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Open-source IMAP clients


September 10 2011

For my work, I had to find a good open-source IMAP client that runs in Windows. Here are some notes I took during my research:

  • Claws mail: Unstable code base; frequent crashes. Puts a large number of half-complete draft messages in one's Gmail "sent" folder while composing a message. Does not support IMAP servers without APPEND support.
  • Sylpheed: Windows port does not have built-in spellchecker.
  • Mahogany: Dead codebase (no updates since 2006/2008). No apparent support for IMAP-over-SSL.
  • Mulberry mail: No apparent support for alternate ports for IMAP-over-SSL and SMTP-over-SSL.
  • Alpine: No apparent support for IMAP-over-SSL.
  • Thunderbird: Not very suitable for writing traditional 80-column fixed-width text emails. Besides that, excellent (Automatic email configuration, IMAP-over-SSL, supports IMAP servers w/o APPEND, etc.)
  • KMail: Did not try (Installing an entire desktop environment just to have an email client is overkill)

Thunderbird is the best email client to use in modern work environments where HTML-formatted email is the norm. While it does have support for non-HTML mail, this support is limited.

Claws Mail will become an excellent email client for legacy 80-column monospace text email when and if the bugs are fixed.

Sylpheed may become a good email client, but it could really use Windows spell checking support.

I have made a minor tweak to the CSS: With some video drivers, the CSS elements are placed one pixel off left or right in Internet Explorer 9. This in mind, I have given all of the CSS layers used for the "dissolve border" background colors so the page still looks good when this IE9 bug is triggered.

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