Mutt IMAP Client

Using CSAIL Debian

Systemwide defaults are correct -- simply run mutt. If you work with very large folders, though, see below.

Other systems

These are the only entries you really need in your .muttrc to begin reading IMAP mail. The first time you try to read your mail, you will be presented with a certificate from You will be asked if you want to accept it once or always. Go ahead and accept it always. It will be stored in ~/.mutt_certificates. This will be used to negotiate the starttls connection with the IMAP server. This will encrypt both your password authentication (though that can be separately encrypted as well) as well as the transfer of your messages. There are many more configuration options available, goto Also, check out the links to sample .muttrc files as well as an online interactive .muttrc file builder at

set hostname=""
set spoolfile={}
set folder=imap://
set certificate_file="~/.mutt_certificates"

Speeding up mutt with large IMAP folders

If any of your IMAP folders are large, you'll also want to create the directory $HOME/.mutt_cache with the command
mkdir ~/.mutt_cache
and add the line
set header_cache="~/.mutt_cache"
to your .muttrc file. That will tell mutt to cache the headers of each message locally so it doesn't have to re-fetch the headers from the IMAP (mailbox) server each time you look at that folder. For large folders, it can be the difference between taking a couple seconds to open a folder and taking a couple minutes.
Topic revision: 06 Jan 2012, JaySekora

MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory


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