the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

Trouble with Thunderbird

Posted by Jeff Id on April 1, 2011

I never thought to ask here but there are a ton of computer experts around tAV.   I have been using Thunderbird as an email client for my work emials.  The problem is that the search function doesn’t work properly and I have literally tens of thousands of emails and can’t do proper searches for keywords.   I use gmail for tAV and it works fine – don’t like the interface much – but every comment goes there as do all blog emails.   My gmail account has close to thirty thousand emails also right now.

What I want is a good search for Thunderbird (tried Eudora) or a recommendation for a better email client that has a simple interface and can import the TB/Eudora database.

Does anyone have any suggestions for which is the best client and how to switch from Thunderbird (or perhaps a search program upgrade for TB)?

33 Responses to “Trouble with Thunderbird”

  1. Black Sabbath said

    Call me paranoid but I would never announce that I had 30K emails on GMail. Not for a hornet’s nest-poking site like this one. Someone is going to get a phone call and you’re going to wake up one day and find you have NO emails on GMail. Ooops! Deleted by accident. No backup available! Sorry!
    If nothing else, back everything up to some remote drive.

  2. RK said

    Outlook on Windows is pretty reliable. I know people with more email than you who use Outlook religiously. On the Mac, I use spotlight and the default mail.app. I purge my email religiously. But I do have about 10,000 messages and mail.app searches fine.

  3. Terry said

    I still use Pegasus mail at work, it is free and has a pretty good search function that allows different options for searching, eg header, body text, etc. It may become unsupported in the future but it is very robust and never requires upgrades patches etc. It is also very secure as the mails and address books are all encrypted in the mail store. Just make sure that when you POP the server that you untick the option to delete from the server after D/L as I cant remember what the install default is. Cheers

  4. kim said

    What’s the price?
    Thirty thrice!
    =======

  5. Jeroen B. said

    Good email software is becoming a rarity.

    These articles may be of help to you:

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/03/08/the_great_email_client_mystery/

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/08/08/thunderbird_3_no/

    Good luck.
    FWIW, I tend to archive email into separate folders by date received to keep the size of the archives under control and to not let my mailstore bloat beyond recognition.

  6. josh said

    I stopped using Thunderbird mostly for this reason. I mean hell, as long as the interface isn’t execrable, I can put up with just about any email client, but it must have a good search feature.

  7. Rarm said

    Follow-up on Black Sabbath’s comment (1):
    Three facts:
    1. gamil is a Google product.
    2. Google is a information company. They do not deny (or deny unconvincingly) using information contained in gmails.
    3. They’ve recently ‘come out’ as strongly warmist (21 Google Scholars &c.)
    Using Google gmail for (emails connected to) a site such as this is stooopid!

    It’s not paranoia if they are out to get you.

  8. Rarm said

    Follow-up on Black Sabbath’s comment (1):
    Three facts:
    1. gmail is a Google product.
    2. Google is a information company. They do not deny (or deny unconvincingly) using information contained in gmails.
    3. They’ve recently ‘come out’ as strongly warmist (21 Google Scholars &c.)
    Using Google gmail for (emails connected to) a site such as this is stooopid!

    It’s not paranoia if they are out to get you.

  9. Robert E. Phelan said

    I use Outlook. If you’re using a windows operating system outlook works seamlessly with the desktop search feature. If you share Rarm’s paranoia about gmail, you could always buy a new domain name, get a cheap box, install microsoft server on it and set up your own exchange server… just be sure you have the security locked down…. the week I installed an exchange server on one of my boxes to see how it worked some !@@#$@$!^! broke in and managed to send some 30,000 spam messages from my system before I wised up.

  10. Les Johnson said

    I like Eudora as a mail system, but Outlook is a better all round system. The mail is not as good as Eudora (IMHO), but Outlook has better search and storage. Its also a waaayyyy better contact list organizer, which is why I switched.

  11. I switched from Thunderbird to MicroSoft Windows Live Mail 2011, part of the Microsoft Windows Essentials package (free for Vista/Windows 7 users). Importing all my email looked to be tricky until I found that About.com had a great tutorial on it. It integrates email into the Windows desktop search function, and has its own internal search that works well.

    If I’m not mistaken, Outlook has a limit on the size of the email storage; something like 2GB. Live Mail has eliminated that limitation (not sure if there’s another limit somewhere I haven’t run across.)

  12. Oxbridge Prat said

    Frank, older versions of Outlook do indeed have a limit around 2GB, but this is not true of later versions. I use Outlook to handle about 4.5GB of mail (about 50,000 messages, many with attachments) without any trouble. I was initially very reluctant to switch to it, but having done so I wouldn’t switch back.

