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Is Thunderbird better than Outlook? – Outlook vs. Thunderbird

Email iconsIf you’re using Outlook and becoming bored or having email issues, you may have thought of jumping ship.  What can you use? Another solid desktop software for email is Thunderbird.  Surely, you can scrap all software and just use Gmail, Yahoo, or another web-interface email.  Less is more, yah?

Is Thunderbird better than Outlook?

So, let’s investigate Thunderbird a little deeper here.  Thunderbird is an open source email client from Mozilla.  What’s that mean?  It’s free!

So, what’s the catch? 

Thunderbird certainly acts like Outlook with email, folders, its auto-complete addresses you enter, and multiple email account entries. But, and it’s a big but…Thunderbird does not have a calendar or task list. Deal breaker you say?  Yeah, the calendar one gets me too.  Well, that’s not the end of the line.  You can install extensions, such as a Lightning calendar which acts like iCal.  

One feature is has that Outlook does not is its ability to chat directly from Thunderbird with users on Facebook Chat, Google Talk, and Twitter.

Overall, Outlook is still the way to go if you need your Calendar and Task list.  Nothing replaces those.  Plus, if you have an Exchange Server for your office and require security, Outlook is more of a seamless connection.  Calendar invites work flawlessly.  On the flip side, if you’re looking to save a few bucks and an easy setup, try out the free Thunderbird.  Me? I’m sticking with Outlook.  


14 thoughts on “Is Thunderbird better than Outlook? – Outlook vs. Thunderbird”

  1. Talking about deal breakers? Even with Outlook 2016 they still didn’t make the simple custom HTML signatures to work. You have to go though 20 steps, go around options to use YOUR OWN HTML SIG. It’s stupid and that’s a deal breaker. The calendar and tasks thing has NOTHING to do with EMAIL, but this does.

    1. Hey Andrei, yes, I’m actually more of a fan of Outlook 2007. Outlook, overall, still hasn’t simplified signatures. Agreed.

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  3. As you concluded after refuting your only argument in this whole “vs.”, the only reason to choose Outlook over Thunderbird is “Microsoft Exchange”. And the Name already tells: Its a Microsoft Product. If you choose to use Exchange, you “choose” to use Outlook. Its that simple. This is not an Outlook feature. Its a requirement.

    Thunderbird is a Mail Client, not a Outlook competitor. And as a mail client, Thunderbird wins over Outlook, no doubt.

    1. Outlook stores the mails in one single file. If thats not a deal breaker, i guess you have never lost all of your mails because Outlook corrupted its own datafile. Thunderbird supports one file per mail, which also allows incremental backups.
    2. Easier to setup and administrate. Actually has helpful error messages that don’t tell you your password is wrong every time anything messes up.
    3. Powerful and trainable spam filter that actually works
    4. Its fast. And stable. I have about 50k of messages in multiple mailboxes. No lag, No freeze, No start-up delay.
    5. No Mailbox Size Limit. Outlook is limited to 50GB which is ridiculous. You can lift that by hacking around in the registry, which is even more ridiculous.
    6. Tons of plugins. Tons. Turn Thunderbird into the Mail Client you have ever dreamed of. Plugins add functionality ranging from Composing to Replying Outlook-users can only dream of (HTML Mail Editor, Intelligent contact selection, …)
    7. Its free. Outlook 2016 costs 109$ and has a score of 2.7/5 (at Microsoft’s own store). Why buy something so many people are unhappy with?

    There are plenty of problems with Outlook Microsoft never fixed and probably never will. Thunderbird has its own flaws but in years of use it never annoyed as much as Outlook managed to do in less than 30 minutes.

    No one forces you to use Thunderbird. But if you bring up a “vs”, please bring some technical arguments. In the end its not the lack of features in Thunderbird that makes you stick to Outlook. Its the force of habit. You have been using Outlook probably since forever and you are happy with it, which is fine. So be honest clearly state that its personal preference that lets you stick with Outlook and not technical reasons, which your article claims.

    1. I just wrote a long reply and it got deleted! Uggh, maybe I have a Thunderbird plugin that corrupted my response. LOL. Just kidding. I like that Thunderbird has a lot of plugins and that overall it is pretty lightweight even though it holds up to 50k of messages. Overall, with Outlook, I like having the built-in calendar. That’s a big deal for me and yes I’m used to it. I have also played with Thunderbird and it comes down to the GUI and the feel of it which goes to Outlook for me. Thanks for your time!

  4. Mmmm, I downloaded Thunderbird around 3 months ago, and it now includes, by default a calendar…. so, I guess that your deal breaker is not anymore.
    I also like other features that Thunderbird has, and the all around look and feel.

  5. You literally provide no argument … You might as well have said “I choose outlook because it starts with an O”

  6. $5 per month for an extension to send emails later in the morning when everybody checks it in outlook. Free in Thunderbird.

    And Thunderbird lacking features? when I installed it it had the same features as outlook. Outlook lacked one useful feature, ability to easily import my business email. I got frustrated and switched to Thunderbird. Having used both (outlook for work at a large oilsands company) I much prefer Thunderbird.

  7. I switched to Thunderbird because of the Oulook behavior on “cid” files….no attachments but in mail messages there is the attachments icon…try to make new profile…ooops the same issue….they broken the search because of windows indexer issue…MO2016 is good but only if you need to use exchange and to forgot about the other “improvements”

  8. I think Thunderbird is more secure than Outlook for connecting Gmail accounts. To connect to outlook, I needed to change my gmail settings to “allow for less secure apps.” Thunderbird Gmail IMAP works fine without this reduction in security.

  9. Outlook 365 and 2016 is so buggy it’s just driving me to near insanity over the last 2 to 3 months. I have 7 mailboxes, some which have 25gb and 46gb of emails. Getting these to download and sync on two of our new laptops has proven to be near impossible over the last 2 months. Its sits there in a hung send receive for hours and even when I leave it over night, but noting seems to sync. There are no option to easily export and import .ost files without all the crap to convert them to .pst and any other means to make if faster and easier other than buy some 3rd party software. I was a big user of Thunderbird for over 15 years, I only switched to Outlook about 2 years ago and all was fine until I have switched mine and my staff over to Office 365 and even Outlook 2016. The email crashing issue is another major problem with Outlook, while having spent a lot of time to compose a very detailed long email, it then hangs and crashed when I click send, and I lose most of them and have to do them all over again. Today out of frustration and desperation I reinstalled Thunderbird and within mins it was working properly to fully sync all my mail boxes!! Hallelujah!!. As much as people might think MS Outlook is No:1 is so buggy and broken is really appalling for a product you pay good money for. MS Support is absolutely useless with asking more questions, using copy past templates solution that don’t match, than actually knowing how to guide you to a workable solution. I just give up! I now see the Lightning calendared is now integrated in Thunderbirds latest version, so lest see how we go with this in the coming months.

    1. Joe Silverman

      Great argument for Thunderbird, John. We’ve seen that as soon as the .pst builds up, that size / throughput activity could cause the issues with syncing/accessing/etc. Glad to hear Thunderbird is working out for you.

  10. I’ve used both the past 15+ years and outlook continues to have problems. maybe it has too many bells and whistles. Tbird is simpler actually downloads mail faster. I go back and forth with them and this week it’s Tbird.

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