1. 55

For the past decade I have used Thunderbird as my email client of choice, but it appears that this time has come to an end. They have unceremoniously broken the only addon I use. In addition, I have discovered that > characters do not count as “quotations” and will be indented by one space in the actual sent text. This breaks manually edited quotations and makes it look like the entire body of the email is one quote, even if there are inline responses. Unfortunately, this decline in quality seems like the new modus operandi at Mozilla (especially judging by the recent changes they’ve made to Firefox).

Thus, I am in the market for a new email client. So far I have looked at Evolution, which seems like it can do 90% of what Thunderbird does, and also seems to have a much nicer philosophy wrt user customization. The only problems I encountered were that it hangs on startup unless the main thread is stopped in gdb and resumed (wtf?), and that it lacks a “simple HTML” mode for viewing HTML emails without colors and whatnot. I also looked at sup with offlineimap, but I’m not very impressed by the setup. The lack of integration between the fetcher and the viewer makes for poor UX because of the difficulty of configuration and lack of flexibility. sup also crashes on startup (ugh).

What email client do you use? Does it have the option to integrate an external editor like vim? What is the threaded interface like? How does it display HTML emails? What is the filtering system like?

    1. 39

      Personally, fastmail - web client.

      1. 9

        +1 - Fastmail’s web client is several orders of magnitude less annoying than Gmail for me, and unlike GOOG where you ARE the product, Fastmail is straight up selling me a service and hosting my email in exchange for $$$. Very simple and compelling value prop there. How novel :)

        I switched after GMail went through a redesign a number of years back that made it all but unusable for people with any kind of vision issue at all. I’ve heard from multiple sources that the internal Google group for older folks absolutely had a fit but were summarily ignored. It was so low contrast and hard to read that I was actually ending up with severe eyestrain headaches at the end of the day on the regular.

      2. 2

        How do you find Fastmail? Their service looks like it provides almost everything I want (in an ideal world, everything would be encrypted server side and search run from a CVM so that they couldn’t access my email even in the event of a compromise, but that’s not something that’s offered by any provider), but they seem very expensive. They seem okay if you’re a single person and probably fine if you’re a company, but they’re missing any kind of family plan, which is what I’d need to stop hosting my own email.

        Office Microsoft 365 has a family plan that costs about as much as two of the 30 GB Fastmail plans and comes with 50 GB of email storage for each of up to 6 users, along with all MS Office and 1 TB of OneDrive, which makes Fastmail seem incredibly costly in comparison (even with the ability to add $30/year users to your $50/year subscription with the domain, 2 GB of email space is nothing these days and $30/year for 2 GiBi is insane: 2 GiB of geographically redundant cloud storage with a decent SLA is <$1/year).

        1. 3

          I have been using it for years. I am paying directly for my email, so I am the customer rather than the product. This is also all they do.

          I have an office subscription too.

          My needs are pretty basic.

        2. 2

          Respectfully you can’t compare the economies of scale in a company like Fastmail to a behemoth like Microsoft. While I can appreciate the value prop you describe, and I’m told Outlook365 is actually a formidable mail environment, I personally am happy to support a small company that does one thing and does it VERY well. That’s why I put my money on Fastmail.

          1. 2

            Respectfully you can’t compare the economies of scale in a company like Fastmail to a behemoth like Microsoft

            I agree in general, but I’m comparing the mail hosting parts of the two offerings, the MS bit also includes a load more things that are more expensive to develop (the office suite). It looks as if Fastmail builds their own physical infrastructure, so I’d expect that they have pretty solid economies of scale. If not, then they could outsource their storage to a cloud provider and benefit from the provider’s economies of scale.

            I personally am happy to support a small company that does one thing and does it VERY well

            To be honest, if it were just me, I’d be very tempted to move, but for a family it’s a lot more expensive than self hosting. Once you’re up to four users, you’re on $200/year and there are quite a few providers that will offer a VM that can handle far more than four users for that much. I presume that if you’re building racks of infrastructure for serving thousands of customers, it’s cheaper. That means that the majority of the costs of Fastmail are some combination of:

            • Administrative overheads (should be low - managing email infrastructure is eyvery low overhead per person at scale, my old university computer society manages email for a few hundred people with a handful of admin folks giving up an hour or so of volunteer time periodically)
            • Cost of first-party software development (particularly the client, which I’ve heard is very polished - I believe a lot of their server software is open source things like Cygnus that they contribute to).
            • Profit.

            I don’t know how it’s split between these three. The interesting thing is that the first of these is really the only cost that doesn’t benefit (much) from economies of scale. If they doubled the number of users, the cost of software development would be roughly the same, but would be amortised over twice as many customers. I would have thought that about $20/year would be the sweet spot for the 30 GB plan to maximise profit and I’m really curious how their economists picked the price points they have. They’ve been around for over 20 years, so I can’t imagine it’s because they are limited in the speed at which they can manage growth.

        3. 1

          2 GiBi is insane: 2 GiB of geographically redundant cloud storage with a decent SLA is <$1/year).

          Doesn’t that heavily depend on your traffic volume and structure, i.e. number of requests?

          1. 1

            Yes, though full downloads of a mail spool are pretty rare. Looking at Azure’s pricing, there’s no per-GB transfer cost, and the cost of read / write operations is a few cents per 10,000 operations ($0.13 for writes, $0.005 for reads). Assuming that your full-text search isn’t implemented using grep, I’d expect the cost there to be well under another dollar. You probably won’t hit 10,000 writes/year (probably 2-3 for every incoming mail: write the message, update the index, update metadata, plus another one [though these could be batched] when you mark something as read or add tags / move it to a folder, even at 10 per email, 1,000 emails per year is maybe slightly low for a low-volume user, assuming no batching of updates) for a 2 GiB mail spool and you need a lot of reads at half a cent per 10,000 for that cost to matter. If you use the native blob indexing facility for tags / folders with JMAP then that probably adds a bit more cost, but I’d imagine that they’d use something custom for that. Possibly if you have a lot of clients all downloading all messages you’ll hit a lot of reads, but I’d expect the cost of reads to be in the noise.

        4. 1

          Is there a way to bring your own domain to MS 365? That was what stopped me last time I looked for my family stuff.

          1. 1

            I’ve not tried but there is some documentation that suggests it’s possible.

