Looking for a new email client on Linux? Blue Mail has you covered.
If you've ever used Blue Mail on Android, then you are aware that it's one very capable email client. In fact, it made my list of Top 5 email clients for Android. This particular mobile email app has plenty to offer, so when it was announced that the client was coming to Linux, needless to say, I was excited. I'm always on the lookout for a new email client, as I depend on email as my primary means of communication. Although the app itself isn't open source, having yet another option available on the open source platform is always a good thing.
But does it stand up to its mobile counterpart?
In a word, yes. But as a desktop client, Blue Mail does have one particular shortcoming. Let's dive in and see what it has to offer, and how it can improve.
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How to install Blue Mail
First off, you need to know that Blue Mail is only available as a snap package for Linux. So no matter what distribution you use, it must support the snap package format. I'll demonstrate the installation on Pop!_OS 19.04.
To install Blue Mail on Linux, open a terminal window and issue the command:
sudo snap install bluemail
If you find your distribution doesn't have snap, you can install it with the command:
sudo apt-get install snapd -y
Once snap is enabled, run the install command and Blue Mail will be ready to go.
How to configure an account in Blue Mail
When you first run Blue Mail, you'll be prompted to configure an email account. This is where it gets tricky. As you can see (in Figure A), Blue Mail offers a list of supported clients. If you scroll through that list, you'll not find IMAP, Exchange, or POP3 anywhere.
From that list you can choose:
- AOL (Why? I have no idea)
- Yahoo (US/UK)
- Hotmail (US/UK)
What do you do if you use an IMAP, Exchange, or POP3 account? You click Full Provider List. From that new window (Figure B), click Other Email.
From there, you can then walk through the easy to use Wizard. If you uncheck the box for Automatic, you can then select if your account is IMAP, Exchange, or POP3 (Figure C).
Once you have your account configured, you'll find yourself in the main Blue Mail window (Figure D), where you can start interacting with your incoming missives.
Blue Mail doesn't offer an expansive set of configuration options, nor does it include a plugin feature or the ability to integrate a calendar. This is straight up email and nothing more. But it works really well. The layout is well-designed and clean, and the app is very responsive and stable.
One handy trick that power-users will appreciate is the Multi-Edit feature. Click the three dots above the left pane and then click Multi-Edit. This will then allow you to select as many emails as you like (or all of them) and then act accordingly--Move, Delete, Archive, Mark as Read, or Star (Figure E).
The Blue Mail blues
The one issue Blue Mail will certainly face is that most desktop users aren't often looking for a one-trick pony. Instead, they want groupware, such as Evolution or Outlook. Users want to be able to manage email, calendars, clients, to-dos, and more in one window. This is where Blue Mail falters.
Personally, I don't want all that integration. I'm one of those who prefers to have an email client be just that--email. My calendar of choice is Google Calendar, and even with Thunderbird's ability to integrate with Google's offering, I still don't use the Lightning extension.
But for those seeking for an alternative email-only client on Linux, Blue Mail might be just what you're looking for.
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