I use a laptop without a mouse as my main work system, and I could really use a fully keyboard-driven email client with graphics support.

Right now I have the option of using GUI clients, which, even if they support the keyboard, are optimized for the mouse (buttons and menus taking screen space, actions based on navigating menus with the arrow keys, etc) or terminal-based clients, which don't support embedded images in HTML messages.

Is there something that tries to mix the best of both worlds?

  • I could understand a console, but any particular reason your in a GUI environment without a mouse? – TheLQ Jan 9 '12 at 6:42
  • @TheLQ: simply convenience. I don't have a trackpad and carrying a mouse everywhere (I often work at coffee shops and similar places) is annoying. Plus, I think I'm much faster without it. – André Paramés Jan 11 '12 at 1:06

Thunderbird has the Nostalgy add on: it provides a range of keyboard shortcuts to supplement those already included by default (which is a reasonably extensive list anyway).

Additionally, if you find that these are insufficient, you can use the Keyconfig extension to customize your own shortcuts.

If you really want a minimalist interface, you can install muttator, which—as it says on the box—makes Thunderbird:

look and behave like the Vim text editor. It has similar key bindings and you could call it a modal mail client, as key bindings differ according to which mode you are in.

This screenshot shows the minimalist chrome using muttator.

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  • 1
    Now Thunderbird 60 is out and muttator can no longer be used. What can be done now? – xuhdev Sep 18 '18 at 22:27
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    @xuhdev install mutt :) – jasonwryan Sep 18 '18 at 22:54

I have the same need and, now that Thunderbird is deemed to oblivion, we will all need a substitution to Thunderbird+Nostalgy (the best pair ever).

I have tried evolution, claws-mail and sylpheed but none of them can be fully used solely with a keyboard AFAIK (my favourite test: try navigating in the folder tree and try to expand/collapse branches WITHOUT clicking on the '|>' next to a folder that contains subfolders).

In the long term I'll probably revert to mutt (NON GUI, I know) plus fetching/filtering scripts like fetchmail, offlineimap, etc.

So my answer is: at the moment there is NO product that combines the best of both worlds

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I know is not an exact answer, but gmail has a lot of keyboard shortcuts. Most of the task can be done without touching the mouse.

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  • While I do use Gmail for now (through Apps), it's somewhat infuriating, since it's almost but not quite there, and in particular in the stuff that it leaves up to the browser (e.g. opening links/URLs). It's also tied their servers, which I wanted to avoid. – André Paramés Jan 9 '12 at 2:56

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