  13. AugustFalcon said

    You might also want to look at Claws Mail. It will import mbox files which is what Thunderbird uses to store email. It has great search and filter functions – probably the best around IMHO. Seriously cross platform, too.

  14. Probably going to get banned for addressing the topic….

    TB 3 apparently had as a major project goal the dist ruction of every thing useful in what5 had beern an outstanding product.

    It seems like I’ve found a way to do useful searches, but I can’t think of how I did it. I’ll see if I can do it again and report back.

  15. Mark F said

    I dont’ use TB, but love Seamonkey, which is essentially mail and browser from the same place as TB. What am I missing; search seems just fine to me /mark

  16. Oh, yeah. Intuitive. Edit -> find -> fill out the form.

  17. AMac said

    For Windows, Outlook with Google Desktop provides excellent email searching. There’s also an add-on for Outlook called Xobni, which also has good search features.

  18. Graham Dunton said

    Hi Jeff,
    I am certainly no computer expert; by I have installed “Thunderbird” on several oldies computers, because of the uncluttered simple application.
    I do have friends who are involved in IT; they have installed “Thunderbird” on client’s computers with the IMAP setting. This is server based, and you draw from the server.
    It allows multiple organizational computers to utilize that resource.
    I would personally contact Mozilla; they can only improve applications when presented with specific problems.
    There may be some good links here.

    http://www.mozilla.org/projects/thunderbird/

    Regards,
    Graham.

  19. ColinD said

    Out of left field a bit. I use Outlook and because of the limits to the pst file size I periodically clean up by dragging emails into folders in a dedicated parent folder. Then I can search for anything using Copernic.

  20. I don’t share the paranoia about Google. Gmail is a very good offering and of course has outstanding search. You can use Tbird as a front end for it if you like – and by doing so in Tbird 3 by default it will also download all the mails (‘offline’ mode) to your computer as a backup and also for peace of mind if you’re prone to paranoia. Importing everything then letting it all flow back will take time but might be the solution you want: Tbird as front end, Google search behind the scenes.

  21. MartinGAtkins said

    Using Linux T/Bird

    Presumably your holding the downloaded email in a folder.

    Highlight (Click) the folder.

    Select -> Edit -> Find -> Search Messages.

    The top box has default “Subject” “Contains”

    Click on “Subject” for pull down menu. If you are searching for text in the mails choose “Body” or whatever.

    Leave “Contains” as is or do the select from the pull down menu. Enter the text your looking for.

    Top right hand corner of box select search.

    Read the options of this “Edit-> Find -> Search Messages” box for added thump.

  22. Jeff Id said

    Martin and others,

    The problem is that when I search for a word or phrase, emails are returned which don’t contain the wording. I don’t know what causes this, but it makes the search feature unusable when you have large numbers of emails.

  23. Jeff Id said

    I’ve been looking into some of the ideas above. I haven’t tried claws yet but that may be next.

  24. MartinGAtkins said

    I use gmail for tAV and it works fine – don’t like the interface much – but every comment goes there as do all blog emails. My gmail account has close to thirty thousand emails also right now.

    If you have set up the client properly you can use T/Birds filter to separate the incoming emails into folders that are relevant to the subject.

    You can even filter spam on the client and leave it on the mail server. Your just not trying.;-)

  25. MartinGAtkins said

    The problem is that the search function doesn’t work properly and I have literally tens of thousands of emails and can’t do proper searches for keywords.

    The problem is that when I search for a word or phrase, emails are returned which don’t contain the wording.

    Perhaps the words “tens of thousands” hold the answer.

    I have no idea of your folder setup on T/Bird.

    You can filter on hindsight. You need to split the mail up into folders that have a key words in the “To” or “Subject” fields.

    Highlight the Inbox, right click the mouse. Select “New Folder” name the new folder.

    Next go to the Inbox Edit-> Select -> All

    Then “Tools” -> Message Select Filters -> New.

    Now you get a context box “Subject” “Contains”. In this use the pull down menus to filter on the “Subject” tab and select the field you wish to filter.

    Say you choose the “To” field, Then enter the text or rather the address the messages you want are sent to.

    You will see at the bottom “Perform these actions:

    More pull downs, two options “Move Massage to” and probably your email address.

    click on the second option and select your new folder.

    Then [OK]

    You will go back to the filters dialog box and your filter should be listed.

