Learning the Mutt Mail Client

By | 2007/04/14

I’ve decided over the past few days that I wanted to learn more about and start using Mutt for my mail client.  After reading numerous pages and seeing dozens of examples of .muttrc files I’ll say that I’m still a bit lost on what I should and shouldn’t be setting.  For those of you that have experience with Mutt I’d appreciate any tips you might have.  Here is some of my basic setup.

  • Gmail: I need to follow this account and be able to send as @gmail and @ubuntu from this account.
  • IMAP: My office uses an IMAP server for email that I’ll also need to follow.
  • From what I can tell these both need pops:// and imaps:// for connection.
  • This makes two incoming accounts to track and three accounts I need to be able to send-as.  (I have already configured postfix to handle outgoing)
  • I also would like to PGP sign all of these accounts and validate incoming signed emails.

I know that kind of looks like a lot.  I have much of it roughly figured out but don’t feel terribly confident about how I have it pieced together so far.  I’m do have some of these options missing..

I appreciate any help in getting this setup.  Thanks.

9 thoughts on “Learning the Mutt Mail Client

  1. Don McArthur

    I ran mutt for years. I finally decided that for me it was an example of complexity for the sake of complexity, and basically more trouble than it was worth. I’ve since swithed to Thunderbird, with the Lightning calendar plugin, and I am very pleased with it. And I love its filters.

  2. Daniel Robitaille

    I don’t think you will be able to mix both your work and home email setup in the same mutt window. But you could create two muttrc config files, and run mutt twice in two different xterm, each pointing to a different home or work setup using the -F command line option.

    For your imap mail, you will need to setup your spoolfile and folders to something like:

    set spoolfile=”imaps://[email protected]/INBOX”

    set folder=”imaps://[email protected]/”

    I don’t think I have ever done pop with mutt. I suspect your spoolfile needs a pops:// and folder will point to a local directory to get it to work.

    To set up your email address for sending, you will need to play with your send-hooks. Something like:

    send-hook . \
    ‘my_hdr From: Daniel Robitaille

  3. ashwin


    I am very much interested in setting up mutt for my gmail acoount. I found all the resources for setting mutt to be complex. If you were able to setup, then do post a nice tutrial on it.

  4. Treenaks

    For sending using different addresses, look at folder-hook and alternates in the Mutt Manual.

    Imap is easy: just add ‘mailboxes’ lines for the folders you want to read (‘mailboxes imap://user@host/folder’)

    PGP/GPG signing is also easy — and you can change the key in use with folder-hook or send-hook (or send2-hook). I use this to switch between S/MIME and GPG.

  5. Jeff Waugh

    For imap and pop, your best bet is probably offlineimap and fetchmail, using offlineimap to sync a particular tree of maildirs for your imap account.

    For easy multiple sender address functionality, use muttprofile (packaged).

  6. Laurie

    I love Mutt! If you need to manage lists and organise your mail it is really much faster than Thunderbird or Evolution etc. Example “shift-L” lets you filter your Inbox on any search term; “c” tells you whch mail boxes have unread mail. I use it with spamassassin, procmail, fetchmail and postfix. Fetchmail sits in the background checking my three pop accounts, procmail gets the mail from fetchmail, and drops it into whatever mailboxes it knows about or spamassassin and mutt just knows where to find stuff!

    It is complex to set up initially, but so are effective filters and rules in ThunderOutlEvolution. The site Niko suggested is excellent. I used the dot files published by Telsa on http://www.linux.org.uk/~telsa/BitsAndPieces/cave.html as templates and learning exercises. There is a lot out there about Mutt. Find a published dotmuttrc and dotprocmail setup – I’ll send you mine if you like. You will need fetchmail, postfix (sendmail replacement) and procmail to really see why it is so cool.

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