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Betterbird. Simply better.

Betterbird is a fine-tuned version of Mozilla Thunderbird, Thunderbird on steroids, if you will.

Betterbird is better than Thunderbird in three ways: It contains new features exclusive to Betterbird, it contains bug fixes exclusive to Betterbird and it contains fixes that Thunderbird may ship at a later stage. Please refer to this feature table for examples. This should give you an impression of where the project is headed.

Easy adoption: You can install Betterbird at the same time as Thunderbird and run them on the same profile. That means that you can try out Betterbird with zero hassle, and go back to Thunderbird if you don't like it - which is unlikely. Please read the fine print on our support page.

More information on why we're doing the project can be found at the FAQ. Or just see our illustrator's impression:

Which party would you join?

Betterbird 102.0 "preview" released on 24th June 2022

Today we are shipping the first release "bb8" of Betterbird version 102. In a successful beta period of Betterbird, we shipped the first beta release "bb1" on 6th June 2022, the last beta release "bb7" on 22nd June 2022.

Betterbird 102.11.1 released on 25th May 2023

Today we are shipping Betterbird version 102.11.1-bb36. Please refer to the release notes for details. German, Dutch, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Polish, Russian, Albanian, Japanese and Chinese localisations available, other languages on request. A portable version for Windows is also available. There's also a Mac build in English only, which can be localised using Betterbird language packs.

Betterbird 115 "Superstar" is coming

Unlike Thunderbird, we're not calling it "Supernova" because that sounds too much like descruction, see Wikipedia: "... a powerful and luminous explosion of a star turning the original star into a neutron star or black hole, or completely destroying it".

One very disconcerting trend is becoming clear: More and more functionality that existed for decades is being removed from Thunderbird. Of course we will endeavour to restore it in Betterbird:

We have integrated all our features and fixes into the Thunderbird 115 codebase and are now waiting for that codebase to stabilise. There are currently (1st June 2023) about 140 open bugs, see report here. That's down from a peak of about 200 bugs, some of which have simply been closed as "wont fix".

Betterbird 91 series

As of 20th September, the 91 series of Betterbird has reached "end of life" status and will no longer receive updates. Please switch to Betterbird 102.

Betterbird Survey 2023

At the beginning of 2023 we conducted a survey among our supporters and users asking two questions: "What do you like?" and "What do you like to see improved?".

Top answers to the first question were:

Features people like to see in the future:

The good news is that System Tray support for Linux
Systray Linux
and the Insert menu were already included in release 102.7.0. Regular expressions in search terms/filters followed in release 102.7.1. As of version 102.11.0, program icons can be customised on both Windows and Linux. Account Colours will be implemented after the release of 2023's major version 115. Please get in touch via this GitHub issue if you can contribute to the implementation of calendar subtasks.

Software Quality

Based on the current situation in version 102, a look at quality assurance, or lack thereof, is appropriate. Thunderbird has never had an organised quality assurance team, they let the product ripen at the customer site, at worst causing data loss like for version 102. The 102 release with mbox and MSF corruption causing data loss and deleted MSF files was nothing short of disastrous.

More and more developers are hired who contribute more and more changes causing an ever growing number of regressions (Wikipedia: A software regression is a type of software bug where a feature that has worked before stops working). The team tracks bugs found in early deployment of a release, and the trend is astounding: Version 68: 43, Version 78: 185, Version 91: 270, Version 102: 394 (76 still unresolved) (12 March 2023).
Thunderbird error trend

Thunderbird management has discussed establishing a QA team since 2020, but in the end, funds were spent on hiring more developers. In this context, this article seems to mark the beginning of a new era. But will Thunderbird finally catch up with quality and usability issues? Our project leader wrote an answer.

Other news

Want to see Betterbird running on a mobile ARM64 device (Samsung Galaxy Tab S7), click here. Note: That's the work of a volunteer, not strictly related to the Betterbird project.

For the much requested multi-line view, see here for details.


The red-orange colour scheme is part of the registered trademark. Red-orange together with a Phoenix-like bird on one hand signify a more aggressive policy and on the other hand a resurrection from the ashes unleashing the potential of the product while not being bogged down by annoying bugs.

We've had many requests to change the icons to make them better distinguishable from Firefox to avoid misclicks. As the colour scheme is part of the trademark, we will not change the default icons shipped with the product or the icons used in the product. However, Windows and Linux users can change program and system tray icons as described here.

Due to the current situation in Europe, we were featuring the Betterbird logo at this website in Ukrainian colours from March to July 2022. This has now be replaced by a ribbon of solidarity.

Betterbird elsewhere on the web

Our GitHub repository
Discussion about all things Betterbird (in German) Forum @
Interview with the project leader (in German)
Arch Linux packages
(English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Japanese, Chinese (91 only))
YouTube Video about installing Betterbird
YouTube Video (in Spanish and a little outdated)
Search on Google, more stuff apearing all the time:
Reddit article showing up in the Google search: Handle with care, some posters there can't read or click a link

Examples of Betterbird being better in version 102.11.1-bb36

Features exclusive to Betterbird
Multi-line view like in Outlook, Lotus Notes and Postbox Yes!No, requested since 2003
Complex search terms Yes!No, requested since 2005
Regular expressions in search terms Yes!No, requested since 1999
Quick Filter untagged messages Yes!No, development stalled since 2016
Global search in encrypted messagesYes!Not working ☹️
Quick Filter search in encrypted messagesYes!Not working
Windows system tray New messages count and folder listNew messages count
Linux system tray Yes! Waiting since 1999
Other improvements for news readersOpen message by ID,
no "phantom" unread messages.
Configurable display of addresses in message listYes!Can add more columns with add-on
Better and configurable multi-select Yes!No, requested since 2006
Option to send plain text or HTMLYes!Can only send plain text and HTML
Printed attachment listShowing correct detailsNo details ☹️
Startup FolderCan select folder for startupRestores last opened folder
File Attachments Can attach recent filesNo recent files
Activity ManagerOpens in tabOpens in stand-alone window
Unix Movemail supportYes!No, removed by mistake from version 91
Bug fixes so far exclusive to Betterbird(*)
Works well with more than 500 foldersOf course!Loses message summary files (MSF) ☹️
Opening an attachmentWorking fineSometimes missing from the list of Saved Files
Correct handling of non-breaking spaces (Ctrl+Shift+Space)
(for French typography)
Yes!No, requested since 2006
Inserting links with spacesWorking fineRandom incorrect results
View > Repair Text EncodingFixing subject and remembering repaired stateNot fixing the subject, need to re-apply
Various other bugs (see release notes)Fixed!Waiting, hoping, ... 🥱

Of course the Thunderbird team is busily adding a whole bunch of much welcomed new stuff and improvements, but making sure that everything remains in working order falls by the wayside. Thunderbird is shipped with unnecessary regressions, so things that used to work stopped working.
Best example: 91.3.2 shipped with broken Calendar printing 😩
(*) We supply our changes to Thunderbird, but it is unclear if/when "upstream" will accept them.