A stack of new features are winging their way to Thunderbird, the premiere open source desktop email client.

You can’t try them yet, but they will debut later this year as part of the Thunderbird 102 release. This update will be the next major release of the suite following last Augusts’s (rather sizeable) Thunderbird 91 release (minor releases have been issued since then).

In a Twitter thread — communication form du jour these days — the Thunderbird team showcase a bunch of features coming to Thunderbird 102. These include a new spaces toolbar, a brand new address book, and initial out-of-the-box support for Matrix, the decentralised chat protocol.

Thunderbird’s proposed ‘spaces toolbar’ could have the biggest impact in use, particularly for those who use a lot of what Thunderbird has to offer. The team say the new toolbar, pictured to the left in the screenshot below offers an “easy, convenient way to move between different activities in the application”.

screenshot of thunderbird spaces toolbar
Credit: Thunderbird

Naturally not everyone will want this additional toolbar on screen, so when dismissed the menu helpfully condenses into a handy tab-based button (inset in the screenshot above) for quick access.

An all-new address book features in Thunderbird 102. This touts a ton of design improvements that Thunderbird say make it easier to use and easier to interact with contacts, plus new features to “better understand who you communicate with”.

And it looks so good:

Credit: Thunderbird

Beyond this Thunderbird 102 intros link preview cards in the composer, similar to how social networks ‘fetch’ a link preview when you paste in a URL; and adding secondary accounts to Thunderbird will be just as fluid, fun, and user-friendly as adding the first using the improved setup wizard.

Credit: Thunderbird

Rounding out the release are some other goodies:

  • Native Import/Export feature
  • Matrix Support enable out-of-the-box
  • Chat tweaks
  • Message header redesign
  • UI/UX tweaks to OpenPGP
  • Maildir storage format support

All in all, pretty awesome upgrades, right?

Thunderbird 102 will be released sometime this year (tentatively scheduled for June 28thanks Danny). You can try these features ahead of time using the Thunderbird nightly builds (referred to as daily builds on the Thunderbird website) that are available for Windows, macOS, and Linux.

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