From KMail to Thunderbird: extra add-ons

The previous posts covered how to add the KMail functionality into Thunderbird. This post describes some other useful Thunderbird plugins, which add even more functionality. I deliberately missed some add-ons which are described everywhere as “must have” and only listed those I use myself and find valuable. Feel free to Google something like “top ten addons for thunderbird” to get the second opinion.

Folder view showing unread folders

Thunderbird supports the view which only shows the folders containing unread messages. However it doesn’t preserve the folder hierarchy in this view. The Advanced Unread Folders add-on adds an extra folder view “Unread (Hierarchy)” into the View-Folders menu. Could also be configured to always show some specific folders as well.

Coloring your folders

If you want to add colors to your folders there are two add-ons for this task. The first one is Color Folder which is useful when you want to assign different colors to different folders manually. The second one is Account Colors which allows you to specify the account color, and will automatically color all the folders for a specific account.

Outlook-like Contacts sidebar

If you miss the Outlook-like sidebar listing your contacts, there is an add-on Contacts Sidebar, which provides one. It also supports drag-n-drop when composing emails which is convenient.

Google Mail like expression search

Do you like the way you can search in GMail using phrases? You like writing complex search queries like from:bill subject:update body:new release? Then install the Expression Search add-on and you will get this functionality right in your Thunderbird!

Fixing the smiles in emails written in Outlook 

Ever received e-mail from an Outlook user with something like “I hate you J” and wondered what the J there meant? Well, the problem is that Outlook, as usual, doesn’t obey the standards and sends the smiles encoded in HTML using the Wingdings font family, even though Wingdings is not available on non-Windows platforms and even though UTF8 has a smile character as well. Obviously you cannot change Microsoft – even the U.S. government failed on that task – but at least you can work around this bug by installing the Smiley Fixer add-on which will automatically convert Outlook smiles into UTF-8 so they would be shown properly.

Fixing the winmail.dat attachments from Outlook users

Ever received e-mail from with attachments from an Outlook user which supposed to contain something useful, but all you see is a file called winmail.dat? This is because Outlook enjoys wrapping the regular text attachments into TNEF format which nobody else understands. However with the help of the LookOut add-on your Thunderbird will be able to decode those as well.

Cleaning the e-mail subject

Some e-mail clients (Outlook, for example) like to quote the subject as well. As a result, the conversation e-mail with the original subject “check this” going back and forth ends up having the subject like “Re: Re: Fwd: Re: Re: check this”. With the Clean Subject add-on it is possible to rewrite the e-mail message subject removing the extra prefixes added by those e-mail clients.

Menu icons

The Cute Menus – Crystal SVG plugin provides the set of very nice menu icons. Note that it also changes the way the user interface looks, and while some changes (like the disabled items in menus are blurred) could be switched off, some cannot. Make sure you like the way your checkboxes look now before deciding to keep this plugin.

Synchronizing your contacts with Google, Facebook, Plaxo…

If you want to synchronize your Thunderbird contacts with your Google, Facebook or Plaxo account, the gContactSync will be handy. Supports bidirectional synchronization as well. In this case you may also find the Duplicate Contact Manager handy, as it allows you to automatically remove/quarantine the duplicate contacts.

Template manager

If you like to answer using templates and have a lot of them, the QuickText add-on may be what you need. It allows you to change the message templates with a click. Essential if you use the same account both for personal and business correspondence. Another good template manager for ex-Outlook users is Stationery which allows you to use HTML templates from Outlook in Thunderbird.

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