mutt v. the world (Re: [Techtalk] What I did over the Christmas Holidays!)

Mary Gardiner linuxchix at
Wed Jan 2 09:56:57 EST 2002

On Tue, Jan 01, 2002 at 12:16:38PM -0500, David Merrill wrote:
> It sounds like there are fewer and fewer reasons to use mutt. Of
> course inertia will always play a role. At this point, a mailer would
> have to be "better" than mutt in some way (other than looks, which
> aren't that important *to* *me*). The biggest problem with mutt is
> that it's hard to learn, and I went through that learning curve long
> ago.

I found that the leap from Pine, which I learned a year before mutt,
wasn't too bad, although I intensely dislike some of mutt's default
config options and the immense customisability of all these options
isn't something you learn quickly. (Keybindings are totally re-writable
too, which would help people making the jump from other keyboard apps.)

I think it's one of the mailers of choice in the following situations:
 * You have some reason you really want to use a text-based mail client.
 * You now think that any program that doesn't incorporate regular
   expressions in every possible search and replace isn't a real program
   (I discovered regexps a year ago and I'm still going strong).
 * You want a mail client, not a mail client+newsreader+web browser, a
   mail reader+calendering app or even a mail client+windowing system.
 * You like your existing editor.
 * You like your existing apps for viewing HTML, JPEGs etc.
 * You like using the keyboard more than the mouse.

These are the reasons I use mutt. The text-based thing really is key, I
imagine that there are other mailers, with GUIs, that meet all the other
requirements, although the battle to get GUI apps that can be completely
keyboard driven is lost, in my opinion.

I consider mutt to have cornered *my* market - that is, the text based
mailer of choice for people managing a high volume of mail. I initially
switched from Pine due to the fact that mutt threads mails and Pine
doesn't, but now there's SO much functionality I'd miss. Much of it is
outside the scope of many people's use of mailers though and I only
started using it because I was already a mutt user.


Mary Gardiner
<mary at>

More information about the Techtalk mailing list