Without notmuch, I would simply delete your email

I have been using notmuch (http://notmuchmail.org/) as my email client for quite a while now. It’s fast. I don’t mean that everything happens instantly (some actions do take a bit longer than ideally they would), but with the quantity of mail I (and others) throw at it? Beats everything else I’ve ever tried.

I keep seeing people complain about not being able to keep up with various email loads and I am convinced it is because their mail client sucks.

I hear people go on about mutt…. well, I stopped using mutt when it would take two minutes to open some of my mail folders.

I hear some people talk about Evolution…. well, I stopped using Evolution when I realized that when it was rebuilding its index, I couldn’t use my mail client for at least twenty minutes.

Gmail…. well, maybe. Except that I don’t want all my mail to be sitting on google servers, I want to be able to work disconnected and the amount of time it would take to upload my existing mail makes it a non-starter (especially from the arse end of the internet – Australia). I also do not want email on my phone.

My current problem with notmuch? It just uses Maildir…. and this isn’t the most efficient for mail that never changes, some kind of archive format that is compressed would be great. Indeed, I started looking into this ages ago, but just haven’t had the spare cycles to complete it (and getting SSDs everywhere has not helped with the motivation).

Coming back from vacation, my mailbox had about 4,700 messages sitting in it. I’ve been able to get through just about all of them without blindly deleting mail. This is largely due to the great UI of notmuch for being able to quickly look at threads and then mark as read, quickly progressing to the next message. I can tag mail for action, I can very quickly search for email on an urgent topic (and find it) and generally get on with the business of getting things done rather than using an email program.