I have fond memories to using pine and emacs/rmail for reading mail in the 90's. At some point I switched over to Gmail plain HTML, but I recently realized I really miss navigating mail with cursor keys, replying with R, etc. And that QUICK, QUICK response to every action that did not involve an HTTP request to some far-off server.

With this in mind, I tried alpine and mutt a year ago, and they were extremely complex things. A million settings, and they insisted on downloading my 100.000 emails from Gmail, which of course took forever, and searching was dead slow, and there were so many ways to get lost.

What I suspect, is that UNIX mailers are super-complex, historical beasts trying to cater for every UNIX guru's possible need, with configuration files that require a Ph. D. in astrophysics.

What I'm wondering is, has someone who has taken the following approach:

Make a lightweight, text-based email client for UNIX terminals, but with great simplicity and usability for everyday tasks such as replying/deleting/forwarding mail, threading, super-fast searches even for huge mailboxes, and simply for getting quickly through your inbox. And yeah, some brilliant, seamless way of viewing attachments (this being a text-based environment).

Sort of a "take the best from the minimalism from UNIX and combine it with the usability of the modern Web" kind of approach. I think I would start crying if someone had actually made this.

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    I'd suggest to index the mail using notmuch. It's super fast, even on large mailboxes. And don't download your mail if you don't want to have it downloaded, mutt doesn't insist on doing that, it does what you tell it to do. Can't speak about alpine. – Marco Sep 8 '13 at 12:15

Old pine user too, I've switched to mutt because of his lot of functions and binding and the recent community activity.

You could ask for a mailbox as a file, a maildir as a directory, or even reach IMAP servers directly...

After some time of reading docs and configurations. It could become really cool. (link to your binaries, html links, like attachments work fine!)

I use PGP and SMime is supported too, in both ends (signing and/or crypting), in both ways (reading and writting)...

Use Up, Down, PgUp, PgDwn for browsing mail list, Enter for reading one mail, v to list multipart as a browseable tree, Enter on a .pdf file to see you prefered viewer run and dump your attachment...

You could find there some config samples, with associated screenshots.

  • And if you wanna use your mouse, you may create some binds, using xrm for sample. – F. Hauri Sep 8 '13 at 23:04

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