          2. 1

            Sure, you just need to opt for a business plan or whatever it’s call. I don’t think you can do it with the lowest tier of family plan but I’ve used my own domain (utf9k.net) with Office 365/Outlook in the past.

            Err, I assume you mean sending email from O365 and using it as your login address rather than say; transferring your actual domain registration. I assume the latter isn’t possible but I would be surprised

            1. 1

              Yeah, I meant using O365 to send/receive mail for my own domain. Last time I looked, I couldn’t figure out how to make it work on a family plan, and the price bump for the lowest enterprise plan where it’d work was more than I was willing to do.

              Thankfully, I’m grandfathered into the old free G Suite plan, so we just use that for email and use O365 for other things.

              1. 1

                Officially, you can only host your own domain if you use GoDaddy as a registrar, but there is a way to get around that limitation.

                However, I would suggest that you don’t host your primary email address with Microsoft as part of the Office 365 subscription. The main reason is that if anything happens to the subscription you will most likely lose access to the premium benefits, which means that you won’t be receiving any emails from Microsoft as well.

        5. 1

          Ah, but you can’t host your own domains on O365 unless your registrar is … GoDaddy, which, no.

        6. 1

          I use Fastmail for my personal email+calendar+etc and work uses Office 365, so I’ve used both web clients.

          FWIW I like the web client for Fastmail more than the Outlook Web one. Fastmail is a bit more “power user friendly”, i.e. setting up new email filters and things like that are easier to both get to and configure. Despite not being more complex for beginner users either, I find. Fastmail UI is also faster in my experience. Outlook Web does some fancy AI sentence completion features and stuff, but I don’t really want this - so not having it is probably a plus in my book.

          With my amateur marketing hat on, I think the 2GB Basic plan is mostly there to make the 30GB Standard Plan look better value. And for those folks who actually don’t need much at all by way of email.

      3. 1

        Same, but mostly by lack of a better alternative on Windows.

        1. 2

          It remains shocking to me that there Windows doesn’t have a CalDAV/CardDAV client by default.

    2. 38

      Well, since I’ve not seen anyone here post it yet, I’ll say it:

      I use the Gmail web application for all my email sending and receiving, both for work and for my personal email, and I really like it.

      I used to self-host email but through a mixture of inexperience configuring things and my domain getting flagged on spam lists due to me running an open link shortener on it, too many of my emails went to spam and I gave up and pay Google to host my email now.

      Anyway, I’m very happy with it. It runs very well, is accessible from any device with no installation, and has some really nice features that aren’t really available anywhere else. Their predictive text feature while composing emails is something I’ve come to really like. Their spam filtering is as perfect as I can imagine it getting. The auto-sorting feature for Primary, Promotions, and Updates is really nice; it works quite well too considering how much variety there is in email. The site is very performant as well (although I do have high end hardware) and I never wait for things to sync or load.

      When I self-hosted e-mail I used an open source web-based mail client called Roundcube (which really is incomparable to Gmail in terms of features and ease-of-use, but certainly did the job). I also used Thunderbird for a while. However I found that for me, there really is no advantage whatsoever over just using a web app, even Roundcube.

      I totally understand that not everyone can use (or wants to use) Gmail for their email, and I’m not even trying to promote it. Maybe the story is different for people that make heavy use of things like git-by-email, are in huge mailing lists for discussion and questions, or stuff like that. However, I really do believe that an e-mail client is one of the use-cases where a web application can really show its advantages.

      1. 3

        Me too. The web client on desktop/laptop, and gmail app on mobile. It’s really great.

        I have my own domain name. I don’t get Google to host it – I have my own mail server for receiving, but for the last 10 or 15 years it simply immediately forwards everything to my gmail account. When I send mail from gmail it sends as my personal domain.

        If gmail ever becomes intolerable for some reason I can instantly change the forwarding to go somewhere else – or even (save me!) run my own full featured email server again.

      2. 2

        I can’t find any alternative that has anything comparable and as customizable as Gmail’s priority inbox. Spark comes close with their smart inbox categories but it isn’t customizable.

        I have my unread messages on top, then my drafts, then the rest of my mail.

      3. 1

        I use the Gmail web application for all my email sending and receiving, both for work and for my personal email, and I really like it.

        Same. Email isn’t something I need or actually even want duplicated on any of my devices. The value is in its always-available ubiquity and search-ability, invariant of any forethought or planning on my part. A web app is the best kind of app for this.

    3. 21

      Notmuch in emacs, along with org-msg to produce HTML emails from org markup, complete with all the usual org stuff – tables, syntax highlighting, example/quote blocks.

      I’ve used it since November 2017 and by now have a fairly extensive tag file that auto-tags almost all of my incoming email. It tags stuff like track&trace emails from shipping providers, mail related to the apartment building board, tags job-related mail by customer etc.

      I currently have almost 123k emails in notmuch, and full-text searching is still incredibly fast:

      $ time notmuch count -- '"hello there rune"'
      0.00user 0.02system 0:00.06elapsed 42%CPU (0avgtext+0avgdata 7256maxresident)k
      12490inputs+0outputs (0major+590minor)pagefaults 0swaps

      It takes a bit of scripting to get everything working, but I feel that is a small price to pay for the flexibility I get.

    4. 18


      I am using (neo)vim as daily driver and also try to minimize the need for a mouse by using qutebrowser or vimium in chromium, I really like the handling of aerc compared to any GUI mail client.

      To write mails it just opens EDITOR.

      The switch to aerc wasn’t that long ago, so I am still figuring stuff out and tweaking my config. I really like being able to render HTML mails with w3m, but the concept behind that mechanism doesn’t stop at HTML: You can map commands to view/open content or attachments per media type (MIME). Or if you have no direct mapping you can pipe attachments to any command.

      Next thing I want to figure out is how to integrate gpg smoothly. I don’t know if there already is direct support for it, but even if not, there might be ways. And if it’s not possible yet, this is a great way to start contributing to it. (It’s written in Go)

    5. 16

      I use what the Romans do, mostly (I have an Exchange mailbox, so that does make things more difficult.):

      • On Windows, I use Outlook.
        • Filtering is fairly powerful, and can be punted to the Exchange server when possible
        • Threading is flattened AFAIK, at least by default. That is, a thread is grouped into one clump, and you can expand to pick messages in the thread.
      • On Mac, I use Mail.app.
        • I don’t use filtering here, no idea.
        • Threading is messages are grouped together by default, right pane shows them linearly, can be expanded in mailbox view.
      • On Linux, I use Evolution.
        • I don’t use filtering here.
        • Threading is nested, up to a certain point where it becomes flattened because the diagonal line going too far would be too much.

