Mostly Harmless

Mostly about my amusement

Thunderbird Webmail Extension

I am a big user of freely available software. Here is a short list of what I use.

  1. Firefox – no brainer
  2. Paint.NET – Image editing
  3. WordPress – Server blog software
  4. Thunderbird – email

Thunderbird 2.0 now integrates with Vista. I like it because it’s a full fledged email client. In order to use it with web mail, you need to turn on POP3 with the mail provider. Google Mail supports this but with Yahoo and Hotmail you need to shell out some dollars.

With the Webmail extension for Thunderbird you can treat Yahoo, Hotmail, and a bunch of others as if they were a POP3 mailbox. The extension listens on localhost on a port that you can decide (defaults are POP3 at 110, SMTP at 25, and and IMAP at 143) and receives e-mail from the site for you. Thunderbird then connects to localhost to get the POP3 mail.

Webmail extension dialogOn my Vista system I could not use the port defaults. It’s probably due to Vista goofiness or the personal firewall software I use. I first installed the Webmail extension and changed the defaults to 8110 and 8025. Here is what the options dialog box looked like.

After that I installed the additional Yahoo and Hotmail extensions and configured them both for the BETA website versions. With the Web Mail extension installed in Thunderbird 2.0 you can now add Webmail accounts. These accounts are just POP3 mail accounts that happen to speak to localhost. I changed the account names to make them shorter. If all goes well you should have something like this added to your folders list.

Webmail folders

This also works in Thunderbird 1.5 (I tried it on my Ubuntu laptop) except 1.5 puts all the mail into one local folder. In the current version each account gets its own inbox.

Thanks to this extension I can now use Yahoo and Hotmail email with Thunderbird without setting up (read as: pay for) POP3 access. This is a neat solution and provides a shim to make web based email accessible via more common interfaces such as POP3.

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