9 of the Best Email Clients for Linux

Linux has plenty of email clients to choose from. Here are the best you can use today.

Linux Email 00 Featured Image

Email is the bread and butter of electronic communication. It is simple, efficient and programmable. If you are looking for a desktop email client for Linux, there are many around. Here are some of the best email clients available for Linux.

1. Mozilla Thunderbird

Mozilla’s Thunderbird is the most popular email client available for Linux – for good reason. Thunderbird is both intuitive and simple to use and a whole productivity suite rolled into one.

Linux Email 03 Thunderbird Welcome

Thunderbird can handle your email alongside your calendar, your To-Do lists and even your USENET groups. Not only that, Thunderbird can also has a number of advanced features such as:

  • The ability to have basic frequency graphs for email headers that can be used for a basic id.
  • Thunderbird also allows you to maintain a “message archive,” which is part of your email directory that is compressed and sorted differently than your standard e-mail inbox. This is useful if you like having a copy of every correspondence.

This makes it an integrated and tightly packed program that appeals to both the casual and power user.

Installing Thunderbird

Thunderbird is also available in almost every major Linux distribution. For example, you can install it in Debian and Ubuntu using apt:

For Fedora, use dnf:

In Arch Linux, use pacman:

2. Claws Mail

Claws Mail is a simple and easy-to-use GUI email client. Unlike Thunderbird, it does not have the full suite of additional software alongside it. This is useful if you are already using other software and you only want a client that handles email.

Linux Email 15 Claws Mail Welcome

However, this does not mean that Claws Mail lacks features. It has a good filtering system as well as the ability to connect through USENET. Further, Claws Mail also supports the following features through its plugin system:

  • Email signing and encryption through GnuPG. This is useful if you want to use encryption to send email correspondence securely.
  • The ability to use your laptop LED lights for email notification. In some supported laptops, Claws Mails can use its hardware indicators, such as the battery light, to see whether you have received a new email.

Installing Claws Mail

Claws Mail is available in all Linux distributions. For example, you can install Claws Mail in Debian and Ubuntu using apt:

For Fedora, use dnf:

In Arch Linux, use pacman:

3. Geary

Geary is a simple and intuitive email client for Linux. Unlike the previous clients, it is designed to be as simple as possible.

Linux Email 29 Geary Welcome

This means Geary does not have any other feature other than receiving and sending email. It also prioritizes ease of use above all else, which makes setting Geary up easier than doing the same with Thunderbird and Claws Mail.

It makes Geary the perfect solution if you want an easy-to-use and easy-to-deploy email client that anyone can use.

Installing Geary

Geary is a part of the GNOME Desktop Environment. Despite that, you can still install it as a separate package.

For example, you can install Geary in Debian and Ubuntu using apt:

For Fedora, use dnf:

In Arch Linux, use pacman:

4. Evolution

Evolution is the default email client in GNOME desktop environments. If you are using Ubuntu, chances are you already have Evolution installed in your system.

Linux Email 56 Evolution Welcome

Unlike Geary, Evolution is more like Claws Mail. Some of Evolution’s features include the following:

  • Built-in GnuPG support for encrypted emails makes Evolution useful for people who are concerned about security in their correspondence.
  • Evolution is also fully compatible with LibreOffice, allowing you to easily link data from Evolution to your documents and spreadsheets in LibreOffice.

Installing Evolution

As discussed above, Evolution is a part of the GNOME desktop environment. If you either use Ubuntu or have installed GNOME in your distribution, chances are, you already have Evolution installed.

However, if, for some reason, Evolution was not installed by default or you are using a different desktop environment, you can install this email client through your package repository.

You can install Evolution in Debian and Ubuntu using apt:

For Fedora, use dnf:

In Arch Linux, use pacman:

5. Balsa

Balsa is a lightweight and simple email client also designed for GNOME desktop environments. Unlike the previous two, however, Balsa is one of the oldest actively developed GUI email client in use.

Linux Email 57 Balsa Welcome

The code for Balsa is very mature and less prone for issues and is especially useful for people who take their security seriously and want to have a highly stable email client.

Furthermore, Balsa allows for mail retrieval through the local mbox, which is especially useful if you want to use an external mail retrieval service such as mbsync or OfflineIMAP. Other than that, Balsa also supports the following features:

  • Full support for a local Mail Transfer Agent so that you can use a program such as msmtp or Sendmail to hold your emails in a cache and only send them when you are online.
  • The ability for nested inboxes is especially useful if you are using multiple e-mail accounts and want to have one “account” to maintain all of them.

