Recently, I wrote an article covering the best email clients you can use on a Linux Desktop, all of the email clients in that list were 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 as 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
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 and can be integrated with web-based email user agents.
It works well for new users and experts alike, hence it is user-friendly, and 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 some exciting features and these include:
- Can handle so many emails
- Supports fast full-text message search
- Supports automatic contact list management
- Handles emails from several sources including mbox and Maildir
- Easily search through the entire email store
- Supports gpg for privacy functionality
- Supports management of multiple email accounts
Notmuch 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 the Mutt integration script
Mu4e is an emacs-based email client that allows users to handle e-mails (such as searching, reading, replying, moving, and 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.
Aerc is recommended as one of the best email clients that run on your terminal. It is free and open-source software that is very powerful and extensible and is perfect for discerning hackers.
NeoMutt is a tiny, but powerful command-line mail reader program based on Mutt with added features such as color terminals, full-text search, text-based browsers, MIME, OpenPGP, POP and IMAP support, SSL encryption and SASL authentication, and threaded sorting mode.
8. Cone – Console Newsreader And Emailer
Cone is another feature-rich text-based mail program and news reader that continuously handles numerous POP3, IMAP accounts, and local mail folders.
It also comes with advanced features for power users such as a built-in text editor for reading/editing emails, html support, address books, SSL/TLS, kview image viewer, and xpdf for displaying pdf files.
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 the 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.