Many people don’t realise that there’s much better alternative than having to log in into the online Google, MSN, Yahoo! and other similar web-based email accounts everytime you want to check if there’s new emails in the Inbox, or write and reply emails, etc. Using email client software instead of having to log in to these web-based email accounts will save a lot of time, not to mention you’ll never miss another email again just because you forget to check your Inbox. This tutorial will guide you to install and configure an email client, so that you’ll never have to log in to web-based email accounts again.

This guide is intended for the regular bloke on the street, with no in-depth computer knowledge. So even if you’re wondering what the heck is an email client, just read on (and be patient, this guide is quite lengthy) and I’ll help to see you through.

What the heck is an email client??

I know many of my friends will be asking that 😀 . I can go on and on explaining about all the technicalities of an email client, but to keep it simple: it’s a software in your computer that checks your email for you every 10 minutes or so, notify you if there’s new mail, let you read it, delete it, reply it, download attachment, etc. etc. all without ever needing you to open even a single web browser.

Sounds great! So… how do I install it?

Not so fast, kiddo, didn’t I say this guide is gonna be quite lengthy? First you need to know what are the available email clients and how to get them. Fortunately, email client is quite common. If you have Microsoft Office installed in your computer, chances are your computer already have an email client called Outlook Express. If you’re using Windows Vista, you already have a built-in email client, called Windows Mail. Yeah, there’s a pretty good chance an email client is already there sitting idly in your computer, taking up space and (probably) memory without you ever taking advantage of it.

But for the purpose of this guide (and for better experience), I am not going to encourage you to use either both of those mentioned above. I don’t know how good they are cause I’ve never used them before. But I do know a very good, open-source (which probably mean almost nothing else but free to most of you) email client that I’ve been using myself since I can’t remember when.

It’s called Mozilla Thunderbird. Yes, it’s from the same people who brought the beloved Mozilla Firefox to all of us. First step: go get it.

Done downloading! What’s next?

To install it, double click on the file you’ve just downloaded. If you’re using Windows Vista and a security warning pops up, just click “Run”. Then, just follow the steps. Those guys at Mozilla have made the installation process as painless as possible.

(To make it really explicit, “follow the steps” means click Next, choose I accept the terms in the Licence Agreement, click Next, choose Standard, click Next, wait, make sure Launch Mozilla Thunderbird now is ticked, click Finish.)

What is this Import Wizard?

The first window that pops up afterwards is the Import Wizard. If this is the first time you’re gonna use an email client, just tick Don’t import anything. It’s probably the only option available for you anyways. Then click Next.

Ok…there’s this window pops up…what do I do?

If this is the first time you’ve installed Thunderbird, an Account Wizard will be opened up for you. This is how it looks like:

The Account Wizard

Now just click Cancel. Yes, click Cancel. And then click Exit, like so:

Click exit

Ok, now what?

Now you need to set up your email account to be used with Thunderbird. The tricky part here is that it is likely to be different for each different email providers that you use. That means you have to set up Gmail account differently than setting up an MSN account, for example. That’s why I asked you to click Cancel just now, because it’ll be tedious for me to write a guide for each of the email providers.

Fortunately, these email providers already have their own guide on how to set up the email accounts to be used with Thunderbird. Just follow the link for your email provider below, leave this website, go follow their instructions, and when you’re done, come back here. A note of advice though: be patient and follow the guide one step at a time. They’re critical to being able to use your email accounts properly with Thunderbird.

A note about using Yahoo! Mail with Thunderbird. Right now I know that Yahoo! UK mail accounts (emails ending with @yahoo.co.uk) can be used with an email client (I know cause mine is). Last time I checked, the other Yahoo! mail accounts (ending with @yahoo.com or anything else) doesn’t allow for POP access, meaning you probably can’t use them with Thunderbird or any other email client without significantly more complicated steps. My advice: go open up a free Gmail account. It takes only minutes and (in my opinion) is better than Yahoo! mail.

Right! I’ve successfully set up my account!

I’d say there’s a pretty good chance that you won’t be able to complete the last step successfully. Maybe because you don’t understand one of the steps, or there’s other unforeseen problems. If this is so, now is a good time to head down to the comment section below and write a new comment detailing the problem, and I’ll try to help you.

But if you really did successfully set up your account, good for you! Now we can proceed with the next step.

So, what’s the next step?

Now before you started using your newly installed email client, there’s some more configuration that needs to be done to make sure you really get the best out of the email client.

Now click Tools > Account Settings. And then click on Server Settings under the email account you just set up just now.

Access the Account Settings window

Now it’s a good idea to make sure you tick the settings under the “Server Settings” section like below:

Adjusting the Server Settings

Then click OK.

Ok, done that. Are we done?

Yep, we’re done! Though there’s a lot more things that you can learn about how to use Mozilla Thunderbird so that you can fully utilise all of its functions, including composing and sending email, import and keep Address Book, use automatic signature, use message filters, change the look and add functionality using Add-ons, etc. etc. But you gotta start somewhere, and hopefully this guide has done that.

If you’re stuck somewhere, just drop a comment below asking about it and I’ll try to help you. It will help improve this guide as well, so hopefully the next person trying it will have better chance at succeeding without a hitch. So good luck!