Is there any way to coax Gmail into pushing new-mail notifications into my Linux machine, without using a full-on graphical mail client like Thunderbird?

edit: Thanks for all the responses, but (unless I'm mistaken) these applications all poll, none of them receive notifications pushed from GMail.

Also, I'd prefer a console-based program, as this will be running on a headless server.

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    AFAIK Gmail doesn't push notifications at all, which means all notifiers must poll... but I may be unaware of some enterprise edition feature or other. – Yuval Dec 1 '09 at 6:52
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    Instant notifications is possible using Gmail's free service (Thundebird is capable). I believe the enabling feature is IMAP IDLE. – alfplayer Dec 1 '09 at 20:28
  • Yuval: yea, alfplayer is right. Gmail does push notifications, both to IMAP and when you're in the web interface. – David Wolever Dec 4 '09 at 18:16

There is a program called checkgmail


that will sit in your gnome taskbar. I know there is a plasma widget for KDE


that does something similar, although from what I've read, it might be a little broken.

The program Docky2 has a pretty good gmail notifier built in if you use a compositing window manager like compiz or metacity.


I don't know of any terminal based checkers if you don't have an X11 at all.

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  • The command line equivalent is 'biff' – DaveParillo Nov 30 '09 at 23:30
  • If you're using Ubuntu or another debian-based distro, checkgmail should be in your repository. – DaveParillo Nov 30 '09 at 23:34
  • Do all of this clients support push (instant) notifications? I've only found Thunderbird to have this capability. – alfplayer Nov 30 '09 at 23:48
  • As alfpayer said, all of these (including, as far as I can tell, checkgmail) are polling not push based. – David Wolever Dec 1 '09 at 1:06
  • Ah, good point. Sorry, I didn't catch that. – Katerberg Dec 1 '09 at 17:22

Mail Notification supports Gmail. It can check multiple accounts simultaneously so you can also use it to notify you of new mail in Evolution, Thunderbird or IMAP and POP accounts.

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  • Ah, thanks – this one does support push notifications… But, alas (and this is my fault, I'm sorry) I didn't make it clear that I wanted an X11-free app. – David Wolever Dec 1 '09 at 1:18

Is this any good?


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  • That does look nice, but unfortunately it uses polling, not server-push, too. – David Wolever Dec 1 '09 at 1:09

I know this question is quite old but it came up in my search and I thought I'd update. Evolution now supports IMAP+ or IMAPx which enables IMAP IDLE, and so gmail can push mail to it.


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Gmail doesn't push. You can receive an atom feed:

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If you are on Ubuntu, try GmailWatcher;


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  • What is ppa:loneowais/ppa? – David Wolever Sep 27 '10 at 14:17
  • On Ubuntu you can add this to your list of software sources and you'll get automatic updates for all the apps present in this repository. – Owais Lone Sep 28 '10 at 13:48

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