Dumping Eudora: 2005 Impressions of Mail vs. Thunderbird


macrumors 68000
Original poster
I've been using Eudora since it was at version 1.1 and could fit on a single floppy disk. All of my email has been archived in it since like 1992, and I've managed to pull Eudora mailboxes through four different computer systems and OSes: two PCs (Win 3.1, Win95 - Win2K), and two Macs (thank you CRLF!). I love Eudora, but lately it seems to really be diminishing in quality for me - malformed HTML email (sending and receiving), Mac incompatibilities with file types and sending to PCs, hideous GUI, the list goes on...

So, I've only heard wonderful things about Mail and Thunderbird - and uncovered a few old comparison threads: here, here, and here. In 2005, with Mail on Tiger and Thunderbird at 1.0.6, how do they stack up against each other? Both are based on open standards - is one better than the other in this area? Does one manage massive quantities of email better than the other? What do y'all think - who out there has used both, which do you prefer, and why?

Kind thanks!


Moderator emeritus
Jun 25, 2002
Gone but not forgotten.
I gave up on Eudora a long time ago. Tech support tried to help me with HTML rendering difficulties but it didn't help. When I switched to Panther, the mail index was forever corrupted and the index was re-created incorrectly so there went all my mail history. I had switched all my mail attachments in Eudora to UU but even people had trouble with that. When I needed to send something across platforms, I used Mozilla.

Now, Thuderbird does it all, and as far as I can see, it's much better at it. Searching a lot of mail would likely be its downfall but I haven't noticed yet since my volume of mail is minimal now.


Staff member
Jan 20, 2005
Wow...timely topic for me. I used Eudora for ten years and just switched to Mail on Tiger last week because my university is dumping its site license for Eudora. At first I thought it was just a case of hating change, but I really do think Eudora is far better than Mail...

1. Eudora's anti-phishing popups that tell you if a link will take you to a different site than you'd think it would...

2. Eudora's much more visually pleasing Inbox formatting (I prefer the grid-like demarcations of Eudora).

3. If you have multiple new messages in Eudora, deleting an open one automatically opens the next one.

4. Having to use command-delete is much less convenient than command-d for me. With Eudora, I can have my left hand poised over the command-d to delete things as my right hand navigates with arrows and return. In Mail I have to do it all with my right hand (leaving my left hand free for other things, I guess...).

I don't know...maybe there are ways to do these things in Mail, but I haven't figured them out yet. I'm committed to the Mail switch though...


macrumors 603
Aug 15, 2001
The Cool Part of CA, USA
This is a topic of interest to me, since I use and administer systems with all three programs and have been trying to settle on the best one to recommend. I'm just ranting long-winded here on personal experiences, but in case anyone finds this sort of thing helpful:

For a long time I've been setting up offices to use Eudora, and I very much like the portability of its data folders--as long as you're opening up the correct settings file, the folder can be anywhere. Sadly, I've been having more and more problems with it, particularly on office systems with only a few users who want to store their mail folders on a fileserver for backup purposes (yes, I know a centralized mail server would be nice, but that's not always a realistic option for a number of reasons).

My beefs with Eudora are that it tends to bog down severely on folders with over a few thousand messages, particularly over a network, and probably more importantly it is frighteningly easy to corrupt settings; I've seen three times in recent weeks on both Mac and PC versions where users lost either their main settings (and backup!) or their entire address book for no particularly good reason.

At home, I use both Eudora and Mail for different accounts, and the truth is I enjoy Mail more--at least under 10.3 and 10.4 it runs more smoothly, feels MUCH more polished, and handles HTML mail and attachments better. It also works drastically better with non-English mail, which is important to me (Eudora can handle non-English text, but it has issues, particularly in subject lines). The search features also generally, if not always, work better. Eudora has its strongpoints--speed in a few cases, bulk simple-text searching and the interface is better for sorting large volumes of mail in some cases. Oh, and Mail has a very good spam filter--several times better than Eudora's, responds well to training, and impressively accurate.

Mail of course has the disadvantage that its files go in your Library folder, period. You want to back up, you back up your Library whether you want to or not. This, for office clients, is my big beef with it and not one I've figured out a good fix for. Were it not for this and relative difficulty transeferring accounts from one user to another (something Eudra excels at), I'd probably have most Mac users on it already.

Meanwhile I'm still trying to get a feel for Thunderbird; I haven't tried the Mac version thoroughly yet, but it seems to be a more stable alternative to Eudra on the PC. It actually feels a lot more like Mail (and the hated Outlook Express) than Eudora (particuarly the funky Windows Eudora layout), but that can be a plus or minus depending on your taste. It's been pretty stable in office environments as of version 1, and I haven't seen any security issues with it, either, though a few oddball bugs have popped up here and there. The free and cross platform part is nice, too, and it can technically store its data files on a user-specificed volume (including a server), though the process is a little arcane.

In all, I think for the average Mac user you're probably going to be happy with Mail--I am, as are most people I know. If you're looking for more cross-platform goodness, I don't see any reason not to try Thunderbird, but if you don't have a particular reason to "need" it, I'd stick to Mail for simplicity and the good spam filter.


macrumors 604
Mar 17, 2004
Melenkurion Skyweir
(I apologize to the OP, because I'm going a bit off topic here...)

Concerning office setups, I'm wondering, why don't you set up a central mail server that serves IMAP mail? That way, you don't need to have your mail on your system, it's all on the server. You only have to back up mail on the server itself, not on each individual machine. This would then make it possible to have a central filesystem that serves everything for everyone. Then it would make technical support a snap. Just make all the computer semi-dumb terminals (and transition into true dumb terminals in the future), and have all systems format and reinstall with the default corporate configuration and programs, every night or week or whatever (similar to how it is set up in Apple Stores). And for personnel who need their own HD space, they get a specialized computer that has a secondary HD, basically. He can store anything on that HD, and the primary HD will get formatted without touching the secondary HD.

I don't get it, why don't more offices do this?
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