Mozilla Thunderbird 78 Officially Released with Major Changes, Here’s What’s New

Thunderbird 78

The Mozilla Thunderbird 78 open-source email client is now available as a major update with several new features and improvements.

As you can imagine, Thunderbird 78 is a major release. It’s not only the version number that has been aligned with the latest Firefox 78 web browser, but Thunderbird 78 also inherits the minimum runtime requirements on Linux systems, which include GTK 3.14, Glibc 2.17, and libstdc++ 4.8.1.

The big new features of the Mozilla Thunderbird 78 release include a new Account Hub for centralized account setup, a new “Delete” action column in thread pane, the ability to use custom colors for the Folder Pane icons, as well as direct message (DM) support for Matrix.

The Calendar component now integrates the Lightning add-on, lets users preview events in the ICS import dialog and click location URLs, makes storage access asynchronous to improve performance, and removes support for the Web Calendar Access Protocol (WCAP). The Chat feature received Off-the-Record Messaging support and IRC echo-message capability.

Among other new features, there’s a new option to disable the OpenPGP functionality. Even if it’s disabled by default in this release, since it’s marked as WIP, OpenPGP support saw some important improvements in this new release of the Thunderbird email client as Mozilla made it possible for OpenPGP to work on more GNU/Linux distributions when using the official builds.

Thunderbird 78 also adds additional Enterprise policies, support for the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 operating system series, improvements to address book migration, which are now stored as SQLite databases, and vCard parsing, as well as a new configuration option to anonymize message date header.

Since this is a major release, there are various improvements to the user interface, especially to the location bar and tabs when displaying websites. The Options/Preferences tab and Account Creation dialog were revamped and now have new user interfaces too, and the Account Manager was moved to a tab.

Furthermore, Thunderbird now uses scalable icons throughout the entire interface for better HiDPI support, single-line input fields for multiple email addresses, and a Global Search menu item in the app menu.

The revamped UI lets users select messages via selection boxes and preview themes in the Add-On Manager, which was also revamped with a new user interface and support for notifications.

Under the hood, the MailExtension API received quite some attention, and Thunderbird now only supports MailExtensions for add-ons. Moreover, Thunderbird no longer supports restartless add-ons and non-restartless legacy add-ons that use XUL overlays. Also, graphics hardware acceleration is now enabled by default.

Security-wise, TLS 1.0 and TSL 1.1 support was disabled and Thunderbird now asks users for the OS account password before displaying saved passwords. Of course, there are also a lot of bug fixes and accessibility improvements included that make Thunderbird more stable, secure and reliable.

Meanwhile, you can download the Thunderbird 78 binaries (32-bit and 64-bit) and sources right now from the official website. You’ll also be able to install this new major release from the stable software repositories of your favorite GNU/Linux distribution in the coming days.

However, Mozilla noted the fact that it’s not yet possible to upgrade from Thunderbird 68 or earlier versions, and warned users of the Enigmail add-on to NOT update to Thunderbird 78 at this time.

Last updated 4 years ago

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