Migrating from Outlook, I jumped into the deep end of the pool … and jumped back out.
Update: Since this was recorded in 2006 Thunderbird has progressed significantly. I now recommend Thunderbird as a capable, full-featured, cross-platform email client, and have been using it for several years.
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Hi everyone, this is Leo Notenboom with news, commentary and answers to some
of the many questions I get at askleo.info.
In my weekly newsletter last week I announced that I was considering a
switch from Outlook to Thunderbird as my email client. I received a lot of good
feedback on that plan, and, after having lived in Outlook since before it was
Outlook, on Monday I took the plunge.
And after a couple of frustrating hours, I aborted my attempt.
But the news is most definitely not all bad, and I’m looking
forward to trying again, after one little bug is fixed. It’s a show-stopper for
me, but it might not be for you.
First let me say that almost every aspect of the migration went really,
I was able to set up a new location for Thunderbird’s profile – where all
the files and settings are stored – which is a key part of having Thunderbird
play well with my backup and multiple computer strategy. Thunderbird imported
my contacts, and my thousands of emails flawlessly. I manually recreated my
email accounts, and things were looking very, very promising. Better, in fact,
than I had anticipated.
Then I started to play with Filters.
Now, Filters, or as they called in Outlook, “Inbox Rules”, are a key
component of how I manage the large volume of email that I get every day. I
have 30 some rules that route mail to something like 30 folders, 14 of which I
consider to be a kind of prioritized “sub inbox”. I’ve actually outlined what I
do in more detail on TamingEmail.com.
There is no migration tool for transferring rules. And while the concepts
are similar, the syntax most definitely is not, so I found myself spending
perhaps an hour manually transferring and translating my Outlook Inbox Rules
into Thunderbird Email Filters. Worth it, if they work.
One type of rule that I rely on to archive mailing lists I’m on failed to
The good news is that the support forum for Thunderbird was exceptionally
helpful in diagnosing the problem. The bad news is that the conclusion was:
“yep, that looks like a bug”.
I’ve filed the bug report, but until it’s resolved, I’m blocked from
I’ll keep track of my issue, and I’ll take the plunge again, once it’s
fixed. But until then, while I still do recommend Thunderbird for casual and
personal use, it just failed the power user test for me.
I’d love to hear what you think. Visit ask leo dot info, and enter 10073 in
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