My tiny archivemail alternative in Rust

Nov 30, 2023

Almost ten years ago, I blogged about my email setup (1, 2, 3). Since then, not a lot has changed. I still download my emails locally with mbsync, use mutt to view and compose emails, msmtp to actually send emails, and finally notmuch to index emails. A crucial part of the setup that I didn't mention, was archivemail.

Archivemail is a Python 2 application that archives older emails and cleans up mailboxes. I used it to prune my big public mailboxes such as mailing lists, forum updates (, etc.

As I mentioned, archivemail is written for Python 2, which isn't supported by Debian anymore and thus, I had to look for an alternative. I found Chewmail, which looks like a potential Perl option, but instead, I decided to write a small replacement in Rust for fun.

Archivemail is a CLI utility that reads emails from various sources (IMAP, (mbox|maildir) mailboxes), then filters them based on their date and either deletes them or moves them to a different mailbox. It also compresses the archived mails and appends them to any previously archived mails.

Personally, I only use the maildir format, so my version only supports that. Also, since modern hard drives provide so much storage capacity, implementing compression didn't feel like a necessity. Instead, I opted to move archived mails to a maildir mailbox elsewhere on the filesystem. This has the added benefit of being able to use mu/maildir-utils directly on the maildir, without having to decrompress it first.

With the above in mind, the Rust program I developed only supports deleting or archiving emails based on their date. It's using the same argument names as archivemail, so it is a drop-in replacement for me, but lacks support for any of the fancier features. If time permits, I might add support for compression.

You can find the source on GitHub or Sourcehut.

Tags: rust mail