It’s funny how small, trivial things can lead you to make radical changes in the tools you use. As regular readers of this blog know, I collect sayings that I publish every month. I then compile these sayings into a custom fortune file that displays one saying every time I login to my computer or open a new terminal window/shell process.
I recently learned that I can call this custom fortune file as a signature and have one added automatically to every email I write by adding this line to my .muttrc configuration file.
set signature="fortune /usr/share/games/fortunes/cafebedouin -s|"
This is simply calling the fortune program, specifying the location of the file and the -s flag is telling fortune to find a small quote to add. This is a completely trivial feature, but I love it. It is what provided the motivation to actually get mutt to work as my main email client.
My main problem with mutt has been that I couldn’t figure out how to get it to render HTML emails in a readable format, which makes mutt a poor choice as an everyday email client. Half of the emails I receive are in HTML format. The problem, it turns out, is that my email provider encrypts all my email, so I needed an additional line in .mailcap that processes the pgp/mime format, like so:
text/plain; cat %s; copiousoutput text/html; mkdir -p /tmp/mutt \; cp %s /tmp/mutt \; firefox /tmp/mutt/$(basename %s) & text/html; lynx -nonumbers -dump %s; copiousoutput; nametemplate=%s.html pgp/mime; lynx -dump %s; copiousoutput; nametemplate=%s.html
This points to something I didn’t understand. .mailcap is basically how you tell mutt to process email attachments, and you simply associate file types with programs on your system. There’s also default behavior, where the text/html with copiousoutput will be used when you hit enter by default and when you go to view the attachment, mutt will call the first relevant line in mailcap, as mentioned here.. The same idea applies to other file types, such as images.
image/*; mkdir -p /tmp/mutt \; cp %s /tmp/mutt \; xdg-open /tmp/mutt/$(basename %s) &
So, once the change above is made, you then need to change this line in .muttrc:
alternative_order text/html text/plain text/enriched text multipart/alternative auto_view text/html # Removes temporary attachment files folder-hook . `rm -f /tmp/mutt/*`
And now, it works beautifully. I’ve completely stopped using thunderbird, and I only use mutt. And, it has improved my email experience so much. I receive something like 50-100 emails a day, most of them newsletters or promotional material from organizations I signed up to hear more about. But, mutt makes it so easy to navigate and delete email.
Since making the transition, my inbox – which I had always relatively good control over and rarely had more than a day’s worth of email in – is down to a couple of leftover emails per day. I read what I want and delete them. I highly recommend making the transition.