One feature that is missing in all versions of the Mozilla Thunderbird desktop email client is the ability to take notes, a feature that has been available in Microsoft Outlook for a long time.
Note taking comes in handy in several situations, but mostly for adding information to received or sent email messages.
This can be information that have been copied and pasted from somewhere else, contact information, tasks and basically anything else that is relevant but not part of the original email message.
Update: Please check out the updates at the end of the article. The original add-on is no longer available. We list an alternative note taking add-on for Thunderbird at the end of the review.
The Thunderbird add-on tbNotes adds note taking options to the email software. It's current version is limited to Thunderbird 3 editions which are currently only available as beta versions (the official download version is still Thunderbird 2.x at the time of writing).
The add-on adds capabilities to add, edit and remove notes in Thunderbird. The functionality becomes available after right-clicking an email message in Thunderbird. This opens the context menu with options to write, edit or remove notes.
It would be very confusing if there would not be an indicator if a note is attached to an email. Users of the note taking add-on can add a new column to the email table layout in Thunderbird that indicates if notes are available.
This column is not displayed by default, and needs to be added to the layout by clicking on the rightmost icon on the header listing.
It is furthermore possible to display all notes on a separate page in the email client. Filters are available on the page to reduce the number of notes that are shown there. The page can be accessed with a click on Tools > Notes.
The developer has lots of plans to extend the functionality of the add-on. Planned are a sidebar with note categories, or a special folder containing all the notes, adding notes to Thunderbird search and Lighting support so that notes can get automatically synced with the calendar add-on.
The tbNotes add-on can be downloaded from the Mozilla Thunderbird website. Keep in mind that it only works with Thunderbird 3.x clients.
Update: tbNotes has been discontinued. XNote is an excellent alternative that adds note taking again to the email client.
Update 2: XNote has been discontinued as well. An Alternative note taking extension for Thunderbird is QuickNote. Another extension that you may want to try out is Message Notes Plus. It enables you to attach notes to email messages which is different from QuickNote's behavior which only allows to add notes to Thunderbird (and not associate them with emails).
Both add-ons should work fine in recent versions of Thunderbird despite the fact that they have not been updated for a while.
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