Installing Balsa

Due to its age, Balsa is available for almost all Linux distributions. You can install Balsa in Debian and Ubuntu using apt:

For Fedora, use dnf:

In Arch Linux, use pacman:

6. Seamonkey

Seamonkey was originally a Mozilla all-in-one productivity suite. It was forked around 2005 when the Mozilla Foundation decided to drop support for its suite in favor of focusing on Firefox and Thunderbird. Since then, Seamonkey has been developed by the Mozilla community and has seen improvements over the years.

Linux Email 58 Seamonkey Welcome

The Seamonkey suite included an email client, USENET reader, web browser, calendar application and IRC client. It’s useful for people who are interested in using a single client to do all of their online activities. Despite that, Seamonkey is still a capable and powerful email client.

The most notable features of Seamonkey’s email client are:

  • Seamonkey supports full custom email views and tags, which is useful if you want the emails you receive to be sorted, filtered and arranged when they first arrive.
  • Seamonkey has one of the best email filtering features today. It automatically adjusts its filter based on what you read. As you use Seamonkey, its filtering feature will only get better.

Installing Seamonkey

Seamonkey is one of the most popular productivity suites in Linux today, and most distributions ship Seamonkey in their repositories.

You can install Seamonkey in Ubuntu and Debian using apt:

For Fedora, use dnf:

In Arch Linux, use pacman:

7. Sylpheed

Sylpheed is a lightweight and simple email client written in GTK. Its main design focus is to be able to have an easy-to-use and highly stable email client.

Linux Email 59 Sylpheed Welcome

Further, Sylpheed is also quick and light and can run in the most basic of computers, which makes it suitable for people who want to use their older machines for their computing needs.

Aside from those, Sylpheed also has a number of notable features:

  • Sylpheed has one of the best with Japanese character support for email clients. It’s useful for Japanese-speaking users who want to be able to create and receive in email using the full Japanese character set.
  • Sylpheed also has a highly reliable and redundant email storage system. It is tested to run and load up to thousands of emails with no slowdown and loss of data.

Installing Sylpheed

Sylpheed is available for almost all Linux distributions. You can install Sylpheed in Ubuntu and Debian using apt:

For Fedora, use dnf:

In Arch Linux, use pacman:

8. Alpine

Alpine is a simple yet powerful email client for the Terminal. It focuses on being an easy-to-deploy terminal-based client. Alpine is also lightweight, which means it could run on almost any system – even without a graphics display.

Linux Email 37 Alpine Welcome

Alpine is useful for users who are comfortable with the command line and do not want to fiddle with the configuration of their email client too much.

Despite its simplicity, however, Alpine still boasts a number of notable features under its belt:

  • Aside from reading emails, you can use Alpine to browse USENET, which is useful if you are coming from a GUI email client that already supports USENET, such as Thunderbird.
  • Alpine also supports the ability to attach signatures with GnuPG, making it easy to send signed messages from the comfort of your terminal.
  • Alpine has a powerful scoring system for filtering both emails and USENET posts. It allows you to set regex-based conditions in all of the email headers you receive.

Installing Alpine

For the most part, you can install Alpine from your distribution’s package manager. You can install it in Debian and Ubuntu using apt:

In Fedora, use dnf:

In Arch Linux, use pacman:

9. Neomutt

Neomutt is an ultra-lightweight and powerful email client for Linux. It is designed for power users who either store all their email or receive many on a daily basis.

Linux Email 52 Neomutt Welcome

Unlike Alpine, however, Neomutt can only handle local email, so you need to provide both a Mail Delivery Agent, such as mbsync, and a Mail Transfer Agent, such as msmtp.

Despite that, Neomutt is still a good email client that packs a lot of features. The most notable among these are:

  • Unlike Alpine, it supports threaded email view, which makes following a long email thread convenient and easy.
  • Neomutt also supports custom tags and the ability to use external programs to manage tags for the email it receives.
  • It can also handle compressed mailbox files, which is useful if you are storing all of your email and you want to easily access an old archived thread.

Installing Neomutt

Neomutt is available in all Linux distributions. You can install Neomutt in Debian and Ubuntu using apt:

For Fedora, use dnf:

In Arch Linux, use pacman:

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why is Geary not starting up?

This is most likely because the gnome-keyring package was not installed in the computer. Geary is intended to run on a GNOME desktop. Because of that, Geary assumes things such as the presence of gnome-keyring and that it is already running, when Geary is run.

2. Which email client should I use?

This is a highly subjective question. It will largely depend on what you want to achieve with your emails. If you are looking for a complete out of the box experience, you are better served with Seamonkey or Thunderbird.

If, on the other hand, you are looking for a quick and easy email client, it may be more appropriate for you to install Geary and Sylpheed.

Further, if you are looking for an email client that you can tweak, customize and optimize to perform to its absolute potential rather than using a minimal client such as Alpine, Neomutt would be more appropriate.

Image credit: Unsplash

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