tv trip, thunderbird config

Another night in a hotel. At some point it was actually fun to be in a (relatively) clean room, where someone else takes care of your laundry. But the anonymity and rootlessness finally gets you. I am supposed to talk about games and simulation in national television (MTV3 morning show) tomorrow, and for those five minutes it was necessary to make two two-hour train trips, and spend a night in a hotel. (Added irony, BBC World show ‘Business Traveller’ just displays images captured from Rovaniemi, my old home town at the Arctic Circle. Things and people displaced, in a complex dance of matter and some mind.)

I am currently trying out Mozilla Thunderbird as the default email program at my work laptop. After years of working with MS Outlook, the simple act of transferring my contacts, mails and filtering rules into this other program is not so simple. Thunderbird crashed almost at the very start. After sacrificing perhaps 95 % of my correspondence archives (I still count on having a backup copy at my home PC), I got this Mozilla thing running. It has its benefits, I admit: it is not as heavy as that enourmous bloatware of Outlook, and it mostly does well those things you expect from a mail program. But there are some stupidities, too. Everyone with a laptop inevitably will also have to use several outgoing mail servers (SMTP). There appears to be no drop-down menu in the compose new message window that would allow you to select among those you have; there is only the tortuous process of going into the advanced mail account settings – and you have to do this every time you move from context to another! I am currently looking into Thunderbird add-ons (extensions), whether someone in this happy family of open-source software would have come up with a solution to this issue. But during the Tampere-Pasila train travel, Thunderbird was having numerous hiccups (endlessly trying to copy all sent messages into ‘Sent’ folder, without success, perhaps because of the breaky GPRS connection, even if it should be able to work off-line perfectly – and I even do not want to have outgoing messages copied into the Sent folder: I want them in those project folders I originally started to write that reply message!)

This is perhaps again one of those boring techno-rambles, sorry; but for a person whose work is extremely dependent on online tools, and email most of all, the decision over the email program is something that will have a major impact later on.

Author: frans

Professor of Information Studies and Interactive Media, esp. Digital Culture and Game Studies in the University of Tampere, Finland.

4 thoughts on “tv trip, thunderbird config”

  1. … It is quite possible that I’m making a fool out of myself here 🙂 – but I’m quite certain I’ve seen a thunderbird with the exact feature you were after: outgoing mail server selection at the top of compose new message dialog. It might have something to do with having multiple accounts, since that thunderbird also had two accounts – both with different smtp servers. I can confirm this the next time I meet that thunderbird (which should actually be quite soon). Of course it could also be that I misunderstood the feature you’re after.

  2. Hi Ilari,

    I would be extremely happy if you could check that out; I am sure that kind of basic functionality needs to be implemented somehow. I am also figuring out a way to save copies of sent messages in the project subfolders, but it might be trickier feat…

  3. Yes, I now confirmed it. And it is indeed dependent on multiple accounts. If you have multiple accounts, you can set them to use designated outgoing SMTP servers instead of the default (from account settings).

    When you are writing a mail, there’s a dropdown box at the top of the compose window (from-field) from which you can select which account you want to use for sending the mail. If a different account uses a designated SMTP server thunderbird will then use that server for sending the mail.

    This is of course not an ideal solution, since you need to create a complete dummy account with a different SMTP server to be able to choose it from the from-dropdown. There may well be an extension that handles the situation more gracefully.

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