Feature Comparison: Mozilla Thunderbird - Microsoft Outlook

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If you want to see the comparison of LibreOffice suite vs. MS Office, see here: Feature Comparison: LibreOffice - Microsoft Office.


This page compares the features of Mozilla Thunderbird 52 (download) and Microsoft Outlook 2016. LibreOffice does not have an Email/PIM module and therefore users looking for a suitable PIM software need to seek alternatives for an Email/PIM program. This comparison table has the objective to assist users in this search. Mozilla Thunderbird is a full-fledged Email/PIM-Software. Like LibreOffice, it is a cross-platform software and open source. There are also alternatives to Mozilla Thunderbird available, such as Evolution⁠Wikipedia logo v3.svg, Kontact⁠Wikipedia logo v3.svg and Nylas N1.

Please note that neither the LibreOffice developer team nor the Document Foundation gives any official recommendation for a PIM software replacement for LibreOffice.

This table separates major and minor feature differences and also includes notes on Thunderbird add-ons. The comparison highlights differences and therefore does not display any features which are present in both PIM programs.


The feature comparison table is work in progress and currently incomplete.
This table is a compilation by users and not an official document by the Document Foundation or by the Mozilla Foundation⁠Wikipedia logo v3.svg.
Please feel free to improve this page. Last update to this table was made at 9.05.2018

General Personal Information Managers: Mozilla Thunderbird vs. Microsoft Outlook

Major Feature Differences Thunderbird 52 MS Outlook 2016
Cross-platform availability Windows, macOS, Linux, BSD, Unix Windows and macOS (based on different code bases [1])
Supported versions of MS Windows Windows XP SP3, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, 10 Windows 7 SP1, 8, 8.1, 10
Open Source Yes, licensed under MPL⁠Wikipedia logo v3.svg No, proprietary and closed-source
Availability free of charge Yes [2], donations are accepted [3] No, proprietary software plus additional charges for language packs
Portable version that runs on USB flash disks (without installation) Yes [4] No
Sharing a profile between Windows and Linux Yes [5] No
Eco-system of add-ons/extensions Complex ecosystem of over 1,200 valuable add-ons [6] Many proprietary add-ins available [7]
Message store type/profile data Supports one large file (mbox⁠Wikipedia logo v3.svg) per mailbox and file per message (Maildir⁠Wikipedia logo v3.svg) [8] Supports only one large file (.pst⁠Wikipedia logo v3.svg and .ost) [9]
Localization 100 languages (59 fully localized [10] and 41 partially localized) 96 languages (52 main languages for purchase, 44 more languages (in total 60) from Language Interface Packs (LIPs) for free download) [11]
Changing language of the user interface on the fly Yes [12] Supported, but requires additional purchase of language packs / download of local LIPs
Officially available as native 64-bit application on OS Linux [13], macOS (moz#634233 - regarding 64-bit version on Windows) Windows
Bi-diectional text support (eg. right-to-left languages) Mediocre support under the hood, but mostly unexposed by default. Better but incomplete support using the BiDi Mail UI extension, including most advanced features Outlook lacks) All fundamental functionality supported out of the box for HTML mail, not for plain text. Lacks per-paragraph direction and charset auto-detection capabilities and charset error correction support
MAPI (MS Exchange server protocol) No, but supported via DavMail add-on or How to connect Thunderbird to MS Exchange Supported
Encrypt email/PIM database Partial, several methods (from weak to strong) described in Protecting the contents of the profile Supported (via password setting for .pst file)
Deployment method On Premises On Premises, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)/Online
Support for ActiveSync Via proprietary BirdieSync add-on Supported
Integrated Development Environment (IDE) Not supported Supported with Developer tab in Ribbon
Minor Feature Differences Thunderbird 52 MS Outlook 2016
Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP) Supported Not supported
Usenet News Reader Supported Not supported
User Interface XUL⁠Wikipedia logo v3.svg interface can be user customized via the use of themes (which can reposition and skin controls) [14]. OutlookAlike applies an Outlook (2010) like Look and Feel to Thunderbird. Ribbon UI; Classic UI available as third-party paid extension
Unicode paths support Thunderbird does not appear to support UNICODE paths on Windows [15] Supported [16]
User interface improved to enable use on touch screen devices on desktop operating systems No Slightly adjusted user interface for touch screen devices, but no redesign
Versions of PIM for mobile operating systems No Outlook App (for Windows Phone, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android) with reduced functionality [17]
Online/cloud version of PIM No Outlook web apps with reduced functionality. [18]

