Some have said that the killer app for the Internet is e-mail. Whether or not you agree with that statement, e-mail is probably the most widely used application on the Internet today.

Using e-mail effectively can be difficult without the right tools. While some people like having GUI based mail client, I prefer a highly flexible TUI-based client and tool chain that I can use and configure from anywhere.

Having said that here are the e-mail tools I use.


Mutt is my favorite e-mail client that is both simple to use and highly configurable. The feature that first drew me to Mutt was the fact that it can thread mail messages. If your e-mail client cannot do this you do not know what you are missing. The LinuxBRIT has a nice .muttrc example.


Almost anybody can now get a free e-mail account that has POP3 access. Using fetchmail you can collect all the mail from multiple POP3 accounts to your home machine. A special daemon mode in conjunction with a cron entry will keep you mail fetched from your POP3 accounts.


Too many incoming e-mail landing in you inbox? Make procmail your friend. Procmail can sort your legitimate incoming mail into separate folders based on e-mail headers.

For some good examples of procmail recipies check out:

Procmail recipies can look cryptic but there is a method to the madness. Here are some articles that will help understand and write procmail recipies:


While not an exact opposite of fetchmail, sendmail is an MTA that can send and receive SNMP messages to and from another MTA. Sendmail supports SMTP AUTH for sending your e-mail through and ISP that requires you to login to their MTA. I however, have been unsuccessful in getting this feature to work.


As spam becomes more prevalent in e-mail, wading through a ton of unsolicited e-mails can easily eat up your day. This is where SpamAssassin comes in. SpamAssassin is very good at identifying e-mail that is spam and allows you to configure how it determins what is spam and what is not if there are lots of false positives or negatives.

GNU Privacy Guard

If you are concered with people snooping your e-mail, then a great encryption package to use is GPG.


If you know people that like to send small messages as MS Word attachments, you can either rebuke them and/or use antiword to view the MS Word document as text.

If you also configure [mutt][]'s autoview to use antiword, Word attachments will automatically be displayed so that you can determine if you want to keep the attachment or not.


Mairix is a fast e-mail indexing and search utility. A nice feature of Mairix is that you can create virtual Maildir folders of e-mail matching specific criteria.

Tips for searching e-mail:


OfflineIMAP allows you to keep a local copy of your e-mail in sync with a remote IMAP server. This is extremely useful for laptop users with transient Internet connections so you can fetch and process mail offline. Then when you have an Internet connection synchronize your mail again with the server.


So now you need an IMAP server to sync with. You can either use a hosted IMAP service (e.g., Google IMAP) or you can run your own server. I prefer the latter and use Dovecot to serve my e-mail.