Since I’ve just bought a new PC, and I’ll have to go through the process of reinstalling my software, I thought I’d have a look at the Thunderbird email client to see if it was worth switching away from Pegasus Mail. This blog lists a few reasons why I won’t be making the switch just yet.
Why was I thinking of switching?
Pegasus feels a bit old fashioned these days. It’s fair enough, given its long heritage, but I wondered if this new tool (which people have been raving about) had more to offer.
Also, I use Demon’s Web-mail reader. It would be useful if I could get my email client to update the ‘read’ flag of new messages according to whether they have been read on the server. Demon has a home-grown facility to suppport this (basically, you have to query the server for each email and ask if it has been read). Pretty straightforward, but something I’ll have to write myself unless some kind soul has done so already. I thought that this might only be possible with an open source email client.
Things that Pegasus does and Thunderbird doesn't (yet)
- Colouring email headings according to rules. Outlook doesn't (or didn't, last time I checked) allow this either, but it's useful. You can use flags, but I prefer colours.
- Filtering messages. Pegasus can't be beaten on this: you can perform pretty much any action either when you first download email or when you close the new mail folder.
- Custom reply templates.
- The ability to look at the email headers before choosing which, if any, to download.
- I don't want auto-preview. I couldn't see a way to turn this off in Thunderbird.
Things I did like about Thunderbird
- Using coloured vertical lines to show quoted text levels. There is also an extension that allows these to be compressed as a tree.
- Built-in news reader.
- It has a Bayesian spam filter, which looks promising.
It’s also worth noting that the migration path from Pegasus to Thunderbird may not be straightforward. I think you would have to export from Pegasus to Eudora format, using a separate utility (ECONV), and then import that into Thunderbird.
I would expect Thunderbird to continue to get better, and to improve at a faster rate than Pegasus Mail. However, it has a lot of catching up to do. Whether I ever make the switch will probably be determined by the Thunderbird features available as plug-ins, rather than the core functionality — as a power user, some of the things I find very important are a bit obscure for most users.
There is a development kit available for people wanting to write Pegasus Mail plug-ins, so I’ll have to look into whether that allows me to write the ‘read’ flag toggler I want.