Thunderbird Ascendant

January 13, 2006

You may recall a while back I fired Thunderbird from dealing with my RSS feeds. While I’ve used it for a while now as a mail reader (and love it with a deep and burning passion), it had a flaky/nonintuitive RSS reader. My bloglines subscription filled me with glee and happiness, and the world was as it should have been.

Thunderbird 1.5 is breaking up my relationship with Bloglines. The new RSS reader is ridiculously fast (it pulled down the info from my 200+ feeds so fast I didn’t even realize it had done anything), easy to organize, and extremely easy to use. I need to act aggressively to get my stuff on Bloglines cleared out, but after that I’ll be in T-bird heaven. Yay for technology!

The most satisfying part was the ease of transition. In Bloglines’ favour, it was a matter of moments to export my feeds as an xml file, and another moment to import them in Thunderbird. Strike against T-bird: It didn’t preserve my folders (I’m not sure if that’s possible). The upside to that was going through and pruning out dead feeds and the like. Here’s a handy tip for setting all of those ‘new’ feeds to read. Right click on the feed and hit the ‘k’ key. That means ‘Mark Folder As Read’. It will set all of the entries in that feed to read, and you can move on to the next one.

By default the reader comes with some interesting choices. You can choose to load the actual web page the RSS feed references, or just the summary. Slower connections may want the latter. It comes with the unrealistic setting of ‘check for new messages every 100 minutes’. You’ll definitely want to fix that. Individual feeds can have individual settings; If you want to archive a feed specifically, you can do that with ease.

One element that is already sending happy signals to my brain is the Search feature. T-bird’s email search is quick and painless, and the same is true for the RSS Search. You have several criteria open to you for searching, and it pops up hits as it finds them.

I’m already a big fan of this aspect of Thunderbird. I highly recommend it to anyone managing a large number of RSS Feeds.

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