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I'd like to use an IMAP client to have an offline backup and access to Gmail. Now I use mutt, but I am not very satisfied. What is the best IMAP client for Linux to use with Gmail?

I want it to be

  • multithreaded and responsive even on large folders
  • integrated with Gmail spam filtering (report spam) and archive features
  • capable to deal with Gmail folder names (which depend on language settings in Gmail!)
  • using some standard local storage (maildir, mh, whatever)
  • with quick local search (or integrated with any desktop search engine)
  • good and convenient in offline mode
  • aware of various i18n issues

Any suggestion?

Is there any contact synchronization tool except GCALDaemon?

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up vote 12 down vote accepted

Thunderbird should be good, if you are intending to use a separate email client

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I've just found there is gContactSync for Thunderbird. This might be useful. – sastanin Oct 6 '09 at 13:39

Gmail is a tad special. Either you want to use insert your favorite IMAP client here or you don't. The assumption for using gmail is that you'll be using the web interface. If you want fast offline access for it with all the gmail features, I'm pretty sure that's why they invented gears and maintain an offline gmail project.

Update: Okay so lets run down the requirements:

  • multithreaded and responsive even on large folders [Check, relies on Firefox for this]
  • integrated with Gmail spam filtering (report spam) and archive features [Check, it basically is Gmail]
  • capable to deal with Gmail folder names (which depend on language settings in Gmail!) [Check, ditto]
  • using some standard local storage (maildir, mh, whatever) [Sorry, not with this, but does it matter if you get all the other points?]
  • with quick local search (or integrated with any desktop search engine) [Use Google Desktop or the regular Gmail search in offline mode.]
  • good and convenient in offline mode [Check, It really works, you even get a desktop icon]
  • aware of various i18n issues [Check, only in so far that Gmail does]

Bonus, There's a spotty connection mode that gives you like-live usage with buffering for inconsistent internet responsiveness.

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What format do Gears save e-mail as? – sastanin Oct 8 '09 at 10:17
Gears uses an SQLite database to store files locally, if I recall right – dbr Oct 8 '09 at 17:18

Apart of Thunderbird i found Claws-mail, which was quite convenient in the matter of memory consumption for my old laptop. It's available under yum in Fedora repositories (should be in apt-get in Debians as well).

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The last time I used claws it wasn't multithreaded, is it responsive when opening a large folder? – sastanin Oct 6 '09 at 13:32
My MH folders contain thousands of e-mails and it works OK. Searching is slow. – Nowaker Mar 31 '12 at 12:44

Thunderbird is probably the easiest way to achieve this, just make sure you set it up to fully download all emails/attachments, not just the message headers (from here):

An IMAP account normally only downloads headers to the hard disk when checking for new mail. Your account would have an "Inbox.msf" file but no "Inbox" file. When you read a message it is fetched from the server unless its already cached in memory. If you want to maintain a local synched copy of a remote folder use "Tools -> Account Settings -> Offline & Disk space -> Offline -> Select folders for offline use". That will store/update a copy of the selected remote folder as an mbox file, which you can only see when working offline.

..but, since you mention mutt, perhaps Fetchmail?

Fetchmail retrieves mail from remote mail servers and forwards it via SMTP, so it can then be read by normal mail user agents such as mutt, elm(1) or BSD Mail. It allows all your system MTA's filtering, forwarding, and aliasing facilities to work just as they would on normal mail.

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I'd like to be able to have the same folder structure in the web interface and in the mail client. I didn't use fetchmail for a long time, the last time I used it it was for POP access. Does it allow not only to retrieve mail, but also update remote IMAP folders (move/label messages)? – sastanin Oct 6 '09 at 13:43
It does support IMAP, and there is an argument -r <name> | --folder <name> which will grab a specific folder (instead of the inbox). There doesn't seem to be a "grab all folders" flag, so you'd either need to hardcode the folder names, or write a script to dynamically do this, which is rather annoying.. – dbr Oct 6 '09 at 17:33
Thank you, dbr. – sastanin Oct 8 '09 at 10:15

I switched from Thunderbird to Evolution yesterday, and switched back to Thunderbird this morning, since apparently there's no way in Evolution to delete attachments from emails. My main issue with Thunderbird is that management of large attachments is unefficient (but at least they can be deleted).

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Thanks Julien. Few months after asking this question I use Thunderbird mostly too. – sastanin Jan 26 '10 at 11:23

I voted Thunderbird, but I'd also add Evolution, specially if you're running a Gnome desktop.

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I use Evolution for GMail (IMAP) and Google Calendar since a while and like it though sometimes it shows some strange behavior. I.E. there is an empty unnamed folder inside the folder structure. Marking mails read doesn't mark them in the corresponding folder (label). – släcker Oct 6 '09 at 15:36

I have used both Evolution and KMail and never had a problem using gmail's IMAP with either one. Kmail got a bit 'twitchier' after the move to KDE4, but it's mostly settled down now.

I'm using Evolution right now on Ubuntu, no complaints.

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OK. Now I try Thunderbird, if it's not to my taste, I'll try Evolution next. – sastanin Oct 8 '09 at 10:18

Here is a link to a webpage that rates options and has a very good feature comparison chart at the bottom. From a personal view, I think a look at ClawsMail is worth the time.

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