8 Best E-mail Clients for Linux

Managing e-mail is made easy with the use of e-mail client, also known as e-mail reader. Some e-mail clients can also function as feed reader and can support plug-ins and themes.

When it comes to picking the right e-mail client, Linux users have tons of choices. I have here a list of 8 of the best free and open source e-mail clients that are available for Linux.

Mozilla Thunderbird

Mozilla Thunderbird is my favorite e-mail and news client. I love it for its speed and simplicity, and for its all important features like:

*Message management - Thunderbird can manage multiple e-mail, newsgroup and RSS accounts and supports multiple identities within accounts;
*Junk filtering - Thunderbird incorporates a Bayesian spam filter, a whitelist based on the included address book, and can also understand classifications by server-based filters such as SpamAssassin.
*Standards support - Thunderbird supports POP and IMAP. It also supports LDAP address completion. The built-in RSS/Atom reader can also be used as a simple news aggregator.
*Security - Thunderbird provides enterprise and government-grade security features such as SSL/TLS connections to IMAP and SMTP servers.

Evolution combines e-mail, calendar, address book, and task list management functions. It has been an official part of GNOME and its development is sponsored primarily by Novell.

Its user interface and functionality are similar to Microsoft Outlook. It has some distinguishing features: iCalendar support, full-text indexing of all incoming mail, powerful email filters writable in Scheme, and a "Search Folders" feature (i.e., saved searches that look like normal mail folders).

Evolution can be connected to a Microsoft Exchange Server using its web interface and an Evolution add-on formerly called Ximian Connector. Using gnome-pilot, it may be synchronized with Palm Pilot devices, and OpenSync enables it to be synchronized with mobile phones and other PDAs.

KMail is the e-mail client of the KDE desktop environment. It supports folders, filtering, viewing HTML mail, and international character sets. It can handle IMAP, dIMAP, POP3, and local mailboxes for incoming mail. It can send mail via SMTP or sendmail. KMail allows manual filtering of spam directly on the mail server, a very interesting feature for dial-up users. Emails that exceed some threshold size (standard is 50 kb, but it may be set any value) are not automatically copied to the local computer. With "get, decide later, delete" options, KMail lists them but does not download the whole message, which allows the deletion of spam and over-sized messages without wasting time.

Mutt is a text-based e-mail client for Unix-like systems. It was originally written by Michael Elkins in 1995 and released under the GNU General Public License.

Mutt is a pure Mail User Agent (MUA) and cannot send e-mail in isolation. To do this, it needs to communicate with a Mail Transfer Agent (MTA) using, for example, the common Unix sendmail interface. More recently, SMTP support has been added. It also relies on external tools for composing and filtering messages. Also in latest Mutt versions you can use smtp_url config vars to send your mail directly from Mutt.

The mutt slogan is "All mail clients suck. This one just sucks less". The authors of mutt claim that while all e-mail clients are flawed, mutt has fewer flaws than any of the competition.

Alpine, the replacement of Pine, is a fast, easy to use email client based on the Pine Message System. Alpine boasts that it is suitable for both inexperienced email users and the most demanding of power users. Alpine is developed at the University of Washington, as was Pine before it. Alpine can be learned by exploration and the use of context-sensitive help. The user interface is highly customizable.

Balsa is a lightweight e-mail client for GNOME. It has a graphical front end, support for MIME attachments coming and going, directly supports POP3 and IMAP protocols. It has a spell checker and direct support for PGP and GPG for encryption. It has some basic filtering capabilities, and natively supports several e-mail storage protocols. It also has some internationalization support, including Japanese fonts.

Balsa builds on top of these other open source packages: GNOME, libtool, libESMTP, aspell, and gmime. It also can optionally use libgtkhtml for HTML rendering, libkrb5 for GSS, and openldap for LDAP functionality. It can optionally be configured to use gpg-error and gpgme libraries.

Claws Mail
Claws Mail, (formerly known as Sylpheed-Claws), is a GTK+-based e-mail client and news client for Linux. It started in April 2001 as the development version of Sylpheed, where new features could be tested and debugged, but evolved enough to now be a completely separate program. It forked from Sylpheed in August 2005.

Claws Mail provides the following features:

* Search and filtering
* Security (GPG, SSL, anti-phishing)
* Import/export from standard formats
* External editor
* Templates
* Foldable quotes
* Per-folder preferences
* Face, X-Face support
* Customisable toolbars
* Themes support
* Plugins

Gnus is a message reader running under GNU Emacs and XEmacs. It supports reading and composing both news and e-mail.

Some Gnus features:

* simple or advanced mail splitting (automatic sorting of incoming mail to user-defined groups)
* incoming mail can be set to expire instead of just plain deletion
* custom posting styles (eg. From address, .signature etc) for each group
* virtual groups (e.g., directory on the computer can be read as a group)
* an advanced message scoring system
* user-defined hooks for almost any method (in emacs lisp)
* many of the parameters (e.g., expiration, posting style) can be specified individually for all of the groups


  1. you missed "pine", one of the old time best

    Anyways, list looks good


  2. Kmail is my favorite, only because I like 100,000 configurable features. I've used Thunderbird before, but unfortunately the inability, or required (alltray) application to dock the window, made me move away. Also if a ssl certificate can't be verified, or fails, it asks you EVERY single time you check your mail, which is incredibly annoying. Even without Kontact, KMail takes the big prize in my opinion.