      Fair warning: I generally use HTML email, top post, etc, because it’s what people in the real world (i.e. my clients) do, not what people who talk about email do.

      I haven’t heard of a simple HTML view or use external editors, so I can’t speak for that. The crashing you’re having with mail clients is really unusual though.

      In general I’m mostly satisfied with all of them, but Evolution does have infuriating bugs with synchronization message state with IMAP (i.e move a lot of messages at once to a folder, watch random messages in your current mailbox have random read/unread for a second until it updates).

      1. 3

        Fair warning: I generally use HTML email, top post, etc, because it’s what people in the real world (i.e. my clients) do, not what people who talk about email do.

        As far as I know there aren’t really any downside to using plain text when mailing with people who use HTML, right? Or are there email clients who render this in a weird way?

        1. 7

          Replying to an HTML thread in plain text can make the quoting render very poorly. I’m not sure whether this is down to the MUA doing the quoting or to the ones rendering the reply, but it gets pretty hard to read. If I’m replying to a large group on a thread that’s seen more than one HTML message, I prefer to do so in HTML.

        2. 2

          Some plain text renderers default to proportional fonts and mangle line endings and extra blank lines. (Notably, Gmail.) If you want your recipient to see the email the same way you intended, you should take this into consideration.

          1. 1

            I write emails in proportional font anyway, so that’s not really an issue.

            I dusted off my gmail account, and it seems alright from a quick test, at least in gmail (CC @hoistbypetard)

            I don’t really mind HTML email as such and I’m hardly some sort of plain-text purist (I just use the FastMail web UI); I mostly just dislike all the silly font stuff people do with it: weird fonts, weird colours (does Outlook still do that stupid blue text thing?), etc. so I prefer to read emails in the plain text version.

            Although it seems I can set writing to “rich” and reading to “plain text”, and this will put the HTML in the quoted version – so that might be a happy in-between.

        3. 1

          I saw a HN comment suggesting plain text was negatively effecting their deliverability. This was anecdotal of course, but could be something to it. The proposed reasoning, was maybe more spam is sent as plain text. Whole bunch of maybes, but it could be some truth in there.

          1. 3

            Anecdotally, almost all of the spam I see is either:

            • HTML mail
            • A short ‘Hi {person}, {URL}’ plain-text thing

            It’s possible that if you’re sending emails that look like:

            Hi ryanford,

            Did you see this post? https://lobste.rs/s/0c0tvx/what_email_client_do_you_use#c_2awrcf

            They’d match a pattern of spam. It’s also worth noting that spam filters tend to be tuned per person and if you’re someone how only corresponds with people who use HTML mail then your filters will probably learn that all legitimate mail comes with an HTML MIME type section.

      2. 2

        Fair warning: I generally use HTML email, top post, etc, because it’s what people in the real world (i.e. my clients) do, not what people who talk about email do.

        I need to correspond with a mix of those “people in the real world” and people who talk about email.

        When I’m interacting with people who top post and use HTML email, I either use webmail or fire up a Win 10 VM and use Outlook.

        When I’m interacting with people who react angrily to top posting and HTML email, I use mutt. I’ve been experimenting with aerc and like it quite a bit when it’s stable. Especially for reviewing patchsets that come in over email. For reading most email, these are my preferred clients, and both can just use a maildir so it’s easy to switch back and forth on a whim.

        1. 2

          All the clients I use (even Outlook) can be switched to plain text; Evolution has the best implementation because it auto-reflows to wrap and tries to map HTML formatting options to plain-textified ones. Every project I work with has a forge, so it’s trivial for me to just use plain text only for lists. (I’ve received Python scripts in Excel files more than I have diff format, so…. You haven’t lived until you had to switch the Excel worksheet to view a .bash_profile.)

          1. 1

            I like switching MUAs better than flipping the setting back to HTML when I need it in a reply. Mostly because I have found that if you keep your default format as plain text, then switch to HTML just when you need it in a reply, quoting gets messed up.

            So the dance becomes: read a message where I want to reply with HTML -> go to settings and change how I compose email -> go back to the message and hit reply.

            I’ve observed that in Outlook and Thunderbird. Evolution’s S/MIME bugs prevented me from using it for so long that I got out of the habit of even trying it.

            But this:

            You haven’t lived until you had to switch the Excel worksheet to view a .bash_profile.)

            Damn. That is special.

            1. 4

              Apple Mail has a reply in kind setting where it chooses plain/HTML based on what the other person sent you. I feel like other email clients should have something similar? It seems like an obvious feature.

              1. 1

                Does it suppress HTML if the other person didn’t send you that?

                When you’re composing a new message, not replying, the iPhone/iPad version (at least) does not let you prevent it from sending HTML. So as far as I have found, there is not a way to say “always send plaintext only when I write email to this mailing list”. If it could do that, the reply in kind setting would probably make it work well for me all the time.

                1. 2

                  NSTextView has different modes for plain and rich-text editing. When rich text editing is not used, you can’t paste styled text into it and none of the style-related menu options work. Mail.app uses this directly[1] and so when you’re in plain-text mode, you’re in plain-text mode. As I recall, the same shortcut as TextExit can be used for switching the two modes.

                  Outlook, in contrast, uses the RichText control for editing and then strips the rich text. This is really annoying in some cases, most notably in a Teams Meeting invitation. If you send a Teams Meeting invitation as plain text, all of the links stop working. This is fine if the recipient is on Exchange because it also sets some metadata that Teams can use and so you can still connect, but if you send it to an external person they get something that says ‘click here to join’ and isn’t a link. There’s no warning in the UI about this. I filed a bug about this a couple of years ago.

                  [1] I believe newer versions may use a slightly tweaked / subclassed version, because they do draw coloured lines down the side for sequences of quoted text, but that’s all.

                2. 1

                  Yes. It replies fully plain text to email received plain text.

                  I set it to plain text by default, and reply in kind to HTML.

    6. 16

      For me it’s mu4e in Emacs. The speed of mailutils, convenient keybindings and sane composition defaults you don’t have to fight to submit patches.

      1. 3

        Another vote here for mu4e. It helps me focus on getting through my inbox to have it outside of my browser and be able to use even more keyboard shortcuts than the gmail interface.

      2. 3

        I also use mu4e. I haven’t found another email client that offers the same speed of execution and of user input. It connects with my password manager with a single line of configuration: (auth-source-pass-enable) which is builtin to Emacs. I also have the ability to define custom bookmarks to, with a single keystroke, show me all my inboxes, just my flagged emails, etc.

        The big feature for me though is contexts. For each email account I have, I define a :match-func function. I actually used a macro to create the functions to match on the account’s given Maildir. A large part of the mu4e workflow is marking messages to delete/flag/move/etc and then executing those marks (similar to dired). When I realized the contexts automatically reassign for each message you mark in “real time”, I was pleasantly surprised. This means, for example, if I there are a bunch of emails in a row from potentially different accounts, I can just spam the d key to mark them for deletion, then x to actually delete, and they will all go to their respective trash folders, not just the trash folder of the context you selected when you launched mu4e.

      3. 2

        Yet another vote for mu4e. Been using it for a few years and it’s great. A bonus is that it integrates especially well with orgmode; e.g. it’s trivial to link to emails from within orgmode TODOs, which is exceptionally helpful when a lot of TODOs come in via email :)

      4. 1

        I used to use mu4e, but I could never get the moving parts of mu, mbsync and Office365 to play nice together

        1. 1

          Same! Would love to hear from anyone with an Emacs-Office365 workflow they’re happy with to be honest.

          1. 1

            I’m using Gnus/nnimap now, which works reliably, if sometimes a wee bit slow due to O365 throttling

        2. 1

          I use it primarily with office365/exchange via offlineimap.

    7. 13

      What email client do you use?

      I use the combination of:

      • mbsync (for syncing with any mail provider using IMAP)
      • notmuch (for indexing email)
      • alot (for listing & filtering & searching & writing & etc email)
      • msmtp (for sending email)

      Does it have the option to integrate an external editor like vim?

      alot easily integrates with vim, as well as any other external editor.

      What is the threaded interface like?

      I think it’s as good as any TUI email client can offer. I have no complaints and I’m also happy with the keyboard shortcuts. Some screenshots here

      How does it display HTML emails?

      By default, you get raw HTML content. But you always have the option to pipe any email content to any external command. It’s possible to write a small script to pipe the content to a browser. (That’s what I did)

      An alternative would be to switch alot with astroid for smoother HTML email support. Astroid is a fine client as well.

      What is the filtering system like?

      Notmuch allows you to tag emails arbitrarily and has a pretty advanced filtering & searching system. I’m happy so far (it’s been a long time). Please check out its documentation for more info. Some people also use afew for easier tag handling with notmuch.

      I have also tried aerc and think it’s a fine client as well, though a bit newer, with some rough edges. But it’s a single tool and admittedly much easier & quicker to setup & use! I definitely recommend command line lovers to check it out as well.

    8. 11

      I used mutt/neomutt for years, then aerc for about a year before giving up on it.

      I now use bower, which is the best notmuch frontend I’ve used so far (for someone who doesn’t emacs). Vim integration is easy, and it can render HTML mails with an external app (e.g. w3m), and the gnupg integration is very good.

      1. 5

        Wow, an actual useful program written in Mercury. That’s very interesting!

        1. 2

          Prince is probably the best known program written in Mercury.

      2. 4

        then aerc for about a year before giving up on it.

        What made you give up on it?

        1. 1

          More or less in order of importance for me:

          • Performance is pretty bad. I’d find that often aerc was using ~10% CPU utilization when idle and on a non-active sway workspace. On my x230 laptop @ 1440p (external display), scrolling text email bodies was REALLY slow (like 1-3s to move down a line). After spending some time profiling it I learned that it’s because it has an embedded terminal that uses CGO (which is very inefficient… a lot of CPU cycles were spent moving data between C and Go…) The way the UI is drawn seems horrifyingly complicated.

          • I couldn’t get gpg stuff to work at all with the notmuch backend. It was somewhat ironic that I couldn’t read mails in aerc that sr.ht encrypted for me :P… Also, having to provide aerc a copy of your private keys outside of ~/.gnupg is suuuper sketch.

          • Still fairly buggy. Sometimes if you scroll too fast in a large maildir then nothing loads, or it would crash without no obvious way to reproduce the crash to debug. It has come a long way since its first few months though.

    9. 10

      I use mailmate for osx. not what i’d call a beautiful app but it’s lightning fast for search and sort over many accounts which is important to me.

    10. 9

      macOS: Mail.app – it seems to handle everything reasonably well, albeit a lot of things are weird to me (inline pictures and all that, I’m always unsure how things will look at the receiver’s end). Filtering works well enough to handle about a dozen moderate-traffic mailing lists, and a daily volume of maybe 30-40 mails outside that. It’s good enough and it comes with my computer so I got one less thing to worry about. I have friends who complain it crashes and corrupts their stuff every once in a while but it hasn’t happened to me yet.

      Linux: neomutt, imapfilter, msmtp. It’s not good, but the alternatives are way worse. I tried to use Evolution for about two years once I realized Akonadi was just never going to work and left KMail behind. But after even Debian stable switched to the GTK3 version, the only way I could use it was with a neverending array of CSS hacks to make the damn thing fit on a laptop’s screen, and after a while I just couldn’t justify the time invested in that. The only logical explanation for this state of affairs is that GTK devs don’t actually read mail, they just like to look at the beautifully-designed widgets – and, specifically, at the empty space in said widgets – since there’s hardly any room left on the screen once those are drawn…

      Windows: Thunderbird – the installation predates WSL2 on my one Windows 10 machine, and I don’t really need to do too much heavy email lifting there, so I’m fine with whatever works. Thunderbird was the first one I tried, it can open my mailbox and I can reply to emails. Good enough :-D.

      1. 4

        I also use Apple Mail. However for whatever reason filter rules don’t work at all for me. I think it’s probably something to do with gmail. All the destination mailboxes get scrambled around in my filter rules. I just make gmail server side filters, which is a shame since the Apple Mail rules are more powerful.

    11. 8

      I rewrote acme Mail for 9front recently, so that it handles threads properly. I now use that as my primary client.

      Sadly, it’s one of the more responsive clients I’ve tried, once upas/fs has loaded the mailbox.

      Judging by the number of quirky Quoth foo: lines I see on the plan 9 mailing lists, it seems like I’m not the only user :)

      Here’s what it looks like, carefully scrolled to show only technical messages. https://orib.dev/acmemail.png

    12. 8

      I use my own! Kanmail on desktop which has a kanban style UI (that’s mine) and then the excellent FairEmail on Android.

      1. 1

        Oh, man, dude, person - nah that sounds silly, fellow lobster, this is amazing. Ever since Inbox for Gmail, I’ve had a thought that this is what I want my e-mail to be handled. Instead of a huge unstructured todo, have a little order in there.

        Why not a Linux version though? How long did it take to bring it to this state?

        1. 1

          Thank you! Unfortunately struggling to get Linux working (see: https://github.com/Oxygem/Kanmail/issues/140) so currently disabled builds for it :/

          A few years on and off time wise, started 3 years ago but only build the IMAP/read side of things and used it as my main client (opening GMail to send!) for ~2 years, then a year ago put the time in to implement SMTP/etc and get it full featured/released :)

    13. 7

      Geary is the best GUI mail client on Linux, period.

      1. 4

        I only know the Mobian version on the Pinephone, but I don’t like Geary. It works alright, but you can’t configure/change the most basic of things. Like sorting a list of messages on subject. Or the fact that it triggers a notification for each new email. Pretty annoying if you use rss2email, or are subscribed to a lot of mailing lists.

        I feel Geary is designed for people who send and receive about two or three emails per week. For them it probably works pretty well. Maybe the desktop version is different.

      2. 2

        It’s pretty nice, but for some reason the search never has worked for me.

      3. 2

        It can’t do any encryption/signing stuff, so I guess “best” is highly subjective.

    14. 7

      I use Gnus, which is a news/mail reader in Emacs. It does threading and quoting correctly and display of HTML messages pretty well.

      In the past I went through a period of Mutt usage, and found the tutorial by Steve Losh at https://stevelosh.com/blog/2012/10/the-homely-mutt/ to be very helpful

      If you prefer Vim I think Mutt is a very good option. It can be configured to render HTML via lynx or w3m IIRC (I think it’s mentioned in the above tutorial) ISTR Losh’s preferred mutt keys are also quite vimmish

      1. 2

        I also use Gnus. I found it very strange to begin with, but got used to it. The splitting and scoring features are incredibly powerful, especially for high-traffic mailing lists

      2. 1

        Gnus here as well, but I blew away all the keybindings[1] and have a few of my own (that are intuitive to me having a history of mutt, pine, etc. and also because I use Evil mode).

        I use Gnus over other Emacs clients because it can do IMAP and so I do not need to depend on something like fetchmail (or whatever is popular these days), meaning it’s easy to bring up on different machines and platforms. UI-wise I’d prefer mu4e.

        [1] Gnus is a bit vi-like in it’s keybindings: there are a lot of them and accidentally touching the wrong one might delete or kill something you did not want to lose. (Or at least, I could never figure out how to recover.)

    15. 6

      Mail.app. It does everything I need. I use aerc on a server for a few accounts that need to be separate.

    16. 6

      s-nail. It’s like mail(1) on steroids. It’s that one program that’s surprisingly packaged everywhere but no one’s heard of it.

    17. 5
    18. 5

      I use Thunderbird, but then I only send plain text emails (as Nuggan intended) so I guess that’s why I don’t see the problems you’ve been having.

      1. 3

        I also only send plain text emails. But Thunderbird’s text wrapping is terrible. I’ve found vim’s wrapping does the right thing 90% of the time, and if it doesn’t I can always gQ.

    19. 5

      I use neomutt. I pretty much ignore any HTML-only email.

      1. 4

        Another vote for neomutt here. I’ve been using one mutt or another for two decades now. It’s second nature.

      2. 2

        Yet another neomutt user here. I use mbsync/msmtp for sync and sending, and mu for filtering.

    20. 5

      I’ve been using Thunderbird for many years now without extensions. Works perfectly for the most part, so can’t relate to your issues. The last email app I used that wasn’t Thunderbird, is Mailspring which was forked from Nylas N1, but I can’t remember why I stopped using it.

      1. 1

        I agree. Thunderbird seems to be the least-worst option available. It also has a lot of “advanced” features such as a proper tree-thread view and the ability to pull up the full conversation (in tree form of course).

        Personally I don’t like clients that linearize threads, it makes following discussions hard. I also can’t stand clients that thread based on subject (coughgmailcough).

        1. 1

          and the ability to pull up the full conversation

          That’s a neat trick.

    21. 8

      Today I learned there are still people who think they can tell others how to reply to an email, and even more people who will put up with this nonsense.

    22. 4

      I use Apple’s Mail app, both on Mac and iOS. It ain’t perfect, but I’ve looked at a ton of alternatives and Mail.app sucks less.

    23. 4

      Alright, I’ll admit it, I use outlook desktop.

      I like how it has a local index and is capable of finding the complete set of emails from my mother.

      I like how it costs money. Not a lot, but enough that I feel like a customer rather than a product.

      I like how it doesn’t take a ton of configuration or effort to set up. Email is a vital service and I don’t trust myself to do it right, so an out of box solution is ideal.

      I like how my email address is @live.com. I think it sounds cool. I’m shallow like that.

      I like how it has decent enough calendar integration with Google, Facebook, Alaska Airlines, my dentist, and a group of old schoolers who throws parties in the woods.

      I like its rule creation dialog, it’s power user enough to get every job I’ve needed from it done, but not enough to be off-putting.

      I like that I’m supporting a local business 🥴.

      I don’t like its overzealous spam filter. I have to actually check my spam folder once a week or so. Password reset emails always end up there. I have actually missed things I wanted (granted, those things were promotional in nature, so I’m not sure how well anyone else would have done).

      I don’t like it’s lack of integration with my second OS of choice, but the web app works well enough.

      I don’t like the ribbon UI.

