Software

Claws Mail: What an email client SHOULD be like

Jack Wallen has been around the block with open source applications. And it's not often that one will sneak out of the woodwork and win him over as quickly as Claws Mail did. Can you be persuaded to give up your email client for the powerful, flexible, reliable Claws Mail?

Recently, I did a series of articles covering the Claws Mail email client. When I first started writing them, I figured it would be another one of those applications I would use during the writing and then I would put it away and go back to my usual Thunderbird. I was surprised to find out, after I had completed the series, that I didn't want to go back to Thunderbird. I had found an email client that made Thunderbird look weak, slow, inflexible, and unreliable. In its place was a powerful, flexible, fast, reliable email client that epitomizes what good software should be: Powerful enough to entice power-users, yet easy enough for newbies.

Claws Mail is all of that, but why would you want to switch from your standard email client to Claws mail? Let me see if I can win you over to the dark side.

It's fast: Claws Mail has to be one of the fastest to open applications I have seen in the Linux operating system. In the time it takes Thunderbird to open I can open and already be composing a new email in Claws Mail. It really is that fast. It's flexible: Claws Mail does what you want it to do. If there is a behavior you do not like, you can change it. And you're not limited to the few configurations you have in Thunderbird. Claws Mail has NUMEROUS options that can be tooled precisely to fit your needs. You can even create templates in Claws Mail to handle the formatting of your new mail, replies, and forwards. It's extensible: Claws Mail also has an easy-to-use plugin system that allows you to include many other features. Yes, Thunderbird has add-ons galore, but with Thunderbird you are pretty much limited to dd-ons to extend the features of the email client. With Claws Mail you can use plugins, templates, scripts, actions, pre/post processing rules, filters, you name it. It's reliable: Not only does Claws Mail not crash, it can do such things as create archives of your folders in case of a crash (or in case you want to migrate inboxes from one installation to another.) The archiving feature makes email backup as simple as it gets. Claws Mail also uses the MH inbox format, instead of the older, less reliable mbox format. Interested yet?

If I have piqued your interest you are in luck; installing Claws Mail is simple. All you need to do is open up your Add/Remove Software utility, do a search for "claws," check all of the related software you want to install (there are numerous additional pieces of software you might want), and click Apply to install. Or, if you prefer the command line, you can issue the command:

apt-cache search claws

which will list all of the possible applications you can install.

Once Claws Mail is installed you will most likely spend a good amount of time tinkering with it's many options.

How does it rank among all Linux clients?

I have used the following email clients extensively with the Linux operating system:

  • Thunderbird
  • Evolution
  • Balsa
  • Pine
  • Alpine
  • Mutt
  • Elm
  • KMail

There have been other clients that received just a brief look which aren't really worth inclusion. But of the above list I would easily put Claws Mail at the top for usability, speed, reliability, and flexibility. And I have no doubt that Claws Mail will remain atop that list for a long, long time.

Final thoughts

I would hope that many of you will give Claws Mail a try. I am confident that when you do try this fantastic client, you will most likely not look back to the application you left behind.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

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