Awesome sauce.

Mail, the asynchronous communication channel which uses a bunch of different technologies under-the-hood.

mail-user-agent (MUA), the

You might be used to just starting one monolithic application such as Outlook or Thunderbird to read your mail. However, for a text-based approach including tools such as neomutt, then things a quite different, and a Wizard won’t pop up for you to fill out.

For instance before even diving into NeoMutt, then you probably want to setup a way to encrypt/decrypt secrets. Yeah, everything is bare-bones, you are not relying on Thunderbird/Outlook to store your passwords safely, no no, you define how your “secrets” are kept.

  • gnupg, in your various configuration-files then passwords a needed unless you want to type in your username/password everything you send/receive email, it is super bad practice to just stuff those as plain-text in your configs, so to avoid that then something like gnupg can be used to store them encrypted and decrypt the passwords when needed

  • pass

  • abook, an address-book, such that you can get some auto-completion when writing mails to people, e.g. helps you to fill out the to: portion when writing an email.

  • mbsync,

  • notmuch, virtual inbox and mail-filtering

Password Management using gnupg + pass

Fancy tools/services such as 1password, LastPass, and more free alternatives include KeepX. For what we do here the goal is simple:

  • Avoid clear-text passwords in configuration-files

A bonus feature is that, when using a password-manager then it becomes much easier to change passwords, as you would just change it in the manager and not in every configuration file using it.

For this task the approach is using GnuPG and pass.

Arch Linux has some great documentation on GnuPG


sudo apt-get install gnupg pass


The default location for your GnuPG stuff is in ~/.gnupg.

Create a key-pair:

gpg --full-gen-key

You could just use gpg --decrypt/gpg --encrypt, however, the pass tool is really convenient. Set it up it like this:

pass init $USER

This should create your password store in ~/.password-store, and it should be initialized with your gpg-id. You can then store passwords for your mail-accounts, something like:

# Add your passwod for your private email
pass insert Email/private

# Add your passwod for your business email
pass insert Email/business

Try and see if you can also retrieve them:

pass show Email/private
pass show Email/business

You can then use pass show Email/private in your configuration files instead of the password itself. This is convenient when you rotate your password, then you do not need to go an edit all your configuration-files, you just update the password manager. Also, you avoid storing the password in clear-text inside all those configuration files.

Retrieve Email using mbsync

For reference, here are alternatives tools/setup: offlineimap, getmail or configure NeoMutt to connect to your imap mail-servers. What I use here is setting up mbsync for accounts on different servers, that is, my personal GMail and the Exchange server for work.


sudo apt-get install isync

Create mail-directories for personal and work email:

mkdir -p ~/mail/{personal,work}

Now, configure mbsync to retrieve/sync your personal and work email in the sub-directories of ~/mail:

# Open the mbsync configuration file
editor ~/.mbsyncrc

Fill it with something similar to below, where the personal mail is on GMail and the workmail is on an Exchange Server:

IMAPAccount personal
PassCmd "pass show Email/personal.imap"
Pipelinedepth 1

IMAPStore personal-remote
Account personal

MaildirStore personal-local
SubFolders Verbatim
Path ~/mail/personal/
Inbox ~/mail/personal/Inbox

Channel personal
Far :personal-remote:
Near :personal-local:
Patterns *
SyncState *

Synchornize all accounts / channels:

mbsync -a

Synchronize a single account / channel:

mbsync personal

Address Book using abook



Setup NeoMutt configuration:

mkdir ~/.config/neomutt

Edit the NeoMutt configuration vim ~/.config/neomutt/neomuttrc: