Forget Microsoft Outlook, now you can check all your e-mail accounts (Microsoft Exchange, Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo) in one place using Mozilla’s open-source Thunderbird e-mail client and the Webmail extension. Here’s how:

(This tutorial is applicable for Windows and Linux users)

First you need to download and install Thunderbird from here (6.4MB windows, 11MB Linux).

Setting Gmail in Thunderbird is a pretty straightforward and easy task. You only need to enter your Gmail e-mail address and password in the new account setting and Thunderbird will do the rest for you.

Setting Hotmail or Windows Live Mail requires the Webmail extension available from here.

You need to download the Webmail extension plus the optional Hotmail extension and save it on your hard disk. For Yahoo mail users, download the Yahoo extension instead.

After that you need to install both extensions into your Thunderbird program. Open Thunderbird select Tools > Add-ons > Extensions and click Install

Locate the .xpi files that you’ve downloaded previously (web-mail-1-3-1.xpi and hotmail-1-2-13.xpi) and click Open. This will install both extension to your Thunderbird program. You’ll be asked to restart Thunderbird.

Next you need to check whether the Webmail extension is successfully installed and running. Select Tools > Add-ons > Extensions click Webmail and select Options or Preferences.

You need to have at least the Pop and SMTP servers running. Just ignore the IMAP server status. The default port numbers are already good for Windows users but other OS’s (like Linux) block ports below 1024 so if you’re using Linux, change the port numbers to above 1024. For example:

Pop: 110 change to 1100

SMTP: 25 change to 2500

IMAP: 143 change to 1430

After that you’ll have to create a new account for Hotmal in Thunderbird. Choose File > New > Account. You’ll see the Account Wizard dialog box. Select Email account and click Next.

On the Identity page, enter your name and your full Hotmail e-mail address and click Next.

In the Server Information, select Pop and enter localhost in the Incoming Server dialog box.

On the User Names page, enter your full hotmail e-mail address in the Incoming User Name box.

Next fill in a meaningful Account Name at the Account Name page and click Next. At the Congratulations page untick Download messages now and click Finish.

Now we’re almost done and you’ll need to tweak a few more things to finish your Hotmail setup.

In your Thunderbird program, right click on Local Folders and select Properties.

You’ll see the Account Settings page. Select Outgoing Server (SMTP) and click Add. Enter a description and type localhost as the Server Name.

Now select your Hotmail / Windows Live Mail account name and fill in your e-mail address in the Reply-to Address. At Outgoing Server (SMTP) select the localhost option.

And now we’re done. Click on Get Mail and your e-mails would appear in your inbox shortly. Enter your password when required.

Don’t worry if you fail the first few times. That’s just Microsoft working their evil spell. Re-check your account settings again and keep on trying.