Not too long ago I got an email from a reader of this weblog that he needed help setting up Thunderbird to read his emails. In the end, it turned out that he was given the wrong email account information by his ISP, so I didn't provide any real assistance. As it is, he was pretty impressed ("enamored" was the word he used) with Thunderbird - always nice to see a convert. Except for one problem: it can't access Hotmail accounts.

For that matter, Outlook Express and Outlook seem to be the only email clients that can access Microsoft's Hotmail via its web service. And as it turns out, I have a Hotmail account too and used to access it in Outlook Express. We both needed a solution, excepting logging on to the Hotmail website to check for emails. What is so troublesome in logging on to the website? For one thing, the Hotmail website doesn't really work in non-IE browsers. There is IE-only scripting involved in several portions, including the rich text editing and the adding of email recipients from a drop-down. And it bugs me terribly that the MSN Messenger application starts running whenever I log into the Hotmail website (it's true - when you close the IE window for Hotmail, MSN Messenger exits).

I did the smartest (or should I say "only") thing possible and Googled for a solution - it turned up this FAQ entry. Great news, then, since Hotmail Popper is a free application that really works just fine. One word of caution though: make absolutely sure you change your email account settings for the Hotmail account to "Leave messages on server" if you really want to do so before downloading any emails. If you're using Thunderbird, go to Tools -> Account Settings and select your Hotmail account. Under Server Settings, check the box that says "Leave messages on server" and the box that says "Until I delete or move them from Inbox", as shown in the screenshot below.

Thunderbird settings screenshot