Blog of Sara Jakša

Using Mutt to Read Emails

I am going to admit, that I have been interested in the idea of minimalism for years. Getting rid of the things that are unnecessary and make sure that what is left is what I enjoy having and doing. I am still far away of the ideal, but it is there. Now I am going to just elsewhere, but I will come to this point later.

I have been spending a bit of time on trying to speed up my internet site in the last two months. I wanted to make sure than my banwidth is as small as possible for enviormental reasons and my loading time is as small as possible for respect of the time that people have. I am still very far away from it.

But there was one thing that I noticed. Quite a lot of websites were hell of a lot slower than my website. And one of them was also gmail, which I had been using so far to check my email. Which means, that every time I checked emails, I had to wait a couple of seconds (not that I ever timed it). Plus, I am more and more uncomfortable with how personal data is used, so I always knew that eventually I will close it anyway. So this was a good excuse for me to try something new and to make sure that I am making a step into getting away from the giant internet companies.

What I decided to try was mutt. This is a command line program, that allows me to read my emails and to recive them. I also had to get msmtp to send my messages. I head about mutt from one of my professors, when I was abroad. I found the idea of checking the email in the command line interesting. But up until now, I had never tried it. I found out about msmpt from the helpful guide about using mutt on ubuntu. They also recomend some other packages (like fetchmail), but I found out that I don't need them.

I did spend a lot of time trying to track down, how the configuration files should look like, so I will share mine, in case they help somebody. First here is the configuration file for mutt (.muttrc):

set realname = "Sara Jakša"
set from = "Sara Jakša <[email address]>"

set folder = [imap url:port]
set imap_user = [email username]
set imap_pass = [email password]

unset imap_passive
set imap_keepalive = 300
set mail_check = 120

set spoolfile = "+INBOX"
set postponed ="+Drafts"
mailboxes = +INBOX

set sendmail="/usr/bin/msmtp"

set header_cache = ~/.cache/mutt
set message_cachedir = "~/.cache/mutt"

And a configuration file for msmtp (.msmtprc)

account default              
host [smtp url]      
port [smtp port]                     
from [email]  
tls on                       
tls_starttls off              
tls_trust_file /etc/ssl/certs/ca-certificates.crt
auth on                     
user [email username]    
password [email password]
logfile ~/.msmtp.log

Though I would recomend, that you follow the guide that I linked above, as the person writting it probablly have a lot more knowledge about it than somebody that started learing about it less than 24 hours ago.

Now let me return to the point about the minimalism, that I started before. I always liked the command line, because it forced me to be minimalistic about it. There are no colors to distract my, neither are there any advertizments. It helps, that I am not checking my emails in the browser, because that means, that if I am not learning a new programming something, I can just eliminate the browser from my linux instalation. Also, I am still not sure how to do different setttings, but it seems that once I delete a message from mutt, it is also gone from the server. Which also helps with being more mindful about it, but also with being able to forget about it, once the message it deleted.

I think the point of the minimalism is also to find the tools that help one do the work, that needs to be done, without distracting us. And mutt, not being a browser, already has the advantage of not being able to simply switch to blogs or youtube (or the current addiction that I am fighting for the last couple of months: fanfiction). Plus, it is not anoying and slow, like some of the other clients, like Thunderbird. I think I finally found something, that will only improve my life.