How could this newcomer be as good as Thunderbird? By using all of
Thunderbird's software code and adding on features of its own.
Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983
Stop paying for software:
Thunderbird offspring takes the free e-mail crown
August 23, 2009
By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2009, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2009, The Post-Standard
Postbox apparently is not free, according to the software's Web site. The beta version, which I tested, is free, but not the final release version. There was no hint of this change in status when I downloaded and installed the program. As a non-free program, Postbox ranks highly, but I recommend Thunderbird to those who do not want to pay for e-mail software.
The best way to save money is to stop spending it. That's the idea behind my new series on the best
free software for Windows and Macs. This week I'm recommending new e-mail software with oustanding organizational features.
Thunderbird, which I've often recommended as the safest and easiest-to-use e-mail software available, now
has a rival. It's called Postbox, and I'm convinced that it's as good as Thunderbird in most ways and even better in the
ease-of-use category. Like Thunderbird, Postbox is totally free.
How could this newcomer be as good as Thunderbird? By using all of Thunderbird's software code and adding
on features of its own. This probably sounds illegal, but it's perfectly OK. Thunderbird, a project of the Mozilla Foundation, is
an Open Source program, meaning that anyone can improve the code and even create a new program as long as proper credit is given
and the new software is also Open Source.
Postbox is incredible. Adding a couple of features here and
there would no doubt make Thunderbird a slick chick, but the programmers of Postbox decided to turn Thunderbird into a different
critter altogether -- into the software equivalent of a super-sharp-eyed eagle, able to locate specific messages and attachments
within a fraction of a second, even when you have thousands of messages.
Postbox, like Thunderbird, is available in identical versions for Windows and Macs. The version currently
available is a "pre-beta," which supposedly means the program isn't even ready for testing, let alone normal use. But my
experience with Postbox left no questions as to whether the software was ready to use. (I don't know why the Postbox engineers
call the current version "pre-beta." Maybe they're just being too cautious.)
You can download the current version from www.postbox-inc.com. The installer normally picks up your e-mail server settings. If it doesn't, you'll need
to type the server information into the program.
Message search is very fast, but it improves to what seems like the speed of light if you categorize your
messages -- something that takes only a couple of clicks. I've used e-mail categorizing methods for years, in software from
Microsoft Outlook to Apple's Mail, and it's always taken more time than it's worth.
But not in Postbox. Select one or more messages and click once to assign a category. Once you've listed
messages by category, photos attached to those messages are shown off to the right, grouped together -- a brilliant touch. And
links within those categorized messages are shown together on the right, too, as are sender and frecipient addresses. You never
need to fish through any of your messages for photos, URLs or names.
There are many more features, including advanced anti-phishing (from an online database updated every 30
minutes) and automatic, no-effort-needed program updates.
I know how hard it is to change habits and switch e-mail software. But Postbox could make a big difference
in how at least part of your life is organized. Give it a try.