Zimbra Desktop

An alternative e-mail client.
E-mail on Zimbra Desktop

The initial sync of my Gmail account took about an hour from start to finish. I just left it alone while it downloaded my mail. I didn't have much mail in my ZCS account, so that sync was almost instantaneous.

Using Zimbra Desktop reminds me a lot of using Evolution or Thunderbird. You can drag and drop e-mail messages from one folder to another, right-click on single messages or groups of messages and perform various actions (such as forward, filter, tag, mark as read or unread and so on), and you can do many of the other things that you would expect. It was easy to forget that the entire interface is built using HTML and JavaScript.

The e-mail composer has all the features I expect from a modern client. You can compose in HTML or plain-text format, and in HTML mode, you have all of the usual control over fonts, lists, colors, text size and so on.

Figure 2. The Zimbra Desktop composer window offers all the features you would expect.

The e-mail viewing interface has the familiar three-pane view that most clients default to, and the HTML e-mail messages I used for testing rendered the same as in other clients.

Figure 3. Zimbra Desktop has no trouble rendering HTML e-mail messages.

On the whole, using Zimbra Desktop is quite plain. It feels like what I'm used to with standard “fat” desktop mail clients. The interface is easy to navigate around, and things are generally about where I expect them to be, and when I wanted more information, the integrated help system was very useful.

Figure 4. Help is just a click away.

One of the biggest differences between Zimbra Desktop and a standard client is that there aren't the normal File, Edit, View, Search (and so on) drop-down menus arranged into a nice menu bar. This is not a limitation as such, it's just different. In normal, everyday use, I didn't miss them.

One of my favorite features in Zimbra Desktop (which is also one of my favorite things about Gmail) is the extensive availability of keyboard shortcuts. In fact, many of the key combinations are similar, if not the same, so I quickly felt at home. This is something fat clients could learn from their browser-based cousins—easy keyboard shortcuts, such as pressing J to move down in the list of messages and K to move up, are great time-savers. The complete list of shortcuts is available under Preferences→Shortcuts.

Figure 5. Zimbra Desktop has a lot of shortcuts.


The calendaring component of Zimbra Desktop is very nice. It's much better, in my opinion, than Google Calendar, if not quite as good as some of the other desktop calendar apps I have used.

You can create appointments by a click and drag on the calendar, and you can move appointments by selecting them with the mouse and moving them where you want. You can create new calendars simply by clicking the New Calendar button.

Figure 6. Zimbra Desktop can subscribe to remote ical calendars.

The shared calendars and scheduling features work only with ZCS accounts, so keep that in mind if you are thinking of using Zimbra Desktop in a multi-user setting. If you are using Zimbra Desktop with an e-mail account other than ZCS, the calendar works like a standard desktop calendar. You also can subscribe to shared ical calendars.

Address Book

As far as the address book goes, it's an address book. If you're using ZCS, you likely will have access to a shared address book. There's nothing special here.



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Where do you get all these

Johanna's picture

Where do you get all these applications from? I have been looking for an alternative to Outlook. II got a new HP laptop and I need to make everything accessible on it.