This is only a short post, but it’s something you folks might be able to offer some opinion on:

What browser do you use? And while you’re at it, what eMail client to you perfer?

Here’s the story: Way back in the days of old, my very first email client was Pegasus Mail. For a few years I was quite happy with it until one day when I was introduced to Eudora. I think the museum were using it way back then, long before I joined them. Mind you, I think most folks were STILL using it when I climbed aboard in 2000. I’d moved on by then, and had grown rather fond of Microsoft Outlook. I hated Outlook Express … it had to be the full version of Outlook or nothing. Since then I’ve never questioned it, never looked back…

Until now.

I started asking questions like “Why is it so much easier accessing and managing my emails on my iPhone?” – the answer was simple. Pretty much every time I sit down at my PC, I open the email client. No matter what I’m doing, I like to have that thing running away in the background. Despite my background as a developer, I’ve never questioned why such a simple task should requrie such a massive, bloated application to be running. I got exploring, and rediscovered Thunderbird (which I remember playing with when it was first released). My initial reaction was “ughh” … it didn’t look as pretty as Outlook. But very, very quickly I realised how stupid I’ve been all these years. The simplicity of the software (which reminds me of Apple’s Mail) makes everything so easy, and what’s more it doesn’t take 30 seconds to open and show me new mail! Thunderbird (particularly Beta 3) also offers me a load of IMAP features that Outlook simply didn’t, such as setting default IMAP folders for the client to use for Trash, Draft and so on. I was so happy, within a few clicks my mailbox folders were unified on my PC and iPhone. No more duplicate “Trash”, “Deleted” and “Deleted Items” folders.

A realisation that made me laugh is that even though Beta 3 (the version I’m using) is still buggy, it so much more reliable and stable than Outlook ;o)

With my mail now well and truly sorted, I felt I was on a roll and thought, “What the hell, lets look at some alternative browsers while we’re at it…”. Again, despite numerous outings to try and use Firefox as my main browser, I always found myself returning to Internet Explorer. In most cases it was because some website I was trying to use needed VBScript or ActiveX to function. I was a big VBScript fan several years ago when I was creating ASP websites. Despite all that, I hate Internet Explorer. It’s slow, it hangs and I hate the way it keeps trying to “protect” me from downloading files! Nghh!

With my recent move to a WordPress-based website I was surprised by how much faster the Admin interface runs under Firefox than IE, and it got me thinking about switching again. At that time the choice was simple … switch to Firefox. The only other contenders were Google’s Chrome (which I dont like), or Apple’s Safari 3 (which is awful on the PC). Firefox it is then …

… “oh wait, Apple’s just released Safari 4. According to Twitter Phil has just downloaded it … I’d best slate him for it”, so I duly did.

The problem is, with it being something new made by Apple I found I couldn’t help myself. I had to download it and try it out. So I did. Good isn’t it? ;o) …  the Top Sites view is the icing on the cake, but Apple has also made some major improvements to the PC version of the browser. It’s loads in a flash, and renders pages as fast (if not faster) than Firefox, and also has that pleasing, minimalist Apple interface design.

Oh wait … Microsoft have just released Internet Explorer 8 RC1. That looks good too…

Ah heck. I give up. I’ve no idea. This article was written in Firefox, but I used Safari to lookup the links and IE  (by accident) to check a previous article and update with Twitter feed. I feel a mess. I’m all over the place here with no sense of direction or focus.

Help me Internet before it’s too late, and I end it all and go back to Telnet. :o)


Phil · 3 March 2009 at 9:33 am

Now then… I agree about Thunderbird. An excellent piece of software. I do have a bit of an issue with it though, and one which you’ve touched on in your post.

I’ve been using it as an IMAP client with gMail. This seems to work well between my mobile phone, ipod touch, browser and t’bird. The only problem I have is with deleting stuff. If i get rid of the message in t’bird, it still keeps a copy in the “all mail” folder. It also creates a new label in gMail called IMAP/trash where it puts all the deleted messages instead of actually binning them.

How have you configured your folders? Where am I going wrong?

Oli · 3 March 2009 at 10:03 am

By default Thunderbird will simply mark the email for deletion. It’s the one “feature” of IMAP that’s driven me away from Outlook, but luckily T’Bird will allow you to change this behavior:

Open your Account Settings within T’Bird, go to the Server Settings page and look for the settings relating to deleting emails. There’s an option to move the email when you delete it, rather than just marking it. If you download T’Bird 3 (Beta) you also get to choose *which* folder is used for deleted mail.

You’ll also find you can select the default folders for draft emails.

Also, if you’ve not already found them, you can set the default folders on your iPhone (under the Advanced settings for your mailbox).

Within a few minutes you’ll be as unified as I ;o)

Rich B · 4 March 2009 at 1:48 am

Oddly enough I tried Thunderbird last week as I was having issues with my “To Do” iCal (there’s a nice OSX Mail style skin for T-Bird btw if you don’t like the standard Mozilla-esque look). I was contemplating using the Sunbird calendar plugin and went round and round (as you do ) even trying Entourage again (then felt unclean and de-installed it at once). When I found myself trying to configure the Linux based Evolution suite I had a reality check and went back standard Mac mail, at the same time re-discovering it was a doddle to manage my To Do’s from inside mail than via iCal (as I had been doing – huh?) which was all I’d been wanting anyway.

As for Browsers, I’m a Firefox man, swish as Safari 4 is I feel like Tom Cruise in ‘Minority Report’ when I try to use it, I’m sure I’ll gel with it eventually of course and needless to say the cover flow history flicker is super useful for those blog tip trackbacks when you can’t remember the URL, only what the site looked like…!

Not sure about default folders in mail, haven’t really given them much thought (maybe I don’t get enough mail anymore to necessitate major admin?)

What about SeaMonkey? (*JOKE*)

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