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Signed-off-by: Manos Pitsidianakis <>
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meli GitHub license

BSD/Linux terminal email client with support for multiple accounts and Maildir / mbox / notmuch / IMAP / JMAP / NNTP (usenet).

Community links: mailing lists | #meli on OFTC IRC | Report bugs and/or feature requests in meli's issue tracker

Main repository:

Official mirrors:

Main view screenshot Compact main view screenshot Compose with embed terminal editor screenshot
Main view Compact main view Compose with embed terminal editor


meli aims for configurability, extensibility with sane defaults, and modern practices. It is a mail client for both casual and power users of the terminal.

A variety of email workflows and software stacks should be usable with meli. Integrate e-mail storage, sync, tagging system, SMTP client, contact management and editor of your choice to replace the defaults.

Supported E-mail backends

Protocol Support
IMAP full
Maildir full
notmuch full*
mbox read-only
JMAP functional
NNTP / Usenet functional
  • there's no support for searching through all email directly, you'd have to create a mailbox with a notmuch query that returns everything and search inside that mailbox.

E-mail Submission backends

  • SMTP
  • Pipe to shell script
  • Server-side submission

Non-exhaustive List of Features

  • TLS
  • email threading support
  • multithreaded, async operation
  • optionally run your editor of choice inside meli, with an embedded xterm-compatible terminal emulator
  • plain text configuration in TOML
  • ability to open emails in UI tabs and switch to them
  • optional sqlite3 index search
  • override almost any setting per mailbox, per account
  • contact list (+read-only vCard and mutt alias file support)
  • forced UTF-8 (other encodings are read-only)
  • configurable shortcuts
  • theming
  • NO_COLOR support
  • ascii-only drawing characters option
  • view text/html attachments through an html filter command (w3m by default)
  • pipe attachments/mail to stuff
  • use external attachment file picker instead of typing in an attachment's full path
  • GPG signing, encryption, signing + encryption
  • GPG signature verification



See a comprehensive tour of meli in the manual page meli(7).

See also the Quickstart tutorial online.

After installing meli, see meli(1), meli.conf(5), meli(7) and meli-themes(5) for documentation. Sample configuration and theme files can be found in the meli/docs/samples/ subdirectory. Manual pages are also hosted online.

meli by default looks for a configuration file in this location: $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/meli/config.toml

You can run meli with arbitrary configuration files by setting the $MELI_CONFIG environment variable to their locations, i.e.:

MELI_CONFIG=./test_config cargo run


For a quick start, build and install locally:

 PREFIX=~/.local make install

Available subcommands for make are listed with make help. The Makefile should be POSIX portable and not require a specific make version.

meli requires rust 1.65 and rust's package manager, Cargo. Information on how to get it on your system can be found here:

With Cargo available, the project can be built with make and the resulting binary will then be found under target/release/meli. Run make install to install the binary and man pages. This requires root, so I suggest you override the default paths and install it in your $HOME: make PREFIX=$HOME/.local install.

You can build and run meli with one command: cargo run --release.

Build features

Some functionality is held behind "feature gates", or compile-time flags. The following list explains each feature's purpose:

  • gpgme enables GPG support via libgpgme (on by default)
  • dbus-notifications enables showing notifications using dbus (on by default)
  • notmuch provides support for using a notmuch database as a mail backend (on by default)
  • jmap provides support for connecting to a jmap server and use it as a mail backend (on by default)
  • sqlite3 provides support for builting fast search indexes in local sqlite3 databases (on by default)
  • cli-docs includes the manpage documentation compiled by either mandoc or man binary to plain text in meli's command line. Embedded documentation can be viewed with the subcommand meli man [PAGE] (on by default).

Build Debian package (deb)

Building with Debian's packaged cargo might require the installation of these two packages: librust-openssl-sys-dev librust-libdbus-sys-dev

A *.deb package can be built with make deb-dist

Using notmuch

To use the optional notmuch backend feature, you must have libnotmuch5 installed in your system. In Debian-like systems, install the libnotmuch5 packages. meli detects the library's presence on runtime.

Using GPG

To use the optional gpg feature, you must have libgpgme installed in your system. In Debian-like systems, install the libgpgme11 package. meli detects the library's presence on runtime.

HTML Rendering

HTML rendering is achieved using w3m by default. You can use the pager.html_filter setting to override this (for more details you can consult meli.conf(5)).


Development builds can be built and/or run with

cargo build
cargo run

There is a debug/tracing log feature that can be enabled by using the flag --feature debug-tracing after uncommenting the features in Cargo.toml. The logs are printed in stderr when the env var MELI_DEBUG_STDERR is defined, thus you can run meli with a redirection (i.e 2> log).

Code style follows the rustfmt.toml file.