Proper email client

I had a brief discussion with a colleague at work today about email clients.  Once again I had to say that I do miss Mutt.  Gmail is pretty good, but it still lacking a lot of Mutt’s functionality.  And that thing that Outlook and Web Outlook thing that they force us to use at work, is horrible, no matter what you compare it to.

As I was going through the things that I love in Mutt, I mentioned the threaded discussions and quoting.  It was a bit difficult to describe the details, so I quickly searched for a screenshot.  Here’s one.

Unlike grouped replies in MS Outlook and Gmail conversations, here you can clearly see which email is a reply to which email.  Once you get into group discussions, with multiple participants dragging the conversation into different directions, this kind of discussion view becomes extremely useful.

And one other thing is about quoting.  Gmail at least tries to be useful.  MS Outlook is completely horrible in this department.  It quotes full messages UNDER the replies.  So if someone forwarded you an email with quotes from a long discussion, you’ll spend a day reading it.  You’ll need to scroll to the bottom of the message, then scroll up a bit to read the first message in the discussion.  Then scroll up to the second message, and scroll down while reading it.  Then scroll up again to the third message, and scroll down while reading it, and so forth.  I get dizzy just by thinking of that.

Mutt users are from a different culture though.  (Truth be told, not only Mutt users – this culture comes from many years ago, from the times when bandwidth was expensive, rules were strict, and people respected each other’s time.)  In the image above you can clearly see the part of the original email to which the reply was done, and all the other bits of the conversation necessary to understand the current state of discussion.  In fact, the message above includes relevant details from four messages (!!!).  And one look at it is enough to tell who wrote what and when.

Just that screenshot alone makes me want to go back.  And, in fact, given how things have changes since my last thoughts on that, maybe I will.  I won’t get rid of Gmail, since it is mighty convenient to have access from everywhere and good integration with even my mobile phone.  I also can’t imagine the life without Gmail’s SPAM filter.  But, maybe I can find some middle ground and configure Mutt on my hosting server to access Gmail via IMAP.  I’ve done it before, I think it might be time to do it again.

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