Featured Freeware: ThunderBrowse

Bring the power of your Web browser to your email preview pane with ThunderBrowse. Sorry, Outlook users: This one's for Thunderbird fans only.

ThunderBrowse remains one of the best plug-ins for Mozilla Thunderbird. It's a favorite of mine, but if you haven't tried it recently there are some excellent new features worth noting.

If you've never used it before, ThunderBrowse lets you open Web links in Thunderbird's preview pane. It's that simple, which is why it's such an useful tool to have. From social networking friend invites to quickly scanning that hometown article sent by Your Dear Ma, ThunderBrowse cuts out huge chunks of time from your work flow by speedily opening HTML pages in its own browser. The plug-in adds a simple URL bar to the e-mail preview pane, with Forward, Back, Refresh, and Go buttons, and a customizable hot key combo will open the browser in a separate window.

Newer features include tabbed browsing, making it possible to keep the source e-mail message open while looking at the link it included, viewing the source code, and in-page search support via CTRL-F. JavaScript support is now included, but it automatically deactivates when it detects e-mails loading and then reactivates for other Web sites. ThunderBrowse also supports loading Thunderbird extensions directly, a useful trick to have, and its own bookmarks. All in all, that's not too shabby for surfing the Web from your e-mail client.