I am one of the IT managers of a higher education institution with a few thousand users, mainly using Thunderbird for at least ten years (and probably more). Experience has shown me that searching for messages was a small weakness of Thunderbird (which is, in spite of everything, the best email program ^^).
One of the problems with the search is that there are two ways to search: the standard search and the quick search. The standard search is complex for most users, and produces unintelligible results. It is never used, except by the geekiest 0.5%.
The quick search works well, it is quick and easy to use, and the explanation of its use is quite simple. But it has two shortcomings:
- Using the escape key makes the quick search box disappear. Even there is a button to make it reappear, users do not associate the button with the quick search, and they do not know how to make it reappear (the majority do not know the names of the interface elements). Most of the time, they are not even aware that the quick search disappeared when they accidentally hit the escape key. The use of the escape key to perform this action is an interface anomaly, it responds to a logic that is incomprehensible for this key. Most interface elements appear or disappear through a voluntary action in a display-related menu, not a keyboard shortcut (except perhaps for zoom).
- The quick search does not search into sub-folders.
I therefore suggest two "small" improvements about the quick search:
1- Disable the hiding of the quick search area with the escape key.
2- Add the search function into the sub-folders, with, on the interface side, a checkbox "in the sub-folders" next to the quick search.
Thanks for reading 🙂