3 cool text-based email clients

Writing and receiving email is a big part of everyone’s daily routine and choosing an email client is usually a major decision. The Fedora OS provides a large choice of email clients and among these are text-based email applications.


Mutt is probably one of the most popular text-based email clients. It supports all the common features that one would expect from an email client. Color coding, mail threading, POP3, and IMAP are all supported by Mutt. But one of its best features is it’s highly configurable. Indeed, the user can easily change the keybindings, and create macros to adapt the tool to a particular workflow.

To give Mutt a try, install it using sudo and dnf:

$ sudo dnf install mutt

To help newcomers get started, Mutt has a very comprehensive wiki full of macro examples and configuration tricks.


Alpine is also among the most popular text-based email clients. It’s more beginner friendly than Mutt, and you can configure most of Alpine via the application itself — no need to edit a configuration file. One powerful feature of Alpine is the ability to score emails. This is particularly interesting for users that are registered to a high volume mailing list like Fedora’s devel list. Using scores, Alpine can sort the email based on the user’s interests, showing emails with a high score first.

Alpine is also available to install from Fedora’s repository using dnf.

 $ sudo dnf install alpine

While using Alpine, you can easily access the documentation by pressing the Ctrl+G key combination.


nmh (new Mail Handling) follows the UNIX tools philosophy. It provides a collection of single purpose programs to send, receive, save, retrieve, and manipulate e-mail messages. This lets you swap the nmh command with other programs, or create scripts around nmh to create more customized tools. For example, you can use Mutt with nmh.

nmh can be easily installed using dnf.

$ sudo dnf install nmh

To learn more about nmh and mail handling in general you can read this GPL licenced book.

Using Software


  1. Luca

    Used PINE (the previous name of Alpine) for many years at my university (1996-2002)… I have good memories about it and its very user-friendly interface.

  2. elken

    Shoutout should go to Neomutt too

    Differences between mutt upstream: https://neomutt.org/feature.html

  3. Steven Bakker

    I used nmh (and MH before that) for many years, until frequent travel required me to switch to an IMAP-based client. I still wish nmh had IMAP capabilities!

  4. I love mutt, it’s the perfect client for the i3wm I use 🙂

  5. eMBee

    check out sup ( https://github.com/sup-heliotrope/sup )
    while it’s not actively maintained, it’s stable and working.

    and it’s the only commandline email client that supports virtual folders by search or tags and keeping multiple folders open at the same time.

    greetings, eMBee.

  6. Mut is cool but can’t connecting with gmai 🙁

    • Christian Dannie Storgaard

      I use gmailieer to sync my gmail to my local maildir, which mutt can interface with. I general though, I prefer alot for its “build it yourself” attitude.

    • dac.override

      For that to work you would have tell gmail to “allow less secure apps”. You can find more info about how to do this with your favorite search engine.

      • Christian Dannie Storgaard

        Not necessarily. gmailieer uses an API certificate that you can generate for yourself, so you can keep “allow less secure apps” off an still have access to your email.

  7. baux

    Emacs and gnus forever and ever

  8. Bob

    What? No screenshots?

  9. B Scott

    I use alpine for both work and personal e-mail; have been for MANY (12) years. Before that I used the original Pine implementation. Occasionally I’ll try a GUI based mail client, get frustrated and go right back to alpine. For personal use I have multiple mail accounts configured that I can read and manage in one instance: G-Mail, Yahoo and my own personal mail server. At work I just use it to connect to s-imap implementation on Microsoft Exchange.

    Once you figure out multiple account configurations, all the shortcuts and configuring address books, there just is no GUI (usually interpreted bloated) mail application that can come close. It is still by far the best and most flexible mail program pretty much anywhere.

  10. fgwef

    how automaticaly download email in mutt?
    i must shift+g to download in pop
    how to do automatic?

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