8 November 2016

Claws Mail - Overview

An email client is arguably the most frequently used piece of software, after Web browsers. Perhaps for this reason, there are several email clients available. 
For this article, I spent a amount of time working with Claws, Evolution, KMail, and finally Geary. These email clients have a great deal in common; they are developed with focus on Linux.

"Claws Mail is a GTK+ based, user-friendly, lightweight, and fast 
email client."

What is Claws Mail
It's a free and open source, GTK+-based email and news client. It offers easy configuration and an abundance of features. It stores mail in the MH mailbox format and also the Mbox mailbox format via a plugin. Graceful, and sophisticated interface, easy configuration, intuitive operation, abundant features.

Image 'The Main Window' all credits and source of: Claws Mail

Trying Out Claws
Claws interface isn't the slickest you’ll ever see, but it’s not hard on the eyes and some geeks might actually prefer the minimalist approach to the email. The display is also highly configurable. Users can easily set the columns to display in the folder view and which columns to display in the message view. If you want a lot of information in the message view, you can get that, or you can winnow it down to just the sender and subject, if that makes you happy.

Once you’ve started working with Claws you can get as complex or simple as you’d like. For non-power users, Claws provides a stable and simple to use interface. It’s as easy as any other GUI mailer to get started with. For power-users, though, Claws lets you really dig in to mail.

Main Advantages
I knew Claws had two advantages on the onset: it’s lightweight (therefore it’s quite fast) and operates on a mailbox logic. I was quite surprised to see it was easy to configure, and it just required easy logical reasoning, something that is a bit rare in configuration assistants these days. I was able to consolidate and retrieve almost all my email in two years. 

Here's some features available:

  • Search and filtering
  • Security (GPG, SSL, anti-phishing)
  • Import/export from standard formats
  • External editor
  • Templates
  • Foldable quotes
  • Per-folder preferences
  • Face, X-Face support
  • Customisable toolbars
  • Themes support
  • Plugins

Image 'The account preferences window' all credits and source of: Claws Mail

In Claws there’s a plugin for almost anything you can think of. If you use your mailer to read RSS and Atom feeds, there’s a plugin available. Want to view HTML messages in-line? -  Claws can do that with a plugin as well. 

Among them, are:

  • Anti-spam (SpamAssassin, Bogofilter)
  • RSS aggregator
  • HTML viewers (Dillo, Gtkhtml2, Fancy (WebKit))
  • Trayicon
  • Laptop mail LED handler
  • Handler for the Mbox mailbox format
  • Various notification plugins
  • Perl filtering
  • Python scripting
  • Calendaring
  • TNEF parser
  • Archiving

Is available for my distro?
Well, almost every available distro has this finest email client. The download page has a list of all the 'official' packages, including packages for +Arch+Ubuntu,  +Debian,  +Fedora,  +Slackware,  +Gentoo,  +openSUSE,  +OpenMandriva,  +FreeBSD , +NetBSD , Solaris and even Cupertino and Redmond proprietary distros.

Final Thoughts
Claws is a powerful client which is clearly aimed at serious users. In my opinion, if Claws were a little more Polish, more appealing to the eyes, would be beyond doubt my main email client. With some work in that direction, Claws could be a powerful contender for the title as the best graphical client for regular users.

If you are looking for a fast, all-purpose email client, with a ridiculous amount of control over how your mail is handled, like to work with complex mail filters and really tweak your mail experience... Claws is the right way to go.

Formerly known as Sylpheed-Claws, it started in April 2001 as the development version of Sylpheed, where new features could be tested and debugged, but evolved enough to now be a completely separate program. It forked completely from Sylpheed in August 2005.

Claws Info

  • Developed by
    • Holger Berndt, Andrej Kacian
    • Status
      • Active
    • Written in
      • C (with GTK+)
    • Latest version
      • 3.14.1 - 6th November 2016
    • Platform 
      • Linux
        • Arch Linux
        • Ubuntu
        • Debian
        • Fedora
        • Slackware
        • Gentoo
        • openSUSE
        • OpenMandriva
      • BSD
        • FreeBSD
        • NetBSD
      • Solaris
      • Mac
      • Windows
    • License
      • GPL, LGPL

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