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10 December 2008, 13:13

Email client Thunderbird 3 Beta 1 available

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Following three rounds of alpha releases, the Mozilla developers have announced the first beta release of the Thunderbird 3 email client. It is available to download from the Mozilla servers for the Windows, Mac OS X and Linux platforms.

Buttons have been introduced to make it easier to carry out standard actions such as forwarding from the message reader view, but the most noticeable new feature is the tab interface for mail. There is now a context menu that allows users to open multiple messages – for instance, from different folders or inboxes – in tabs. The message editor still retains its own window, however.

If the sender of a message is in your address book, Thunderbird now highlights the fact with a new star icon. If you click on the icon, a small dialog window appears in which you can edit that person's contact details. The Add-ons Manager has been brought into line with the Firefox version: you can now search for add-ons directly from the email program and install them immediately.

Thunderbird will now download IMAP messages in the background to allow for faster message loading. This behaviour is set to active by default, even though this goes against the basic principle of IMAP of leaving messages on the server and downloading them only when required. It can be deactivated entirely, or just for individual folders, under Account Settings | Sync & Disk Space.

Importing messages from other email programs is said to have been improved. For Windows Vista users, Thunderbird is now integrated with the Vista search engine, which will include emails and news messages in its search results. For Mac users, Thunderbird is now integrated with Mac OS X Address Book. You can find out more from the announcement page at


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