Many of those who have been using the Web for a few years will have ditched their desktop-based POP3 account in favor of a free Webmail service, such as Hotmail, Gmail or Yahoo.

But the widespread availability of free Webmail accounts poses a problem. Gmail's larger storage limit tempted me to stray from Hotmail a few years back, which means I have to regularly check my old account for any messages from acquaintances who haven't updated their contacts lists. This is a time-consuming, irritating process, yet necessary to avoid missing potentially important mail.

There is an easier way to manage multiple e-mail addresses, however. Thunderbird and Zimbra are not only free but able to access and collate mail from other clients. In the following workshop, we'll demonstrate how to set up Thunderbird to monitor all your mail.

First. download Thunderbird. Next, launch the program and import your account settings, address book, mail folder, and other data from your existing mail client. Now, let's configure Thunderbird to help you out.

Step 1
You'll need to tell Thunderbird which accounts it should check for mail. Click Local Folder, 'Create a new account' and then choose which type of account you'd like to set up. In this instance you should choose e-mail, then enter the name of the account--for example, John Smith--and its e-mail address. Click Next.

Step 2
Specify whether the e-mail account uses a POP or Imap server, and enter the address of the incoming server. The outgoing server will be automatically assigned. Enter the incoming user name (the section directly in front of the '@' symbol in your e-mail address) and assign a name to the account. Click Next, Finish.

Step 3
The new account will be displayed in the side panel. To send and receive mail from this account, select its inbox, enter your password and click 'Get Mail'. Repeat steps two to four to add new accounts for any other e-mail addresses that you may have created in the past and still need to monitor.

Step 4
Thunderbird can be set up to automatically perform an action upon receiving certain types of mail. Click your e-mail account, then select 'Manage Message Filters', New. Specify which rules the e-mail must adhere to and instruct Thunderbird on what it should do next. Click ok. Ensure that the enable box is ticked in the filter log.

Step 5
To set up a contacts list, click Address Book and select New List. Choose the location where you want the list to be stored and give it a name and description. Type in the first few letters of e-mail addresses from your existing contacts list and Thunderbird will automatically fill in the blanks. Click OK to finish.

This story originally appeared on PCWorld