Thunderbird add-ons I use
Posted on Sunday, April 5, 2009 by TheBlackzone
Every now and then I spend some time browsing through the extension directory of the Thunderbird email client to see if there are any new add-ons that could further enhance my email management.
While there are a ton of great add-ons, I'd like to point out a few of them that I use in my current setup and that have become sort of indispensable for me.
First, these days one cannot be without a decent calendar system. I have used (and in some cases still use) various systems for my day-to-day planning, but meanwhile I almost exclusively use Google Calendar for this purpose. Since I like to have my email and calendar in one place I installed the Lightning Calendar Extension which brings multi-calendar and task-list functionality to Thunderbird and integrates seamlessly into the application.
Since I use Google Calendar, *Lightning* wouldn't be complete without the provider for Google Calendar, which makes it easy to link your Google Calendar to Lightning. Once set up, your GCals behave like any other calendar in Lightning, of course with full write access.
People who know me are aware of the fact that I hardly type any kind of text outside my beloved VIM editor. Thus the External Editor extension is exactly what I need. With this extension you can define your favorite text editor and use it from within a message window to type your message.
keyconfig is an incredible productivity enhancer and by far the most important extension for Thunderbird to me. First, it allows you to re-define your keyboard and associate the built-in Thunderbird functions to the keys of your choice. I used that to have a similar keyboard experience like in Gmail. But it takes it even further by allowing you to write whole functions and assign them to a single keystroke. This allows you to do almost anything with a single press of a key. I use it, for example, to navigate through my folders (F1-F10 are associated to different, most used, folders), to move or copy messages with a single keystroke, to insert text blocks, copy message details to the clipboard and so on. For the more advanced functionality you certainly need some knowledge of Java Script and the Thunderbird framework, but I found it worth the effort to dive into that. *keyconfig* can boost your email efficiency like nothing else.
Nostalgy helps organizing your emails by quickly selecting folders to save or copy messages to. It selects folders as you type their names or choose them from a history list. You can also use the functionality to navigate through your folder structure. I use it to save messages to not-so-frequent sub folders for which I don't have defined a keystroke with *keyconfig*.
QuickText is another great productivity enhancer for Thunderbird. It enables you to define text snippets (even with variables for e. g. time, date, recipient name, attachment list, etc.) and use them with a keyboard shortcut or short text while you type your message. If you, like me, write a lot of emails you should give it a try. It's excellent.
SmartSave does a great job when it comes to exporting messages from your mailbox. It exports single messages as well as whole folders to EML files and is an ideal tool for manual backups. I mainly use it to backup my Gmail account.
Finally, for visual enhancement I use the CuteBird theme. *CuteBird* is an extremely well done theme that resembles the look of Apple Macintosh applications. There's also a version for Mozilla Firefox available.
A minor extension I installed is the German dictionary. I mention this because there seem to be a lot of people who are unaware of the fact that Thunderbird has a neat spellchecker that easily allows multiple languages.
So far these are all the extensions I use in my current setup. There are a lot more I use in Firefox, but that's a different story...