I really like the idea of Mutt, reading mail in the terminal. I'm not really pleased with some inconsistencies and the imap handling. I set about trying to find some alternatives to mutt, but I can't seem to find any.

What alternatives to the mutt e-mailclient for terminal exist for linux?

  • I've seen a lot of folks using gnus, though haven't used it myself in a while. BTW, what is it that you are struggling with?
    – devnull
    Apr 5 '14 at 8:19
  • Imap keeps hanging mutt because my internet can be a bit spotty. Keybindings are a bit inconsistent. I don't really like some of the spacing and placing of items. Haven't found a way yet to change the statusbar in the bottom.
    – jaapz
    Apr 5 '14 at 8:32
  • 3
    Instead of mutt's native (and sub-par) IMAP handling, use OfflineIMAP to manage mail retrieval; that way you get excellent IMAP support and the most suckless MUA... If you want another MUA, look at notmuch.
    – jasonwryan
    Apr 5 '14 at 9:36
  • I will look into offlineimap then first, thanks :)
    – jaapz
    Apr 5 '14 at 10:57
  • 2
    @jaapz for the Status Bar: use set status_chars and set status_format. Check stevelosh.com/blog/2012/10/the-homely-mutt/#configuring for an example. Apr 20 '14 at 9:53

The obvious answer is Alpine, which used to be Pine, but was freed by the University of Washington. Pine is non-free software, Alpine is free software. Alpine is quite similar to Mutt, but Mutt is generally considered to be more powerful and flexible. The current active branch of Alpine is a fork called Re-Alpine, since the University of Washington has largely ceased development of Alpine as of 2008.

The Wikipedia pages on Pine and Alpine cover the history adequately.

I'd recommend trying to figure out your issues with Mutt instead of jumping to another mail client. Alpine inherits a polished user interface from Pine, but has some significant limitations and inflexibilities compared to Mutt. Therefore, you may find using it comes with its own problems.

Personally, I've used Pine since 1994, and switched to Alpine when that became available. I've thought over the years that I ought to be using Mutt instead, but never managed a successful transition.

Incidentally, IMAP was created by the late Mark Crispin, who used to work at the University of Washington developing IMAP. He was therefore also, unsurprisingly, responsible for Pine's IMAP support.

In the Pine credits he is listed thus:

C-Client library & IMAPd:       Mark Crispin
  • I will look into Re-alpine as well, thanks!
    – jaapz
    Apr 5 '14 at 10:58
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    I'd like to echo Faheem Mitha's personal Pine story. Oddly, I switched from BSD mail to Pine around 1994. I've tried Mutt, too, but never made the switch. Apr 5 '14 at 17:17
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    Also, because this is actually a legit answer to my question, I'll mark this as the accepted answer, although I've now wrestled a bit more with mutt to make it work to my liking :)
    – jaapz
    Apr 10 '14 at 13:30

Check these out:

  • sup — A curses threads-with-tags style email client
  • aerc — Asynchronous email client for your terminal (slow development)

You might want to consider nmh, a set of programs for messing with mail. As each function is a separate command, you can mix and match, and combine them with any old Unix command/filter.

Never forget the venerable mail and Mail programs...



I found myself in a similar situation after spending too much time configuring mutt, so I created nmail.

It's a light-weight console/terminal-based email client for Linux and macOS with a user interface similar to alpine / pine.

It's currently not available through any package manager, so it requires you to copy & paste some commands from its web page to build/install it, but after that it should be fairly easy to use.

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