Thirty Days of Mutt - Day 3

January 16, 2021

Mutt is attractive to me for several reasons. And there are some things about it that detract from it as a everyday email solution.

Customization

Nearly every facet of mutt can be customized to your liking. Colors, layout, key bindings, even the tools used to receive or send emails can be selected. Setting up mutt and getting everything just the way you want is no minor task. I dare say your understanding of how email is sent, received, and stored will improve as a result of installing mutt.

Encryption

Email encryption ought to be included in every email client. It should be dead simple to use. Unfortunately it is neither wide spread nor easy to use. However, once you put in a little effort to add encryption to mutt, using for emails is very simple. While it may not be a true first class citizen, as a feature, it is very close to that. Too many other email clients ignore encryption altogether, or only provide it through 3rd-party add-on libraries.

Email in a Single Place

My mutt install is on a single computer. I have my home network setup to allow me to access this computer from anywhere. Mutt (and weechat for that matter) are always running on this computer. By running them inside a [tmux[(https://github.com/tmux/tmux “tmux”) session I can remotely access the computer, attach to tmux and get to my mail. I can be attached to that tmux session from multiple computers at the same time. All are seeing the exact same running process. Instead of having my mail synced to every computer, it is synced to one computer, where I can access it.

Nerd Quotient

Finally I like mutt since it is nerdy. Getting it up and running is a bit of a hurdle. Learning the ins and outs and adapting to it are another hurdle. As with anything difficult, there is satisfaction is mastering it.

Requires Dedication

On the minus side of the equation, mutt does require more effort and more dedication than using Gmail, say. My mutt setup consists of mutt, mbsync, msmtp, GnuPG, and urlview. This doesn’t include the Ubuntu OS it’s running or, or some ancillary tools like tmux and Neovim. I guess you could say mutt is like a kit car. One that requires an effort to construct, and that will require on-going maintenance to keep in good running condition.

HTML Emails

Reading emails that are basically web pages is cumbersome at best. Some HTML emails are surprisingly easy to view and read. Others expose horridly complex, obfuscating HTML, wrapped around very little actual content.

If there is going to be one reason I don’t keep mutt as my email, it will be the difficulties around HTML email,

Author's profile picture

Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.