Email module: Mozilla Thunderbird vs. Microsoft Outlook

Major Feature Differences Thunderbird 52 MS Outlook 2016
Spell checker, AutoSpellcheck, Spelling as you type 130 languages supported [19] Limited, requires additional purchase of language packs
Send large attachments via web services Supported (Inbuilt support for Box, Hightail; support for other services available via WebDAV add-on Not supported
Unified/Global Inbox Supported for multiple POP accounts (see Global Inbox) Not supported
Unified folders Supported (see Unified folders) Not supported
Email Merge No, but supported via Mail Merge add-on Requires the same versions of Outlook and Word [20]
File size limit Using mbox internal storage: No limit for IMAP folders; 4 GB limit for a folder stored as POP3 or "local folders". Using (the new) maildir storage: Unlimited. ([21]) Default 50 GB which can be increased or decreased by making changes to the Windows registry (instead of limit imposed by storage available) [22]
UTF-8 Partial support (problem with line wraps with long lines of text that don't contain spaces, which essentially makes it unusable for certain languages (e.g. Chinese, Japanese, Korean) [23]).

support for various ‘Latin letters with double acute’ (eg. ő) representations: entity (ő), decimal (ő) and hexadecimal (ő) [24].

No support for ‘Latin letters with double acute’ representation: entity (ő Ő ű Ű) [25]
Delay sending email No, but supported via Send Later add-on Supported
Conversation view No, but supported via Thunderbird Conversations add-on Supported
Email tracking read (date and time) receipt collated in sent email Not supported Supported
Follow up attribute Not supported Supported with ability to set: sender flag {Call, Do not Forward, Follow up, For Your Information, Forward, No Response Necessary, Read, Reply, Reply to All, Review}; start, due and reminder dates/time; recipient flag
Native document preview (file types) Txt, pdf Txt, pdf, doc(x), xls(x), ppt(x), odt, ods
Email voting Not supported Supported with voting buttons {Approve;Reject}, {Yes;No}, {Yes;No;Maybe}
Minor Feature Differences Thunderbird 52 MS Outlook 2016
Bottom-posts replies Supported No, but via add-on
Edit received email messages and subjects Not supported by default, but workaround Supported [26]
Set permissions on IMAP mailboxes/folders No, but supported via IMAP ACL extension add-on. Not supported
Email category Not supported Supported

Calendar module: Mozilla Thunderbird vs. Microsoft Outlook

Major Feature Differences Thunderbird 52 MS Outlook 2016
CalDAV (Calendaring Extensions to WebDAV) Supported No, but via add-on
Connect Calendar to MS Exchange server No, but supported via Exchange EWS Provider add-on Supported
Show birthdays from address book in calendar No, but supported via ThunderBirthday add-on Supported
Connect to Google Calendar No, but supported via Provider for Google Calendar add-on Supported
Viewing more than one calendar next to each other Not supported Supported
Minor Feature Differences Thunderbird 52 MS Outlook 2016
Auto-detect date information in emails Supported Not supported

