I have been using Mutt for a while now. Wouldn’t say that it saves my time, but nor does it extend the amount of time I spend reading email. For me, the best part about Mutt is that it lets me use text editor of my choice - Vim. Everything else - keyboard shortcuts, minimalist design, and simplicity - already exists in Gmail.

I found configuration below to work really well for my needs: all of the important for me Gmail features are translated. Here’s my .muttrc file:

bind editor <space> noop
set alias_file        = '~/.mutt/aliases.txt'
set copy              = no
set display_filter    = '$HOME/.mutt/aliases.sh'
set edit_headers
set editor            = "vim +/^$ ++1"
set folder            = "imaps://imap.gmail.com/"
set hostname          = "gmail.com"
set imap_check_subscribed
set imap_pass         = "$PASSWORD"
set imap_user         = "$USERNAME"
set mail_check        = 5
set move              = no
set postponed         = "+[Gmail]/Drafts"
set spoolfile         = "+INBOX"
set text_flowed       = yes
unset imap_passive
unset record

# Gmail-style keyboard shortcuts
macro index ga "<change-folder>=[Gmail]/All Mail<enter>" "Go to all mail"
macro index gd "<change-folder>=[Gmail]/Drafts<enter>" "Go to drafts"
macro index gi "<change-folder>=INBOX<enter>" "Go to inbox"
macro index gs "<change-folder>=[Gmail]/Starred<enter>" "Go to starred messages"
macro index gt "<change-folder>=[Gmail]/Trash<enter>" "Go to trash"
macro index,pager d "<save-message>=[Gmail]/Trash<enter><enter>" "Trash"
macro index,pager y "<save-message>=[Gmail]/All Mail<enter><enter>" "Archive"

source $alias_file

It is quite self-explanatory, and includes such nice features as:

  • Automatically adding addresses from read emails to address book (see below).
  • Using vim as a text editor, with an ability to edit message headers/recipients from within vim.
  • Ability to access all the default Gmail folders: All mail, Drafts, Inbox, Starred, Trash.
  • Key bindings to delete and archive messages bound to d and y respectfully (I am a huge fun of a zero-mail inbox).

You might also want to have your password encrypted by GPG as opposed to leaving it in plain text in your .muttrc file. You can read how to do this here: Using Mutt with GPG.

As you may have noticed, .muttrc above sets display_filter to $HOME/.mutt/aliases.sh. This script is being executed every time you read an email, and it collects email address to $HOME/.mutt/aliases.txt. Contents of the aliases.sh are below:

#!/bin/sh

MESSAGE=$(cat)

AWK='{$1=""; if (NF == 3) {print "alias" $0;} else if (NF == 2) '
AWK+='{print "alias" $0 $0;} else if (NF > 3) {print "alias", '
AWK+='tolower($(NF-1))"-"tolower($2) $0;}}'

NEWALIAS=$(echo "${MESSAGE}" | grep ^"From: " | sed s/[\,\"\']//g | awk $AWK)

if grep -Fxq "$NEWALIAS" $HOME/.mutt/aliases.txt; then
    :
else
    echo "$NEWALIAS" >> $HOME/.mutt/aliases.txt
fi

echo "${MESSAGE}"

This script will create aliases.txt file containing email addresses for search and auto completion of email-addresses.

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