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.

  • 4
    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, 2009 at 6:52
  • 1
    Instant notifications is possible using Gmail's free service (Thundebird is capable). I believe the enabling feature is IMAP IDLE.
    – alfplayer
    Dec 1, 2009 at 20:28
  • Yuval: yea, alfplayer is right. Gmail does push notifications, both to IMAP and when you're in the web interface. Dec 4, 2009 at 18:16

6 Answers 6


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.

  • The command line equivalent is 'biff' Nov 30, 2009 at 23:30
  • If you're using Ubuntu or another debian-based distro, checkgmail should be in your repository. Nov 30, 2009 at 23:34
  • Do all of this clients support push (instant) notifications? I've only found Thunderbird to have this capability.
    – alfplayer
    Nov 30, 2009 at 23:48
  • As alfpayer said, all of these (including, as far as I can tell, checkgmail) are polling not push based. Dec 1, 2009 at 1:06
  • Ah, good point. Sorry, I didn't catch that.
    – Katerberg
    Dec 1, 2009 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.

  • 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. Dec 1, 2009 at 1:18

Is this any good?


  • That does look nice, but unfortunately it uses polling, not server-push, too. Dec 1, 2009 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.



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


If you are on Ubuntu, try GmailWatcher;


  • What is ppa:loneowais/ppa? Sep 27, 2010 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, 2010 at 13:48

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