  3. AnonymousJuly 31, 2008

    I personally like Sylpheed. The reason why I started using it is because its fast and does not start more than one process. While I am sure that Evolution works these days, it sucked a few years back which made me switch to Sylpheed.

  4. AnonymousJuly 31, 2008

    I use Opera's mail client. I like it because it's running within the same process as the browser, within the same window and it's just simple an fast ;-)

  5. @ nikesh jauhari:

    "you missed "pine", one of the old time best"

    I think that's what Alpine is supposed to be---a free replacement (by Univ. of Washington itself!) for Pine. When the authors (or at least, the supporting organization) themselves release a free replacement for a nonfree software, what's the reason to continue to pretend that the nonfree software has any life left in it?

  6. AnonymousJuly 31, 2008

    @crazybot: You are right about unverified SSL certs in Thunderbird. It is really painful to keep getting warnings all the time. Thankfully, I found this gem of an add-on that remembers your selection and does not prompt you any more:
    That's why I love Mozilla products. Extensibility via add-ons like this is priceless.

  7. AnonymousJuly 31, 2008

    Yes, because I really wanted to know what the seven second-best email clients were.

  8. AnonymousJuly 31, 2008

    Mulberry, formerly a commercial client, was released under the Apache license last year. It has excellent IMAP support. I used to use it as a complement to Pine, but have switched to alpine+thunderbird. Still, Mulberry has some nice things that other programs lack (IMSP support to save preferences, integrated calendaring, etc.).

  9. AnonymousJuly 31, 2008

    Opera-mail is the only client that renders all of my html-newsletters correctly. Thunderbird, evolution, kmail, etc. all make mistakes. Especially the 'title' TAG.

  10. @erichansa

    I will check that out. I run gnome, so running kmail is odd at times. And I really have never liked evolution. There is a great addon that will embed sunbird in thunderbird, and sync it to google calendar which is nice.

  11. AnonymousJuly 31, 2008

    Mutt now supports sending email with smpt (with or without ssl). It can also receive email using pop3 (also with or without ssl).

  12. Have you ever tought to use a webmail as your linux mail client? Check out this:

  13. You left out SeaMonkey, formerly known as the Mozilla Suite. I prefer it over a combination of, for example, Firefox and Thunderbird, because of its integrated browser and e-mail/news client.

  14. I agree with you, Thunderbird is still the best email client.

  15. @novakyu
    "themselves release a free replacement for a nonfree software"
    wtf are you talking about? since when is pine not "free"? it too was developed by uw.

  16. I can not live without Opera email client. It is easy and I can send links to my friend in less than a second. It has never failed to me. It is just perfect.

  17. At work it is really important that the mail client be able to look up mail addresses via our LDAP servers. I have used evolution for years because it supports this, but is flakey at times. I think Netscape does this also, but what about the others you mention?

  18. Outlook under Wine and everything is going to be alright :-).

  19. Outlook under Wine? Please. Use Windows if you love it that much. I'm sick of people who install Linux, bash MS, and then the next thing they do is install Wine. Make a choice. Stop using Linux as a free version of Windows.

  20. all linux clients really sux, look at The Bat.. there is no any imitation of this powerfull and the best email client ever and it is really sad. I like linux but emails.. every linux client has some good features but no one has everything

  21. I totally agree with cyKi. I was on windows but ever loved linux since i discovered and used it for years from 1990. After a long period in windows I finally came back to linux. I can say that regarding the mail clients none of the linux clients can be compared with The Bat! which is imho the best mail client under windows. Evolution, thunderbird kmail maybe are good clients but are not so flexible neither have the features the bat has. I decided to use claws-mail which is very good and not heavy and of course lacks a lot of features the bat has. But if linux doesn't have The Bat there is something The Bat! and in general Windows environment lacks, wich is the freedom of the whole system in which I work and in this freedom the discovery that, after all, it is not so necessary to have have a program with all the features of other programs; I can live very very well with what I have, wich is of high quality, because in general aims more at the essential and necessary and, if time remains, can add some other feature. This sense of freedom has no price a make me feel good.

    Gian Paolo

  22. What I really hate about linux is that inorder to use a quality application, I usually have to make a choice between kde/gnome, or be burdened by the extra libraries. Developers don't seems to think that users may not side with their views on a particular desktop.

  23. "Outlook under Wine? Please. Use Windows if you love it that much. I'm sick of people who install Linux, bash MS, and then the next thing they do is install Wine. Make a choice. Stop using Linux as a free version of Windows."

