My mail setup using Mutt/OfflineIMAP/imapfilter

Feb 27, 2015

Update 17/03/2015: I'm also using NotMuch now, for more info check out this post.

Update 2/6/2015: I've added msmtp to the mix, check out my new post about it.

This is part of a series of posts where I describe my workflow and OS setup.

I use email a lot both in work and my daily life, so I want/need to have a lot of control on my mail. I use IMAP for getting my email for all my accounts and SMTP to send mails.

My mail client of choice is Mutt, which is a fully featured text based (terminal) MUA. Mutt has a nice interface (supports colors), it can read the maildir mailbox format (more on that later), uses an external editor for writing email (I use Vim), supports gpg/pgp, etc. In short, it's not lacking any features compared to a GUI client.

You can use Mutt to connect to an IMAP server and have Mutt fetch your mail, but I prefer to use OfflineIMAP which is written in Python. OfflineIMAP syncs my mails from multiple remote servers to the local filesystem in maildir format. It also supports syncing between IMAP servers but I don't need that kind of functionality. The configuration file of OfflineIMAP is simple, clean, powerful and intuitive if you've used Python before.

Depending on the machine I'm working on, I only sync specific IMAP folders. Here is the part of my .offlineimaprc file responsible for selecting the folders to be sync'ed.

    folderfilter = lambda folder: folder in ['INBOX',

As always you can find my dotfiles on my GitHub account.

There is one more piece of software involved on my email setup and that is imapfilter, a utility to filter/sort emails on the remote IMAP server. It's written in a combination of C and Lua and its configuration file is using Lua too. You can filter mails based on a number of different fields like CC, To, From, Subject, etc. There is not much more to say about it actually, it does one job and it does it well and fast.

Here is a diagram of the above setup (created with asciio):

                               Mutt sends mail using SMTP
                  |                                                       ^
                  |                                                       |
                  v                                                       |
             .-,(  ),-.                                                   |
          .-(          )-.        .-------------.     .--------.      .------.
         (  Mail Servers  )<----->. OfflineIMAP .---->. ~/mail .<-----. Mutt .
          '-(          ).-'       '-------------'     '--------'      '------'
              '-.( ).-'        Fetch mails on ~/mail                 Read mails
                  ^            and sync their status                 from ~/mail
                  |            with the remote server
           . imapfilter .
    imapfilter constantly filtering mails

Tags: software workflow email