Contacts module: Mozilla Thunderbird vs. Microsoft Outlook

Major Feature Differences Thunderbird 52 MS Outlook 2016
Chat/IM/VoIP details Supported (Google Talk, AIM, Yahoo!, Skype, QQ, MSN, ICQ, Jabber, IRC) Partial support (Skype, IM address)
Automatically add contacts to address book (recipients of emails or replies) Supported No, but via add-on
CardDAV (vCard Extensions to WebDAV) No, but supported via CardBook add-on No, but via add-on
Categories No, but supported via CardBook add-on Supported
Notes Plain text in default AddressBook and CardBook add-on Supports complex formatting and pictures
Search Name or email when using default Address Book
name, email, telephone number, address, notes when using CardBook add-on
Name, email, telephone number, address, notes
Storing multiple phone numbers of the same type No, but supported via CardBook add-on Partial support (Business, Business 2, Home, Home 2; however, problems occur if contacts have multiple mobile phone numbers or more than 2 business/home phone numbers)
Support for editing LDAP address books Only support for reading LDAP address books (moz#86405) Supported
Attaching files to contacts Not supported Supported
Rich text editing in notes field Not supported Supported
Viewing options No, but better support with CardBook add-on Supported (People, Address Cards, By Category, Detailed Address Cards, Business Cards (with photos showing), Card, Phone, List)
Show posts from social networks in address book Not supported Supported (Facebook, LinkedIn, Xing)
Minor Feature Differences Thunderbird 52 MS Outlook 2016
Address (home, business, other) displayed in correct format for country No, but supported via CardBook add-on Supported with 'Check Address' dialog box
Telephone number verification Not supported Supported with 'Check Phone Number' dialog box

Tasks module: Mozilla Thunderbird vs. Microsoft Outlook

Major Feature Differences Thunderbird 52 MS Outlook 2016
Tasks Supported Supported
Minor Feature Differences Thunderbird 52 MS Outlook 2016

Chat module: Mozilla Thunderbird vs. Microsoft Outlook

Major Feature Differences Thunderbird 52 MS Outlook 2016
Chat networks (group limit) Facebook Chat (varies [27]), Google Talk⁠Wikipedia logo v3.svg (100 [28]), IRC⁠Wikipedia logo v3.svg (varies), Twitter⁠Wikipedia logo v3.svg (unknown), XMPP⁠Wikipedia logo v3.svg (user defined [29]), Yahoo (unknown) Freemium⁠Wikipedia logo v3.svg Skype for Business⁠Wikipedia logo v3.svg (Free 20; $2 per month per user 250) [30].
Minor Feature Differences Thunderbird 52 MS Outlook 2016

Important Thunderbird add-ons

Over 1,200 add-ons are available for Mozilla Thunderbird. Most can be found in the Add-ons for Thunderbird repository. Some selected add-ons:

Email module:

  • Mail Merge. Mass Mail and Personal Mail.
  • Signature Switch. Switch the signature on/off or choose a new one from your predefined set of signatures.
  • MailRedirect. Redirect / bounce email messages
  • QuickFolders (Tabbed Folders). Turn your favorites into tabs - open folders and subfolders, move mails without scrolling around or searching.
  • ImportExportTools. Adds some tools to import and export folders and messages.
  • Enigmail. OpenPGP message encryption and authentication.
  • Send Later. True “Send Later” functionality to schedule the time for sending an email.

Calendar module:

  • Lightning Calendar Tabs. Displays tabs which allows quick navigation between time periods in Lightning calendar.
  • Show Calendar Week. Shows the calendar week Thunderbird/Lightning calendar's month and multi-week view.
  • Reply Monitor. Keep track of your emails and replies.
  • More Snooze. This add allow to customize the snooze delay when snooze popup appears.
  • Purge Events Plus. Purge events from Sunbird and Lightning files and thereby cleanes the calendar.

Contacts module:

  • CardBook. A new Thunderbird address book based on the CardDAV and vCard standards.
  • gContactSync. Synchronizes contacts & groups between Thunderbird and Google Contacts. Imports Facebook friends, contacts you follow on Twitter, and more.
  • Contact Tabs. Enhances Thunderbird to give you quick access to all your contacts directly from Thunderbird's main window: Use the powerful search field to find your contacts and open them in a new tab for viewing and editing.
  • Telify. Converts telephone numbers into clickable links for use with CTI applications, SIP clients, Skype, Netmeeting, snom phones, the AGFEO TK-Suite Client and SerVonic IXI-PCS.
  • TBDialout. Place phone calls directly from Thunderbird's address book.

Tasks module:

LibreOffice extensions for the integration with Thunderbird:

  • EuroOffice Mail Archiver. Store and organize your e-mails in an OpenOffice Document. This version works only with Thunderbird mail folders, Imap folders are not supported.

See also