    24. 4

      Mailmate on Mac (Configured to prefer plaintext over HTML)

      But I prefer (and extensively use) mutt with following configurations:

      • A lot of custom key bindings
      • Sidebar patch
      • mbsync for imap syncing (Maildir + multiple accounts)
      • msmtp for outbound
      • mu for indexing and search + keybinding in mutt
      • Vim as text editor (+ spell checking and proper line brreaking)
      • w3m or links to decode html - I am slightly happier with how w3m decodes tables
      • gnupg
    25. 4

      I’ve been using GMail (web+mobile) for a long, long time. But I seem to need plaintext email more and more (ie. git-send-email and discussion of patches on mailing lists) and I just recently started pulling my messages to a Notmuch database.

      Turns out you don’t really need a MUA at all with Notmuch. When I want to deal with plaintext mail, i just pull it with notmuch new and read with notmuch show (I sent a patch for --format=pretty to make this better). If I want to reply, notmuch reply [msg] > msg, then edit with vim and cat msg | msmtp -t. And of course git send-email is awesome. I’ve used mutt and alpine in the past and I like this simple raw approach better because there’s no cognitive load of a complex TUI with lots of configuration.

      So what about HTML mail? I’m afraid muggles hate plaintext mail wrapped at 72 characters. I know people have setups that can generate HTML from markdown and whatnot, but right now I’m not sure it’s worth the effort. So I use different clients with different people. If I get rid of GMail at some point I’ll probably switch to another webmail for HTML mail. You get rid of a huge amount of complexity by just using the simplest tool for the purpose. For plaintext it’s pretty much vim+msmtp, for HTML it’s a webmail.

    26. 4


      1. 5

        Moving from Mac to Windows, Apple’s mail client and OmniGraffle are about the only things that I miss. There’s a really nice .NET framework for talking IMAP / SMTP and it’s almost enough to tempt me to write a new mail client. Windows Mail doesn’t work well if you have server-side filtering into different folders: it doesn’t monitor all of your IMAP folders so you don’t get notifications for all of your mail. Outlook really wants to talk to Exchange and isn’t really happy with IMAP. Thunderbird freezes in the UI for extended periods (this is a lot better if you switch to Maildir for the local storage format, but this comes with big ‘this is not ready for prime time yet’ warnings) and periodically decides that the main window should be one pixel big and off the screen and a recent version broke the plugin that integrates with the OS-wide notification system.

        1. 1


          I always liked Visio on Windows, but annoyingly, MS never included it with Office. The fact it’s a separate sub from 365 is a travesty.

          1. 3

            I work at Microsoft, so we have Visio on our default install. I still find it clunky compared to OmniGraffle, particularly when you try to create arrows between boxes (and 95% of computer science is boxes with arrows between them). The magnet UI in OmniGraffle is worse in the latest versions but in OmniGraffle 3 / 4 was the best I’ve seen for this kind of thing. OmniGraffle falls down in a few places (creating complex shapes can be tricky and it can’t [couldn’t?] preserve layers when exporting to SVG. The latter was annoying because if it could then OmniGraffle + Sozi would be my favourite presentation tool.

            1. 4

              I wish Usenet was still a thing so I could put this is in my .sig.

              95% of computer science is boxes with arrows between them
              – David Chisnall 2021

              1. 2

                It’s not as busy as it used to be, but you can still access it for free.

                1. 2

                  Nice, thanks for the pointer.

                  I did jump onto Usenet maybe 5 years back but it was shell of its former self then (I looked at photography-related topics).

                  Didn’t we discuss a NNTP-frontend to lobste.rs once?

                  1. 1

                    NNTP-like frontends build be so awesome for a host of things. It would probably need some improvements that people have come to expect, like a more advanced scoring system and per-site customization (for e.g. poster flair or Reddit style awards), but it’d be great to have major discussion forums, comment sections etc. all be client-agnostic.

                    Someone should totally create site-to-NNTP gateways to facilitate this :)

                    1. 2

                      I did make a Lobsters NNTP gateway! nntp.scrollwheel.ca (It needs some rework for schema changes. And the fact it might have went down.).

                      The problem is NNTP is a terrible protocol, and I learned this implementing it. I also learned that most NNTP clients actually suck - Outlook Express was better than most of the “hardcore” NNTP clients I tried, in terms of behaviour and how it handled the protocol.

                      1. 1

                        Right, I think I remember seeing that. Never got around to trying it out myself, but I can easily imagine NNTP being terrible. Piggy-backing on a more modern protocol would probably make sense – perhaps JMAP would be better for this purpose.

    27. 4

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W_Z3nsj0Evk ;)

      It still works for me better than the alternatives…

    28. 4

      mutt mostly. Gmail web-client and iOS Mail.app at times.

      1. -2

        Don’t care about security, right?

        1. 2

          What’s insecure about those options?

    29. 3

      I was hoping to find someone in this thread who made KMail work. I use Thunderbird in KDE 5, but not by choice. I’ve just never found another Linux email client that consistently works without serious bugs or limitations. I’d like to buy in to the whole KDE ecosystem, and get all of the nice desktop integrations from native KDE apps, but every time I’ve tried KMail, the bugs and missing features make it unusable.

      (It’s been long enough since I last used it, at this point, that I don’t remember what the showstopper bugs were… Lots of UI annoyances though. Something as simple as a dark color scheme breaks its UI, with unreadable black-on-dark-gray text in places.)

      1. 2

        I quite like KMail but when I tried it it was missing the ability to show the full thread of a given message which was a deal-breaker for me. I had to manually find the thread in “All Mail” or try to get lucky searching for the subject.

    30. 3

      I use Mail.app (and have used it for 15 years). It has full HTML support, with some extra privacy additions in the upcoming version, displays threads by allowing the latest reply to be »folded« to a list, and has very good filtering support to build mailboxes based on header fields, spam status, name of recipient, groups of senders, etc, etc. Apart from moving or deleting mails, such rules may execute scripts, bounce the icon, post notifications, mark or forward mails, etc. It’s really very intricate, but easy to edit.

      1. 3

        I forgot to say above, but my favourite feature of Mail.app’s HTML support: It uses the WebKit2 sandboxed mode. It’s been a while since there were worms that propagated via exploits in HTML renderers used by mail clients, but it’s still a potential attack vector. Each HTML email that you receive in Mail.app is rendered in a separate sandboxed process, so you need a WebKit vulnerability and a sandbox escape to do any damage. I hope that Thunderbird will soon be able to pick up the sandboxing support from Firefox.