    Look at the bottom and you should see “Run selected filters”. By default it should be on your inbox.

    So far so good. Then choose “Run Now”.

    To see if you got the filter right, back all the way out.

    The highlight your Inbox -> Edit -> Select –>All

    The Tools -> Run Filters on Folder.

    I only use Windows when someone is threatening me with violence but I can check the sequence if you like.

    The thing is, don’t have a cow. Filters are not easy but they make handling large message bases a lot more manageable.

  26. Jeff Id said

    I don’t need instructions on filter or on search, search simply doesn’t work correctly. There are a number of threads on the topic but no solutions. If I search for a part number prefix in the email body such as t56, I get piles of unrelated stuff mixed in with the good. The unrelated stuff has no T56 in it.

    I don’t want to filter the email into a different box, they are already sorted well. It happens when I want to look up a conversation from a few months ago and say look at the quoted pricing or figure out what was said. It is very frustrating because most people don’t use computers as hard or in as much detail as I and this is a serious issue with using thunderbird as a primary client.

    I am forced currently to use Windows as Engineering software we use runs only on Windows. I have considered Linux with an emulator to run Windows when needed(forgot the name) but really don’t want to slow myself down.

  27. MartinGAtkins said

    It happens when I want to look up a conversation from a few months ago and say look at the quoted pricing or figure out what was said.

    Perhaps your system has been infected the dreaded Phil Jones Trojan.

    It usually shows up when anybody looks for any useful information in the message data base. The results end up appearing on a Russian server.

  28. Jeff Id said

    HAHA. Thanks for the suggestions. It is a bit frustrating that the stupid thing doesn’t work right. Maybe in my free time I’ll dig into their search code :D

  29. AugustFalcon said

    Another datapoint: Just did a search using Thunderbird trying to find the term “250RFS” in the body of any email in a local mailbox folder containing 217,320 emails on my computer (total size around 3.8 GB). It found only the 5 emails containing that term in the message body. This under Vista Home Premium SP2 64 bit on a machine with 4 GB memory running an Inter Pentium Dual E2220 at 2,4 GHz.

    Perhaps your folder(s) index(s) are screwed up. They can be repaired using a right click on the individual folder and then selecting properties and then clicking on repair.

  30. Lorenzo said

    Lorenzo says:
    Makasih artikel dan infonya yang menarik ini…

  31. dhlii said

    I do not use Thunderbird in the way you do so I can not comment on your searching problem – with Thunderbird or any other client.
    I do use multiple email accounts.
    I used outlook in the past, but more than a decade ago I switched to tools that would work cross platform. Today I primarily use Linux, but I still have to work with OS X and Windows on occasion. Outlook is not cross platform. I initially switched to Thunderbird and was mostly happy with it. But I have had issues with it more recently and have switched primarily to Evolution which is now available for windows. I do not think it is perfect, but it solved my problems with Thunderbird. I have used a plethora of other email programs in the past, including most of those mentioned by others. There does not appear to be any real strong effort to bring about a first rate email client. Thunderbird had potential but is languishing. Evolution is probably the only alternative that is not proactically stagnant, and it is not improving at a prodigious pace. The last time I used Outlook it was sluggish and had a tendency to eat things on occasion. Maybe they have fixed everything now, but after suffering for years I gave up. That theme has been generally true for me with most Microsoft products.

  32. Freddy said

    For email, searching is often called “Filtering”. I have a filter option on my TB toolbar that works fine (for me). I am connected to Gmail(mostly) using IMAP, which has different searching performance than other methods which store all the mail on your hard drive.

    For example, I went to tools|add-ons| Get Extensions and came up with several by searching for “search”, including this one, that looks nice.

    But also search for add-ons that “Filter”. It comes up with a completely different set.

  33. Evan said

    Hi Jeff,
    I like your blog and am sorry for the comments from those who clearly didn’t read your request.
    You mentioned your engineering app that needs windows to operate. Have you looked into ThinApp or VMware workstation? I was in the same boat and was able to use both with a high degree of success. If you have not looked into this let me know and I can provide more info on it. As for your search issues I use TB 3.1.9 and have no search issue. Someone had mentioned a corrupted database and in your case with the number of emails you have that could be the issue. If not corrupted then the next thing to look at is what info are you searching. For example when you search for a part number in email do you have all the emails downloaded locally or only part of the email? Search results can be erratic when searching only partial emails or on-line and local content. The last suggestion I have is the dreaded Google desktop. It offers a feature that will index your entire gmail account/s. All you need is an active net connection. Anyway hope some of this was helpful.

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