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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 115.12.0 released on 11th June 2024

Today we are shipping Betterbird version 115.12.0-bb29. Please refer to the release notes for details. German, Dutch, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Polish, Russian, Czech, 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"

Betterbird 115 has been around since June 2023 in its beta version and since July 2023 in its release version.

Unlike Thunderbird, we're not calling it "Supernova" because that sounds too much like destruction, 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:

Betterbird 102 series

As of 26th September 2023, the 102 series of Betterbird has reached "end of life" status and will no longer receive updates. Please switch to Betterbird 115.

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. The first part of Account Colours will ship in BB 115.5.2-bb20 as a 2023 Christmas present. 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: 184, Version 91: 270, Version 102: 395 (66 still unresolved), Version 115: No record (22 July 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.
Update July 2023: The employee working on the QA team hasn't been seen since May 2023, Bugzilla gives the impression that new bugs for version 115 aren't triaged and are also not bundled any more. However, new bugs announced on the Beta Mailing List easily add up to well over 500.

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.

Colours

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

Source code, Downloads
Our GitHub repository github.com/Betterbird/
Arch Linux packages
(English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Japanese)
aur.archlinux.org
FlatPak flathub.org/.../Betterbird
github.com/flathub/eu.betterbird.Betterbird
Winget winstall.app/apps/Betterbird.Betterbird
Chocolatey community.chocolatey.org/packages/betterbird
Windows 11 Downloads Betterbird on Windows 11 Downloads
Softpedia www.softpedia.com/.../Betterbird.shtml
Forums ...
Discussion about all things Betterbird (in German) Forum @ www.thunderbird-mail.de
Reddit (handle with care) www.reddit.com/r/Betterbird/
Articles, opinions ...
Interview with the project leader (in German) linuxnews.de
Article "The email client Thunderbird could have been" betanews.com - downloadcrew.com
Daves Computer Tips Thunderbird vs. Betterbird
YouTube Video about installing Betterbird www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnWjAJzmGy4
YouTube Video (in Spanish and a little outdated) www.youtube.com/watch?v=0BCR8PUmst4
Search on Google, more stuff apearing all the time: www.google.com/search?q=betterbird

Examples of Betterbird being better in version 115.12.0-bb29

FeatureBetterbirdThunderbird
Features exclusive to Betterbird
Multi-line view like in Outlook, Lotus Notes and Postbox Yes! Requested since 2003. Thunderbird 115 now has a "cards view".
Vertical tabs (by alta88) Yes! Bug on file
Account colours Yes! Waiting since 2018
Attachments on top (by alta88)Yes! Bug on file
Header pane resize (by alta88) Yes!No, but limited add-on support
Secondary sort indicators (by alta88) Yes!Secondary sort not obvious and unknown to users
More window layouts (by alta88)Yes!Only standard layouts
Edit headers of message (by alta88)Yes!Add-on needed
Change threading of messages (by alta88)Yes!No. No longer available via add-on.
Manually sort foldersYes!Add-on which provided the function no longer working
Complex search terms Yes! No, requested since 2005
Regular expressions in search terms Yes! No, requested since 1999
Quick search, folder search and filters ignore diacriticsYes! No, requested since 2009
Quick Filter button negation incl. untagged messages (by alta88) Yes! No, development stalled since 2016
Global search in PGP and S/MIME encrypted messagesYes! No, requested since 2003
Quick filter and folder search in PGP and S/MIME encrypted messagesYes! Not working ☹️
Windows system tray New messages count and folder listNew messages count
Linux system tray Yes! Waiting since 1999
Minimize to system tray on LinuxYes! Bug on file
Open news message by IDYes! No, requested since 2000
Menu bar on top where it belongsYes! Supernova, kaboom!
Total and unread/selected count in status barYes! Supernova, kaboom!
Connecting lines in threaded viewNot ideal, but yes!No, Supernova, kaboom!
Various improvements for feeds (by alta88)Yes!Supernova, kaboom!
Configurable display of addresses in message listYes! Nope, request from 2011, add-on that did it broken now
Better and configurable multi-select Yes! No, shows summary, requested since 2006
Optional tab restoreYes! No, requested since 2009
Printed attachment listShowing correct detailsNo details ☹️
Startup FolderCan select folder for startupRestores last opened folder
File Attachments Can attach recent files No recent files
Attach files via Windows soft-linkYes! No, requested since 2005
Global search results can open to list viewYes! No, requested since 2010
Activity ManagerOpens in tabOpens in stand-alone window
Unix Movemail supportYes! No, removed by mistake from version 91
Open links from compose windowYes! No, requested since 2011
Bug fixes so far exclusive to Betterbird(*)
Works well with more than 500 foldersOf course!Loses message summary files (MSF) ☹️
Correct handling of non-breaking spaces (Ctrl+Shift+Space)
(for French typography)
Yes! No, requested since 2006
View > Repair Text EncodingFixing subject and remembering repaired state Not fixing the subject, need to re-apply
Visual feedback during Quick Filter SearchOf course!Supernova, kaboom!
Windows system notificationsOf course! Supernova, kaboom!
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.