list of our favorite add-ons:
If you are like me and have a lot of e-mail accounts set up, you may find it frustrating that Thunderbird does not allow you to sort or re-arrange the Folders window. I was constantly scanning a long list of e-mail account until I found Folderpane Tools. Folderpane Tools allows you to reorganize the All Folders window. It also allows you to chose a different startup e-mail account.
To configure Folderpane Tools, select it from the Tools, Add-ons menu and click on the Options button. A new dialog box will open. This one is simple to use and is a brilliant design. You can select any of your e-mail accounts from a list and simply click the Move Up or Move Down Buttons to reposition e-mail accounts in the All Folders window. Like Albert Einstein said, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
We run several small businesses and communications is important. Quicktext allows you to set up canned message templates that you can select from a list on the bar just above the message window when you compose a message. Message templates can be sorted into different groups to make the selection very easy.
There are several variables that can be plugged in that fill in a user’s first or last name, subject line and other information that you have in an Address Book. You can also set it up to include attachments. This is best thing since sliced bread when you frequently respond to the same types of questions or you need to provide supporting literature in the form or PDF documents and things like that. I use it for my month client invoicing and when I need to provide a description of a particular technical service offering.
The Thunderbird Add-ons page provides some basic instructions. Make sure that you select your e-mail recipients before you select the template you wish to use. Folderpane tools will then fill in any variables that you have inserted in your message templates. Also, if you want to use first or last names, they must exist in the separate fields in the Address Book.