Zemanta‘s semantic technology has been around in Firefox for a while now via their add-on, which is just one of the tools in their set. Amongst other things it provides you with image, link, and article suggestions based on your content as you write blog posts or compose (Web)emails. This weeks sees releases that support new clients Outlook 2007 and Thunderbird, giving users of desktop mail an opportunity to use the service.

Read about the new releases.

Here I will give a quick tutorial on how to get going in Thunderbird. Versions 2 and 3 are supported. This can be incredibly fun when composting emails to friends and family, or have practical use for writing fact-finding emails.


The install XPI is the same as the Firefox and Mobile, but if you want the Thunderbird listing URL, here it is:


HTML Compose

First you will have to turn HTML Compose on. In Account Settings, for each account you want to use it with, go to Composition & Addressing and check the ‘Compose messages in HTML format‘ box.

HTML Compose Setting
HTML Compose Setting

Send Options

Setting HTML Compose ensures you can write and see rich emails, and the next step is to ensure the recipient can also see it in it’s full glory. This means that you have to set them to receive HTML mails. The default I believe is for mixed text/html which is fine, and you will be warned if you have the wrong setting. But just to know, first go to the main Thunderbird Preferences/Options and select the Composition panel. At the bottom select the Send Options… button.

Composition Preferences
Composition Preferences

In Send Options, look for the Text Format dropdown. Choose any options except ‘Convert the message to plain text’.

Text Format
Text Format

Away We Go

That’s it. Now you can go ahead and compose a great email.

Zemanta Compose
Writing an email with Zemanta (click for full size)

The Zemanta ‘Content Recommendations‘ panel appears on the right side in the Compose window. This can be opened/closed via the format toolbar button. When you start writing your email, Zemanta when it has enough words will retrieve suggestions for you. Then you just need to click on the results to add/remove items from the email. It will keep checking back for changed content and refresh the recommendations.

Jazz-up your Thunderbird Mail with Zemanta
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5 thoughts on “Jazz-up your Thunderbird Mail with Zemanta

  • 25-Feb-2010 at 23:46

    Not to disparage this add-on, but what’s a use case for this? I can’t imagine anyone using this in a personal e-mail, so really the only users are people sending out mass e-mail announcements, who’ll think to themselves, “This will really help me add some pizzazz to my messages.”. Only then, having downloaded it, they’ll feel compelled to use it for every announcement, apropos or not.

  • 25-Feb-2010 at 23:59

    They can keep your e-mails!!! So long privacy. From the privacy policy:

    “You understand that Zemanta ltd. can retain a copy of the submited content. Copy will not be retained only in the case when Zemanta Browser Extension submits the content of e-mail message from the mail composer view. Zemanta can without exception retain a copy of the metadata and content enhancements submitted by you or that generated by the Zemanta service. By submitting content to or generating metadata, content and content enhancements through the Zemanta service, you grant Zemanta ltd. a non-exclusive perpetual, sublicensable, royalty-free license to that metadata. From a privacy standpoint, Zemanta ltd. use of this metadata and content enhancements is governed by the terms of the Zemanta ltd. and Zemanta Privacy Statements.”

  • 26-Feb-2010 at 12:06

    Hi Peter,

    Andraz from Zemanta here.

    Thank you for pointing it out! We need to update our privacy policy to include all forms of email. Basically we are throwing away all the text of the email messages as soon as we send the response back.

    Other parts of the data we are retaining are used for improvement of the service, analytics and similar. We’re not holding on to any information about messages themselves – we don’t keep their content. Also to note – when using Zemanta for email (no matter which type of deployment) the data travels exclusively via HTTPS to Zemanta’s servers.

    Nonetheless, Peter, your point in general holds, moving to cloud-based processing of our data, there are a lot more potential dangerous scenarios. At Zemanta we are trying hard to do the right thing.

    Andraz Tori, CTO and cofounder at Zemanta

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  • 1-Oct-2010 at 08:21

    By submitting content to or generating metadata, content and content enhancements through the Zemanta service, you grant Zemanta ltd


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