Thunderbird Review

Last Updated: Feb 17, 2022

Thunderbird Review
Rating4 Stars
Retention500 Days
Free TrialNone
FeaturesMail Reader and Usenet Client
Very Basic Newsreader Functions
Supports Multiple Servers

Designed and developed by the same makers of Firefox, Thunderbird is a Usenet client capable of reading mail and articles off of Usenet. It is free to use and can run on multiple popular platforms, including Mac, Windows and Linux.

Thunderbird has no Usenet search features and does not support NZBs since it is only meant for reading Usenet and not binary downloading. However, as a free newsreader, it does its main job well at zero cost.

If a simple newsreader is not for you and you are looking for either a free Usenet client with binary downloading features or a paid option, we have several listed on this website.

Highlighted Features

Thunderbird performs the basic functions of a newsreader. It reads articles from Usenet newsgroups and functions as a very good email client. The software has a modern and clean-looking interface and has functions that are easy to understand and use.

Thunderbird quickly generates newsgroups lists and searches these newsgroups efficiently so you can check out the messages you are interested in or are looking for.

Thunderbird Interface Thunderbird Newsgroups List Thunderbird Search for Messages
  • Very good email client
  • Basic Newsreader functions
  • No binary downloading capabilities
  • Mail Account Set-up Wizard
  • Tabbed Email
  • Built-in calendar
  • Built-in one click address book
  • Chat Feature
  • Quick Filter Toolbar
  • Search Tools & Message Archive
  • Newsgroups Management
  • Newsgroups filters
  • Filelink Option
  • Feed Subscription
  • Capable of importing data from another program
  • Built-in Do Not Track and Remote Content Blocking
  • Customizable with Extensions and Themes

The newest stable release of Thunderbird, version 91, includes a lot of new features and bug fixes. The most notable of these new features include:

  • Multi-Process Support - this makes Thunderbird work faster than ever by taking better advantage of the processor of your computer by splitting up the application into multiple smaller processes instead of running as one large one.

  • New Account Set-up - new wizard not only features a better look, but does auto-discovery of calendars and address books and allows most users to set them up with just a click.

  • Attachments Pane + Darag and Drop Overlay - The attachments pane has been moved to the bottom of the compose window for better visibility of filenames as well as being able to see many at once. They’ve also added an overlay that appears when you drag-and-drop a file into the compose window asking how you would like to handle the file in that email.

  • PDF Viewer - now has a built-in PDF viewer, which means you can read and even do some editing on PDFs sent to you as attachments.

  • UI Density Control - Three options are available: compact – which puts everything closer together, normal – the experience you are accustomed to in Thunderbird, and touch – that makes icons bigger and separates elements.

  • Calendar Sidebar Improvements - There is a quick enable button for disabled calendars, as well as a show/hide icon for easily toggling what calendars are visible. There is also a lock indicator for read-only calendars.

  • Other notable news features:

    • Better Dark Theme
    • Native support for macOS devices built with Apple Silicon CPU
    • CardDAV Address Book Support (and CardDAV auto-detection support)
    • Printing UI updated
    • Ability to change order of accounts in UI
    • Support opening of .ics files by double-click in calendar

Aside from the latest version featuring new updates that include the following:

  • New language - Latvian
  • Existing email set up made easier
  • CardDAV and CalDAV support and auto-detection added
  • Several stacked views in your email folder
  • Native support for macOS devices built with Apple Silicon
  • New public bulk mail notification
  • New user interface for adding attachments
  • New integrated PDF viewer
  • Improvements and fixes to the Dark theme
  • Image-based emoticons replaced with Unicode characters

The latest release in February 15 2022 which is version 91.6 closed security gaps and fixed various errors.

Thunderbird also released its beta version, 97.0, in January 11, 2022. Users of this beta version are encouraged to give feedback on how to imporve the beta version and report or file a bug if there are any.

Plans & Pricing

Thunderbird is free to download and use. It is funded via user donations so that the software can continuously be supported and developed. You can donate via PayPal, credit cards, SEPA/ BACS or Check. The developers accept one time donations or monthly donations of a minimum of $2.

Usage Overview

Since Thunderbird has minimal features and is just a very basic newsreader, it is quite easy to use and navigate through. However, configuring the software requires a bit of a learning curve since it is mainly an email client and may not be something that a lot of newsreader users are used to.


Installing Thunderbird depends on the operating system of your machine. Below is a detailed description of the installation process for Windows, Mac and Linux.

Windows Installation:

  • Check that your computer meets the system requirements
  • Download the installer from the Thunderbird download page.
  • Click “Run” to start the process
  • Follow the usual installation steps as instructed by the set-up wizard
  • Open the app once you’re done installing

Mac Installation:

  • Check that your computer meets the system requirements
  • Download the installer from the Thunderbird download page.
  • Click on the .dmg file
  • Open the downloaded file
  • Move the Thunderbird Icon to your Applications folder
  • Open the app once you’re done

Linux Installation:

  • Download Thunderbird from the download page
  • Open terminal and go to your home directory
  • Extract contents of the downloaded file
    • tar xjf thunderbird-*.tar.bz2
  • Close Thunderbird if it opens
  • To start Thunderbird, run the thunderbird script in the thunderbird folder
    • -/thunderbird/thunderbird
  • Thunderbird should now start. You can create a launcher on your desktop to run this command.


As mentioned, Thunderbird can be difficult to configure initially especially for Usenet service providers like Newshosting or other paid Usenet services. However, once you’ve properly configured this software, it will be easy to use and navigate through.

  • Add an NNTP/ Usenet connection
  • Enter your server name and port
  • Enable SSL/TLS connection security
  • Configure server settings
    • Checking for new messages
    • Number of messages to download
    • Authentication request
    • Message storage
  • Thunderbird connects and downloads all available groups
Thunderbird Server Settings

You can also sift messages by enabling filters. You can apply these filters on specific servers, and these filters will run automatically based on the order you’ve entered them.

Thunderbird Message Filters

Scheduling & Automation

Thunderbird has an automated update feature that checks if you are running the latest version of the software. When updates are available, it instantly sends you an update.

This email client also has a built-in lightning calendar that allows you to manage schedules, create to-do lists and even subscribe to public calendars.

And as mentioned, Thunderbird has an automatic message filter you can configure to slim down your message results based only on what you are looking for.


While Thunderbird is a little complicated to initially configure, once you’re done with that process, using the software is relatively easy. Since it is a very basic newsreader and an email client, there’s not a lot you can do if you compare it to other Usenet clients. Having said that, Thunderbird gets its job done well as an email client and a software capable of reading messages from Usenet.

Thunderbird has a modern-looking and an easy-to-navigate interface that can be enjoyed by a lot of users who are just in need of a basic newsreader. It has some features that enhance productivity and some functions that allow you to streamline your message reading and viewing experience.


Thunderbird is a good option as far as free and basic newsreaders are concerned. However, if you are in need of a Usenet client that is also capable of downloading binaries, then you might want to look for other newsreader/ NZB downloader options that would address that need. But while Thunderbird may not be able to compete with top newsreaders out there, it is a software that is worth exploring and considering if you are only into reading off of Usenet.

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