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 queries.
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.
On OpenBSD you need to install 2 packages:
# pkg_add mu4e isync
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 SSLType IMAPS 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")
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 index --maildir=~/Maildir/my_imap
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 server.
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.
This one will looks for mails within date range of 1st january 2014 to 15th february 2015 containing word “urgent”.
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.