Goodbye Outlook, Hello Thunderbird

Can you believe it? A geek such as myself who, until today, was still using Microsoft Outlook! Oh, the horror! Oh, the shame! Well, shame no more. I've left Outlook and have started using Thunderbird! Huzzah!

What took so long?
First, some history. Several years back I was using Goldmine as an email client and CRM. As simply an email client, it was WAY too much. Nothing like having 1000 features that you were using 5 of. However, when I was using it to run a side business, I found it amazingly handy for setting up auto-responders and for mail-merging newsletters. Not to mention the fact that I really loved being able to see the entire history of contact with a client in a single window. I know this will probably make you cringe, but I would likely still be using Goldmine today if it the would allow me to sync data back and forth to my iphone. Unfortunately that requires the latest version of GoldMine, which they won't sell to a company with less than 5 users. This is how I came to use Outlook again.

Honestly, I've never been a really big fan of Outlook. But, they sure made it easy to sync my email, calendar, notes, and address book back and forth with my iPhone. So even though it was embarrassing to admit that I was using it, Outlook remained my go-to app.

Why switch now?
You know how it's really difficult to throw out a pair of jeans you've had for a long time even though they have some holes? That's really what I was being faced with. It wasn't a matter of not wanting to switch. I did want to switch. But, I wasn't really excited about the options that were available to me.

Over the past few weeks, something really crazy has been happening with my computer. All of a sudden the TAB and ENTER keys would become useless. After much digging around, it turns out that Outlook was starting a second instance of itself which was sucking up large amounts of memory, and apparently locking up a few keys on my keyboard. Sure, it was easy enough to fix. CTRL-ALT-DEL and then kill the duplicate process. But this wasn't the only issue. Actually, this was just the final straw.

Why Thunderbird?
I've actually used Thunderbird in the past and have been a big fan. I really enjoy the keyboard shortcuts and the ability to install add-ons is a big benefit. I was able to install add-ons for syncing my contacts and calendar out to Google which will allow me to sync to my iPhone. Plus, I have several friends who use it as well. This means I have built in tech-support when I need it, which is never a bad thing!

What have I learned?
While I'm initially happy with the new app, it's definitely going to take some getting used to. Things that I'm so used to doing in Outlook are just a little different in Thunderbird. But, one of the main things I have learned is that I'm not 100% convinced that I need to be syncing my contacts from my email program to my iPhone.

It's funny how a feature that 24 hours ago I would have said was critical has turned out to be not so important. This came up today when I was installing the add-ons for syncing the address book out to Google. When it imported my contacts from Google I realized that there are easily 200 contacts on there that I have ZERO need to import to my iPhone. Somebody I've emailed once certainly doesn't need to be taking up a spot on my already huge list of contacts. I may try to set up groups and see if I can import them and keep the important people on the front page and the less-than important people a few pages back.

Overall I'm happy with the move. It's still early yet and I could change my tune a few days. But, for now Outlook is a thing of the past.

3 Comments

  1. james on August 5, 2010 at 3:21 am

    thunderbird is just as antiquated as outlook – get in the cloud!

    i ditched outlook in favour of gmail… what used to be folders and a 20gb .pst file on one machine are now tags easily searchable from any machine i'm on.

  2. Tom on August 5, 2010 at 3:35 am

    Curious – you use Gmail (said so in a past post) – and you work so much online – any reason that you would not use Gmail for Domains? I use it for two businesses – the online one and the offline one. Haven't had a problem. The 'on someone else's server' does make for concerns, but it doesn't scare me as much as Facebook! (which I also use).

    • vegasgeek on August 5, 2010 at 4:28 pm

      We actually were using Google Apps and had our mail routed over there for the past 5 months or so. Unfortunately, we were having issues with it and after several attempts to try and solve it, rather than spending more time on it, we switched it back to our main server and I can honestly say that I'm much happier for it.

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