Recently, I wrote an article covering the 6 Best Email Clients you can use on Linux Desktop, all of the email clients in that list where graphical user interface (GUI) programs, but sometimes, users prefer to deal with email directly from the command-line.
For this reason, there is also a need to highlight some of the best text-based email clients that you can use on your Linux system. Although command-line email clients do not offer exceptional features as their GUI counterparts, they do offer to present some great and powerful message handling components.
In this review, we shall exclusively dive into looking at some of the best command-line email clients for Linux and the list is as follows. Please note, all these below email clients can be installed using default package managers such as yum, dnf or apt as per your Linux system distribution.
1. Mutt – Mail User Agent
Mutt is a small, lightweight yet powerful text-based email client for Unix-like operating systems. It is feature-rich and some of its remarkable features include:
- Easy to install
- Color support
- Message threading
- Support for IMAP and POP3 protocols
- Delivery status support
- Supports several mailbox formats such as mbox, MH, Maildir, MMDF
- Support for PGP/MIME (RFC2015)
- Multiple message tagging
- Various components to support mailing listing, including list-reply
- Full control of message headers during composition
- The active development community and many more
For installation and usage: https://www.tecmint.com/send-mail-from-command-line-using-mutt-command/
2. Alpine – Internet News and Email
Alpine is a fast, easy-to-use and open-source terminal-based email client for Unix-like operating systems, based on the Pine messaging system. Alpine also runs on Windows, can be integrated with web-based email user agents.
It works well for new users and experts alike, hence it is user-friendly, you can simply learn how to use it through context-sensitive help. Additionally, you can easily customize it through the Alpine setup command.
Some of its features include:
- Support for several protocols such as IMAP, POP, SMTP and so on
- Packaged with Pico text editor
- Supports context-sensitive help on screen
- Well documented
- Not actively developed plus many more
Sup is a console-based email client that enables users to deal with a lot of emails. When you run Sup, it presents a list of threads with multiple tags attached, each thread is a hierarchical assortment of messages.
Sup has got some exciting features and these include:
- Can handle so much email
- Supports fast full-text message search
- Supports automatic contact list management
- Handles emails from several sources including mbox and Maildir
- Easily search through entire email store
- Supports gpg for privacy functionality
- Supports management of multiple email accounts
“Notmuch mail” is a fast, powerful, global-search and tag-based email system that you can use in your Linux text editors or terminal. Its development was highly influenced by Sup, and it offers performance enhancement to several Sup features.
It is not much of an email client, therefore, it does not receive emails or send messages but simply allows users to search quickly through a collection of emails. You can think of it as a library interface to extend an email program for fast, global and tag-based email searching functionality.
Notmuch has the following notable features:
- Does not support IMAP or POP3 protocols
- No mail composer
- Supports tags and fast search
- No user interface
- Uses Xapian to perform its major task, hence “not much”
- Supports several command-line utilities, email clients and wrappers for Emacs, vim text editors
- Also supports Mutt integration script
Mu4e is an emacs-based email client that allows users to handle e-mails (such as searching, reading, replying, moving, deleting) very efficiently. The basic idea is to configure an offline Imap client that allows syncing your local computer with a remote email server.
- Entirely search-based without any folders, only queries.
- Easy documentation with example configurations.
- User-interface designed for speed, with fast keystrokes for common actions.
- Support for signing and encryption.
- Address auto-completion as per your existing messages.
- Extensible with available snippets or with your own code.
Lumail is a console-based email client that is developed especially for GNU/Linux with fully integrated scripting and supporting operations upon local Maildir hierarchies and remote IMAP mail-servers.
There are many graphical-based email clients for Linux, but comparatively, Lumail designed solely for command-line use only with built-in support for scripting with a real language.
Aerc is recommended as one of the best email clients that run on your terminal. It is free and open-source software which is very powerful and extensible and is perfect for discerning hackers.
The above-listed command-line or terminal or text-based email clients are the best you can use on your Linux system, but many times, you can only find out good features and performance attributes of an application after testing it.
Therefore, you can give all of them a try and choose which one to use, that is in case you are a command-line addict, who does not use GUIs so much. Importantly, you can also let us know of any other command-line email clients that you think deserve to appear in the list above, through the comment section below.