    I DO HAVE INSTALLED WINE because two great apps I need are only for W$. Not to mention I need to run a VMwared XP version to have fully support of printer and scanner on x86-64 (I have two Epson, one all-in-1 and the other DVD printer). Back when I still used Outlook 2007 I remembered having serious stability issues -SHAME ON YOU MICROSOFT, YOU CODE THE OPERATING SYSTEM, YOU CODE THE APPLICATIONS TO RUN ON IT AND THEY ARE BUGGY? SHAME ON YOU BASTARDS!!!!- but Outlook workflow is COOL, even Vista/W7 Windows Mail is good.

    "What I really hate about linux is that inorder to use a quality application, I usually have to make a choice between kde/gnome, or be burdened by the extra libraries. Developers don't seems to think that users may not side with their views on a particular desktop."

    Came here looking for a good replace of Evolution, may be Kmail, don't know, just download f*cking 300 mb of KDE libraries in my VMware Ubuntu 9.10 amd64 to try it lol xD

    I don't know, may be because I'm nearly 32 and I'm here from the 8-bit times -had lot of 8-bit machines back in time, Spectrum, Commodore, MSX, Atari... sadly didn't get any Amstrad never :'(- but I'm a very pragmatic man now.

    We Linuxers have the *GIFT* of having a bunch of communities who develops GUIs so why to flame any of them? If you have a modern computer, mine's not so modern being a QuadCore 2.4 8400 w/4gigs RAM, you can have the best of every world.
    While I personally support FLOSS and most important the FSF and the GNU movement, I DO HAVE INSTALLED AN ATI VIDEO CARD WITH PROPIETARY DRIVERS... and what? yeah, what? yeaah, what do you have to say about that?

    Also I have some KDE applications running in my GNOME Linux -K3b, Dolphin and Konsole, this one to have the cool terminal integration in Dolphin-, AND WHAT?

    If I don't use KDE a lot, like I dropped Opera for Chromium -Chrome sucks- is primarily because QT4 have a very BLURRY FONTS no matter anti-aliased is checked off, compared with the sharp look of GNOME, well, the decision is easy. I can talk about the hogness of the KDE suite and the "canned" just like W$ I feel the kickstart menu -Lancelot is way-out a better alternative- but I think everything lays down as a matter of taste.

    So, as Sabayon slogan says "Open your source, OPEN YOUR MIND", don't play the fool, that's what evil corporate needs/want - just like our governments =D


  24. AnonymousJuly 05, 2011

    What a shame that Thunderbird is saddled with the eternal wordwrap problem, inserting all those PRE tags so that you spend a good part of your day getting arthritis in your fingers and you scroll from one end of a line to where it ends, a yard away.

    Claws, perhaps because of teh way it reads headers (?) can be very slow.

  25. I love linux and detest windows, but I have to say, the mail clients on linux really suck! Windows has some great ones, The Bat, Eudora, Pegasus, to name a few, but linux has nothing to match the power and features of these.

    I was using The Bat on windows and had no option but to install it on linux through wine after trying many of the linux mail client offerings.

    The lastest mail client I tried on Linux was Kmail. Initially, I was thrilled with it. It even managed to import my email directly from The Bat. I loved the way it integrates using Kontact but then after about a month of using it, disaster struck!

    I experienced hard drive failure and had to replace my drive and restore my files from an image of my hard drive taken a few days earlier. The drive restoration happened flawlessly. I guess the only way to tell that anything had happened would be by comparing the UUID's of the two drives.

    When I started Kmail, all of my IMAP accounts had vanished! All of my many message filters had also vanished! My custom toolbar buttons, also gone. My favourite folders, forgotten! It's a good thing I still had the mail on the server since I was using (D)IMAP and might easily have chosen to delete it from the server thinking that my offline archive was safe.

    I tried, copying my Kmail directory and other related files from my backup, back into my profile. Before opening Kmail, I would verify that the rules existed in the config files and the mail existed in the mail directories, but the second I opened Kmail, Kmail would wipe them all out!

    There's noway, I can use a client that can do that. I'm not going to rebuild my several hundren message filters everytime something goes a little wrong, I upgrade my hard drive or replace my computer.

    I therefore have no choice, but to return to using The Bat on wine. I'm actually about to pay to upgrade from v3 to v5.

    If it costs money to make a mailclient, I don't mind paying. I just want a client that's great and is written for Linux. So why isn't there one? Is it because most hard core linux users are too tightwad to pay for something good and therefore they think the rest of us wouldn't pay either? Look at The Bat and how many people pay for it!


  26. I am using thunderbird for years
    and I hate it!

    It is not stable in my idea,
    I feel it has problems with its internal database system

    for example, some times I need to review some emails that I have received 1 year ago

    I do a search, I find them, thunderbird shows part of the email text , it is the one that I want, I click on it to see the full email, and thunderbird doesn't show any thing
    not even the part that it was showing before!!!!

  27. These are cool, but if you're looking for a really lightweight client, to send mail, you should go with RETRO MAIL. It's got some pretty nice features that none of these have.

    You should do a review!

    Get it here, free: