Outlook vs Thunderbird: Comparing Email Services

outlook vs thunderbirdBoth Microsoft Outlook and Mozilla Thunderbird provide decent applications for email. Looking at the differences between the two may help with the decision to use Outlook vs. Thunderbird. They both offer basic functions including retrieving mail from IMAP, an Exchange server or POP3. Both also offer spam filters, firewalls and other security features.

Microsoft Outlook has been known as the king of the email world for many years. However, a look at Outlook vs Thunderbird, there may be a new king taking over. Here’s our comparison of the two.


The appearance of Outlook gives users a polished choice with plenty of bells and whistles. The inbox remains clutter-free, but the interface does have a tendency to seem a bit bloated. Most users won’t need all of the features packed within the interface, but those becoming super Outlook users will appreciate the functionality.

Thunderbird, on the other hand, provides a bit of an uncomfortable appearance. It takes some getting used to as the messages show up in the inbox rather small. You can make them bigger, but it’s not very obvious how to change the font size. The interface also lacks the individuality of many other email applications.

When it comes to appearance, Microsoft Outlook is still the king. It’s the winner when comparing Outlook vs Thunderbird; at least for appearance.


Organization usually builds upon appearance and includes navigation, searching and filters. Thunderbird provides only the most basic searching options. However, the filtering options are far more useful in Thunderbird. You can filter messages with a starred status, by attachments, by tags and by contacts.

Outlook may be the best in the business when it comes to searching and filtering, however. The search functions are very easy to use and allow users to filter through messages efficiently. Rules can even be set up to help filter messages to specific folders as they come in. It’s very easy to categorize your inbox with Outlook.

Again, the winner for organization when it comes to Outlook vs Thunderbird is the king: Microsoft Outlook.


The storage limits of Outlook and Thunderbird depend on how you utilize the applications. It’s possible to connect both to an email account hosted on your own server, which means the storage limits have to do with your hosting instead of the actual mail application.

With Mozilla Thunderbird, the only limits on your storage capacity are those of your own hard drive. Storage isn’t dependent on a certain amount given when you download the application.

Outlook, depending on how you use it, doesn’t really limit your storage, either. If you use Outlook.com, you start with 5GB of storage, but it will increase slowly as you need more space. Those using Outlook as a downloadable application will only be limited by the amount of storage provided through a hosting account.

When it comes to storage, Outlook vs Thunderbird tie.


Both Outlook and Thunderbird offer firewalls, spam filters and other security features. While the security of these two mail applications may not be incredible, they can both be boosted with additional applications and security measures. It’s possible to add a virus scanner for email coming in for both applications.

Security is a tie between Outlook vs Thunderbird, as well.

Outlook vs. Thunderbird – The Verdict

Along with the four categories above, it’s important to know that Thunderbird supports LDAP email address auto-complete, but it doesn’t include the calendar applications like Outlook does. Some extensions can be installed to give Thunderbird more functionality, however.

Thunderbird is also an open source choice, which means it’s free to use. Outlook, on the other hand, comes with the Microsoft Office productivity suite, which isn’t free. If you’re looking for an enterprise email client, Outlook is the right choice between the two. However, if you prefer an open source option, Thunderbird may be a good choice.

Overall, Microsoft Outlook is still the king of the email clients. It provides a better interface, better organization and plenty of features. Compared to Thunderbird, Outlook gives users more power and better organization.

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