Title : Using emacs to manage mails with mu4e
Author: Solène
Date : 15 June 2017
Tags : emacs email
In this article we will see how to fetch, read and manage your emails
from Emacs using mu4e. The process is the following: mbsync command
(while mbsync is the command name, the software name is **isync**)
create a mirror of an imap account into a Maildir format on your
filesystem. **mu** from mu4e will create a database from the Maildir
directory using xapian library (full text search database), then mu4e
(mu for emacs) is the GUI which queries xapian database to manipulates
your mails.
Mu4e handles with dynamic bookmarks, so you can have some predefined
filters instead of having classic folders. You can also do a query and
reduce the results with successives queries.
You may have heard about using notmuch with emacs to manage mails,
mu4e and notmuch doesn't do the same job. While notmuch is a nice tool
to find messages from queries and create filters, it operates as a
read-only tool and can't do anything with your mail. mu4e let you
write mail, move, delete, flag etc... AND still allow to make complex
I wrote this article to allow people to try mu4e quickly, you may want
to read both isync and mu4e manual to have a better configuration
suiting your needs.
## Installation
On OpenBSD you need to install 2 packages:
# pkg_add mu4 isync
## isync configuration
We need to configure isync to connect to the IMAP server:
Edit the file **~/.mbsyncrc**, there is a trick to not have the
password in clear text in the configuration file, see isync
configuration manual for this:
iMAPAccount my_imap
Host my_host_domain.info
User imap_user
Pass my_pass_in_clear_text
IMAPStore my_imap-remote
Account my_imap
MailDirStore my_imap-local
Path ~/Maildir/my_imap/
Inbox ~/Maildir/my_imap/Inbox
SubFolders Legacy
channel my_imap
Master :my_imap-remote:
Slave :my_imap-local:
Patterns *
Create Slave
Expunge Both
## mu4e / emacs configuration
We need to configure mu4e in order to tell where to find the mail
folder. Add this to your **~/.emacs** file.
(require 'mu4e)
(setq mu4e-maildir "~/Maildir/my_imap/"
mu4e-sent-folder "/Sent Messages/"
mu4e-trash-folder "/Trash"
mu4e-drafts-folder "/Drafts")
## First start
A few commands are needed in order to make everything works. We need
to create the base folder as mbsync command won't do the job for some
reason, and we need mu to index the mails the first time.
mbsync can takes a moment because it will download ALL your mails.
$ mkdir -p ~/Maildir/my_imap
$ mbsync -aC
$ mu init --maildir=~/Maildir/my_imap
$ mu index
## How to use mu4e
start emacs, run **M-x mu4e RET** and enjoy, the documentation of mu4e
is well done. Press "U" at mu4e screen to synchronize with imap
A query for mu4e looks like this:
list:misc.openbsd.org flag:unread avahi
This query will search mails having list header "misc.openbsd.org"
and which are unread and which contains "avahi" pattern.
date:20140101..20150215 urgent
This one will looks for mails within date range of 1st january 2014 to
15th february 2015 containing word "urgent".
## Additional notes
The current setup doesn't handle sending mails, I'll write another
article about this. This requires configuring a smtp authentification
and an identify for mu4e.
Also, you may need to tweak mbsync configuration or mu4e
configuration, some settings must be changed depending on the imap
server, this is particuliarly important for deleted mails.