8 Email Clients for Linux

In this post I’m evaluating several email clients. I will describe its features and I will setup a gmail account for testing purposes.

1 – Thunderbird

One of the most used e-mail clients is Thunderbird from the Mozilla project,it has a large community that supports and maintains this email client and it’s included in majors Linux distros. Thunderbird has many features and is very extensible by installing add-ons, similar to the Firefox browser. Thunderbird has many options mostly not used like RSS reader, IM client, etc. perhaps it happens with Outlook too on windows computers , too many features. But in our Linux universe we have some mail clients that are focused on the performance .

2 – Sylpheed

Sylpheed is a lightweight e-mail client that includes several features that can make most users happy and make it easier for them to make them more productive.These features include support for multiple mail accounts and templates that allow you to create custom response messages. They also make it easy to set up filters to organize your emails.
Sylpheed’s mail editor is basic but very functional, with the ability to compose messages in HTML and attach or insert files to messages. If you use GPG for encryption and signed mail with this client you have the possibility to do so. It’s available to download at Linux Mint Software Manager. You may also install it from the command line:

sudo apt install sylpheed


* Quick response
* Nice and sophisticated interface
* Easy configuration, intuitive operation
* Many features
The appearance and interface are similar to some popular e-mail clients for Windows, such as Outlook Express or so. The interface is also designed to emulate the mailers on Emacsen, and almost all commands are accessible with the keyboard.

This is the “new account setup” wizard .


When I configured sylpheed for the first time, I enter a wrong password for my email account and nothing happened . I had to “rebuild folder tree” to enter the password again and the email account was configured.

3 – Balsa

Although Balsa is a minimal and lightweight application, it contains many features that make it very useful. Balsa is simple to set up and has very solid mail handling functions. You can, for example, hide emails that have already been read or have not been answered. Better yet, you can set the toolbar to show only the buttons of the functions you use most often. As you expect, Balsa supports multiple email addresses and protocols like POP and IMAP. It’s available at Linux Mint Software Manager.

Some Balsa’s features include:
* Allowing nested mailboxes
* Printing
* Spell Checking
* Multi-threaded mail retrieval
* MIME support (view images inline, save parts)
* GPE Palmtop, LDAP, LDIF and vCard address book support
* Multiple character sets for composing and reading messages
* File attachments on outgoing messages
* GPG/OpenPGP mail signing and encryption .Support for Kerberos and SSL has been enabled in this package.

Installing it from the command line

sudo apt install  balsa
Configuring Balsa

You’ll need your server information . This is the gmail server setup information , I will use it to setup a gmail account on Balsa:

Incoming Mail (IMAP) Server imap.gmail.com  Requires SSL: Yes  Port: 993
Outgoing Mail (SMTP) Server smtp.gmail.com  Requires SSL: Yes  Requires TLS: Yes (if available) Requires Authentication: Yes

Port for SSL: 465 Port for TLS/STARTTLS: 587

Full Name or Display Name Your name
Account Name, User name, or Email address Your full email address
Password Your Gmail password

This is the Balsa Setup Wizard:


If you prefer to work in a terminal window, then Alpine is lightest mail client you can use. Even if you are not a “terminal-savvy” or are not very skilled at setting up your mail client, Alpine is easy to set up. You can do it inside the application itself, it is not necessary to be editing configuration files. To write the mails in Alpine uses the text editor Pico that is also very simple to use. It’s available at Linux Mint Software Manager.

Alpine also supports several email protocols such as POP, SMTP and IMAP. It also allows you to receive emails within a local network. You can’t send emails in HTML format, but you can read HTML emails that contain only text.

Installing alpine from the command line

sudo apt install alpine

There is a good guide to setup alpine here : https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/alpine . With a little patience you’ll be able to setup alpine.


5 – Evolution

Evolution is a suite full of features. If you are searching for and advanced email client , it is good option which integrates mail, calendar, address book, to-do list and memo tools. Additional features include integration with Exchange servers, newsgroup client, LDAP support and web calendars. Evolution is a graphical application that is part of GNOME, but it works properly on other desktop environments. It’s available at Linux Mint Software Manager.
Setting up a Gmail account was pretty easy, just enter your email address and after you are asked for you password and , That’s all!

See http://projects.gnome.org/evolution/ for more information.


6 – Claws Mail

Claws Mail is a and full-featured mail client formerly called Sylpheed-Claws. It is also extensible using loadable plugins, which can provide support for additional features, like other storage formats, feed reader, calendar management, mail filtering, etc. It’s included in Linux Mint repositories too.

sudo apt install claws-mail

One great thing is Claws detected Sylpheed configuration, and imported it and the client was ready without any manual configuration.


7 – Kmail

Kmail is the mail client for the Kontact suite of the Plasma desktop in KDE, so it will seamlessly integrate with your Plasma desktop is also usable with other Desktop Envionments. KMail supports multiple accounts, mail filtering and email encryption. The program let you configure your workflow too.

I installed Kmail from the Linux Mint Software Manger, but I got a message “Akonadi service is not running” .This services is native on Plasma , but should be run in other environments. It’s a problem porting kmail to other desktops.


8 – Nylas

We discussed Nylas in a previous post. Its a modern email client but not a lightweight one. Read more here .



Choosing an email client depends of your needs and personal preferences. Thunderbird seems to be a complete solution and has a good support. Evolution and Kmail are pretty good on their respective desktops environments thought they work in mostly any distro. If you need a lightweight email client you could think on Claws mail , Balsa or Sylpheed. That’s something good in the linux universe, you can choose or use several different applications because they are free.