    31. 3

      Outside work: Spark. No idea if it does anything particularly advanced. My email is pretty much receive only these days. Comms from organisations and automated services. Links to click to reset passwords.

      Work: Outlook in its Office 365 on the web version. It’s pretty good.

    32. 2

      Thunderbird + birdtray, so it can be minimised to tray without closing.

      I wrote a quick and dirty review of several options a few years back:



      • Trojita: beautiful, but limited to one email account/server
      • Claws mail: beautiful, but no HTML email composition support (I need to send inline photos/diagrams all the time and colour important parts of emails because otherwise vendors don’t read past the first sentence. Life in ASCII only suits a select group.)
      • Thunderbird: no tray icon support without 3rd party tools. Weird corner cases. But it supports everything (TM) so it’s the only option I have that does what I need.
      • Seamonkey: the better version of Thunderbird that I always used to use. It looks like the Seamonkey project has stayed alive, I might go back and see how things are going (hopefully bookmark syncing words?).
    33. 2

      Thunderbird 60.9.x, for one reason: Dorando keyconfig, a no longer supported plugin. It gives me vi keybindings for navigating up/down the list of emails.


    34. 2

      I just rolled off macOS after ~12 years of it being my daily driver. I used Thunderbird at first, then Sparrow, then Airmail for the last several years. I’ve looked for a new email client ~yearly and always came back to Airmail.

      “The web browser” is my new base OS, really, as I’m switching between gaming on Windows, developing on Linux in a VM on that Windows box, and doing day job work on macOS working with a lot of Docker containers and big Hadoop cluster.

      So, to that end, I’m using GMail and Fastmail, both their web interfaces and Android apps. I’m on week two of it.

    35. 2

      Squirrelmail (Personal, at desktop), Mail on iOS/macOS (Work / Personal)

    36. 2

      Thunderbird for private mail, basically since it was published in 2004. Sadly the last few companies I worked for had GMail and Office 365/Outlook Web.

      I don’t have any major problems and all the minor problems I have pale in comparison to every other client I have tried in the last 10 years.

    37. 2

      Thunderbird is still the best email client, even if you can’t use an external editor any more.

    38. 2

      I mainly use Mail.app, and it’s…okay. Not bad, not great. No external editor integration (unless copy/paste counts), threads are pretty good, HTML is good but some load slowly (Patreon emails, mostly), and filtering is responsive and relatively easy to do (you can even set up “smart mailboxes” which are really just saved searches).

      I’ve been trying out aerc as well, but I’m kind of meh on it right now. I want to move to a more emacs-y setup, but I don’t want to take the time right now. It’s kind of a “good enough gets in the way of better” thing - Mail.app covers my use-cases well enough without enough pain to motivate me to explore other options.

    39. 2

      Has anyone tried Mailspring? https://getmailspring.com/ I haven’t yet, but it looks promising, cross-platform and GPLv3 licensed. It’s Electron, and I’m sure that’s a good reason to hate it, but VS Code is Electron and everyone still uses it.

      1. 5

        When it went full FOSS, I gave it a try. My verdict: it looks nice, but it is creepy-as-fuck. By default it tracks when people I send email to open their messages. So when I sent a message that I thought was plaintext only, it included an HTML part like this:

        Content-Type: text/html; charset="utf-8"
        Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable
        Content-Disposition: inline
        <div>Testing transport from mailspring to upcoming project list.</div><br><=
        div>2021-04-27 13<span data-emoji-typing=3D"true">:14</span></div><br><br><=
        div>Geoff</div><img class=3D"mailspring-open" alt=3D"Sent from Mailspring" =
        width=3D"0" height=3D"0" style=3D"border:0; width:0; height:0;" src=3D"http=

        The redacted parts sent my recipient’s base64-encoded email address to mailspring’s server when they opened it.

        No. Thank. You.

        I looked briefly at the source but was not confident in my ability to be sure I found and expunged all that creepy shit and did not test it a lot further.

        1. 1

          Well that’s disgusting

    40. 2

      I just a mix of my own mblaze and Gnus (also for newsgroups).

    41. 2
      • Mail.app on macOS
      • Mail.ipa on iOS

      I also have Outlook installed on iOS, so I don’t have my work email pinging me or front and centre when I check my email. (I occasionally fire an email off from my work account on the phone, hence having it there but mostly hidden.)

      1. 1

        Outlook on iOS might be my favorite iOS email client. I actually read my personal mail in Outlook and send my work mail to Mail.ipa when I’m using an iPhone. (And I enable Outlook notifications but not Mail.ipa notifications.)

    42. 2

      I still use Thunderbird, as my needs are modest. Multiple accounts, view HTML on occasion when necessary, basic filtering.

      I’d like to find a good curses/terminal MUA but the one or two I’ve tried seem designed for use with only a single account, and have non-existent or horrible UX for multiple accounts.

    43. 2

      I use Apple’s default mail apps on desktop and iOS for my actual personal email address.

      I have a personal Gmail account as well, and use the web interface on desktop and iOS app on mobile. I have a work-managed Google mail account that I use via web interface.

      I made several ill-fated forays into terminal-based mail clients and gave up when I found none of them have managed to move past the 1970s in their assumptions about how email works (even the supposedly good ones, for a long time, had only experimental-dangerous-use-at-your-own-risk support for things like IMAP and multiple mail accounts, because those don’t fit into the 1970s paradigm of how email “is supposed to work”).

    44. 2

      I used mutt exclusively for more than 15 years. Last year I migrated my mail from self-hosted over to Fastmail and I found their web interface so good it’s all I use now.

      (That, and I somewhat rely on the “Report Spam” and “Report Phishing” buttons in the UI, which, although can be sort of replicated in an IMAP client with filter rules, it’s less convenient.)

      1. 2

        Same, 90%[1] of the time: you can use a keyboard combination to hard wrap plain text, I pipe raw messages into hg or git to get patches.

        Decent standard configuration and also good settings if you go deeper. Also, it’s ridiculously fast, I’ll never use imap with a desktop client and I’m the kind of person that doesn’t like to use web apps.

        [1]: The last 10% are occasional email that I send from a terminal when it’s easier to do so. I never read from there.

