Sunday, May 16, 2010

Gmail: mutt vs. web interface

I am a very serious gmail user.  I think it's a good service.  I have already written on this blog that I am a serious fan of the mutt email client.  Please understand that I don't feel that any other gui mail client competes for the speed with which I can process my email.  So I don't want this to be a email client vs. email client war, I've already said my peace on that and if you don't like that please find another blog.

I do think it's important to check and see what the critical differences are in the two methods I use to access the service.  Clear declaration, that I use imap with mutt so I am not caching or storing the email local (i.e. POP3) which might make a difference in this argument.

After using the web interface with the google labs on for keyboard shortcuts, and giving myself a solid two week time frame during which to become proficient with using the keyboard with the web interface.  I have to say that is can be quite efficient on it's own and very usefull, so the below comparison has everything to do with web+keyboard vs. mutt and the efficiency with processing/managing emails.

Gmail web Pros:
Search speed: very fast and process all headers and body.
Open Access: any OS, any PC commands and interface available

Gmail web Cons:
No gpg support: not for key verification, not for encryption.
Conversation presentation: does invite confusion about where messages are

Mutt pros:
More refined searches: the limit statements are crazy specific
GPG support: completely, inline.
Closed Access: w/ssh access offers only encrypted channel

Mutt cons:
Software requirement: somewhere there must be software installed
Complete searches: if you do a search of body content takes a long time

I have to confess, that with multiple accounts, I have a serious need for some features on some accounts and needs for other features with others.  I actually have one account that I use both interfaces with often.

Find you comfort level, be realistic about access and real needs, if you would like to have high security and choose mutt, it might be very uncomfortable to use a mobile phone for access with a crampped keyboard.

Be practical, pragmatic and safe.

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Xpistos said...

Ok, So I admit it. I tried Mutt using my gmail. So you where right. It is great. So what. Big deal Mr. Fancypants command line guru! I supposed next your going to tell me I can't get virus on text base emails. So what if I like spending hours on end disinfecting my system so it will turn on or "work." What an elitest!

ricemark20 said...

I enjoy using mutt for reading Gmail.
Once I got a good muttrc, the rest comes second nature to me. Great post.

joey. said...

Can you post your good muttrc? I too am trying to get gmail/mutt to be super friendly.

I access mutt from cygwin on windows (at work) through mintty and from my linux box at home. (Colors seem weird across termtypes i think...)

CafeNinja said...

You can download my gmail prepared muttrc in a zip file that was linked in my article There should be what you are looking for there.