    45. 2

      I use Gmail. I used pine then elm then mutt then evolution. When running my own mail infrastructure became boring and annoying I switched to Gmail for hosting and the UI was less annoying than the IMAP implementations of the various mail readers that I was fond of.

      It works well enough that I have no reason to switch. The cost is extremely reasonable given that it covers having Google’s lawyers, security engineers and antispam systems keeping things moving nicely and privately.

    46. 2

      In my e-mail golden days when I was able to keyboard-warrior through half a dozen W3C mailing lists, I’ve used Opera Mail. It was fantastic.

      When Opera died I defaulted to Apple Mail, and it’s been a slow death of e-mail for me. It’s sooo primitive. How can people use e-mail clients with flattened barely-working threads, and binary “read” flag that automatically disappears after two seconds and you never find the message ever again?

      Now there’s a revived Vivaldi Mail, so I’m giving it a try.

      1. 4

        Ah, Opera mail. What a shame it got sold rather than open sourced.

    47. 1

      At work, I generally use the o365 web client (on Linux). I’ve dabbled with outlook in my w10 vm, but it doesn’t seem worth it. And few people seem email literate anyway (probably in part because they’re stuck with awful tools, like Gmail and o365).

      I made half an effort to see if I could get some sensible calendar/contact sync - perhaps via evolution - but I never got close to what I wanted (ie: online feedback on when people and rooms are available; ability to accept invitations and see other people accepting/declining). I’d be happy to hear of any success stories.

      When I read more mail (a couple of lists, hundreds of support-related mails a day)- I used pine - and I’ve been ttoying with alpine more recently: https://alpine.x10host.com/

      I’m in the (slow) process of building up email for my own domains again, and hoping to maybe use postgresql/dbmail for the mailbox/search - with the ambition of maybe exposing it via a graphql layer rather than IMAP.

      Idea being that dbmail have LMTP sorted, as well as battle tested schema for mail storage and retrieval.


      Ed: i also think that with dbmail handling inserting mail, it might be possible to extend the schema with a few pg fulltext indices, and enable search via pg fulltext search.

    48. 1

      Work: gmail

      Private: mix of thunderbird and fastmail web-interface

    49. 1
      • Desktop/Laptop: Thunderbird (not so happy, but I hopped enough to not be happy with most. Still why I am looking through the thread)
      • Phone: K-9 Mail (Somewhat happy with it, but it has some rough corners, but better than others)
      • Work: Gmail web interface (and app), cause that works well in this environment

      Related question. How do TUI email do with images these days? I am mostly caring about having an easy way to open then when they are in-line and there is text surrounding it not having to guess which is which.

    50. 1

      I use the OpenExchange web interface offered by mailbox.org on the desktop and FairEmail on my android phone. I tried lots of other things:

      but those two are the ones I settled for. Although I’m currently giving aerc (after it was mentioned in this thread) another try.

    51. 1

      For me, it depends on platform.

      • Windows – Outlook.
        I use Windows only for work, and only do work email on it. Our agency uses Office 365, so I use desktop Outlook. It works okay; I don’t expect too much from it. If you do use Office365, it really is worth it to download the desktop programs and not rely on the web programs.

      • Linux – mu4e.
        I used to use Gnus, when I subscribed to a lot more mailing lists, because it’s very good for chewing through large volumes of mail.. But nnimap is kind of weird for things like filing messages to folders, and mu4e gives me much better search, which is important these days.

      • Android – several. For most of my mail on Android, I use FairMail. Used to use K9, but so much of its interface has become antiquated, and it has been bad at notifications. FairMail is a little better on both counts. I also have the Outlook app installed for work emails, and GMail for some ecommerce emails.

    52. 1

      I use Claws Mail, formerly known as Sylpheed Claws.

      • I don’t use “edit with external editor”, but it’s there.
      • Threaded interface is of the classic sort (tree threads in a split window, not GMail’s linear threads).
      • HTML display is now done via a horrible little Dillo plugin where you can’t actually interact with the content; I usually press a key to open the HTML view in a private browsing window.
      • No HTML compose. I suppose in a pinch I could use Fastmail’s web client.
      • Filtering is done via boolean logic and can be fairly advanced.

      Good keybinding support, and you can integrate external tools fairly well.

    53. 1

      mutt, K9mail and rainloop. I don’t do much with K9, it’s just to have something in my pocket. I do even less with rainloop, but it’s the simplest web client that runs directly against an IMAP/TLS account, so in dire situations I can access it from any machine that has a web browser I trust to type a password into.

      mutt is the only MUA that can actually handle 100K+ messages in an inbox. Not that I do that, but you’d be surprised what users get up to from time to time. The mutt filter system is everything that the MH people always wanted but never managed to integrate properly. Add in searching via mairix or maildir-utils and everything necessary and pleasant is to hand.

    54. 1

      Gmail Web on desktop

      Spark on Android (recently switched back to Gmail on Android though)

      notmuch + netviel for viewing backups

    55. 1

      Mostly Mail.app but not that infrequently alpine, because I used to use alpine all the time (after migrating from pine), until Mail.app got good enough to replace it for everyday use. alpine is good, I t’s a really nice middle ground between mutt and something fancy. It has really useful context-aware menus on screen all the time, sensible key mappings, good selection/grouping tools, good role/account management, and it’s extremely configurable. I always use it when I’m on Linux, and I’d use it a lot more if I didn’t live in Mac land so much of the time.

    56. 1

      I was hoping to find a native replacement for Mail.app in the comments but alas.

    57. 1

      For those Mail.app users, does Mail now support keyboard shortcuts for archiving and moving to the next message in the mailbox? Looking at https://support.apple.com/guide/mail/keyboard-shortcuts-mlhlb94f262b/mac I don’t see anything.

      In Gmail, this is [ and ]; If my old muscle memory is right, in mutt this is just space.

      1. 1

        Yes for archiving: cmd+ctrl+a. For next / previous message I don’t think there’s an equivalent.

        1. 1

          Down arrow? Might be misunderstanding the question though.

          1. 1

            I believe they’re referring to a key for next message without defocusing or backing out of the message view, like the arrows in the top right of the iOS Mail message view.

    58. 1

      The answer depends on the OS.

      • Outlook on Windows and Apple Mail for my work email
      • Gmail web client on macOS and iOS Gmail client for personal email