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Manoj Rao

Your Average Common Man

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In earlier posts I have shared my Emacs configuration.

Emailing in Emacs is a super power that I have been grateful for over the past several years. Below I will describe a simple setup that works for me and more importantly for me, it’s something I like. This setup makes me almost want to write descriptive emails simply because it moves the pain of writing emails into the same ecosystem that I feel comfortable writing long form articles, programs, design documents and other artifacts that involve “putting my thoughts down”. I cringe everytime I see an email written in rich text with broad lines going well over 150 characters.

A lot of the times it makes me think that people with very detailed email responses tend to almost face no resistance between thinking and putting their thoughts in a detailed email response. Consider the following:

Note-Taking In Email

Well it’s not the best demo I guess, but what if you want to capture something from the email for future reference? Maybe, you want to stash an important TODO item from the email and keep notes for yourself. Furthermore, won’t it nice to automatically capture all the meta fields of the email, such as from:, to:, sent_time:

Take this for example, I am composing this post, obviously, in Emacs but I will read LKML and capture some important notes that I can later access. In order to not overwhelm an new Emacs user I won’t go into the weeds with the specific packages used and their configurations etc in this post. This is just to motivate the right reader to think of using Emacs as their email client to boost your productivity, well at least to get to a point where you don’t hate reading/writing emails.

Fewer Distractions

If you want to minimize distractions (by avoiding an untimely email pop-up) then using mu4e on top of offlineimap is very effective, you get to check emails at your wish. Yes, you can turn off notifications or come up with several ways to avoid distractions. But the corollary of this is what makes this option more suitable for me, i.e., when I respond to an email I try to give it proper attention.

Easier Filtering

It’s stupid simple to filter email with two keystrokes

  • j : for Jump To Folder
  • b: for Jump To Bookmark

Similarly, bookmarking is particularly useful to save your query filters across folders. For ex: “Jump to Mails From XYZ from 3 weeks ago”

If you use org-mode on Emacs then you are in luck, you simply select the right keyword from org-capture template.

OK, I will admit that I have spent unhealthy amounts of time tweaking my Emacs config over the years. If you like what you see then you can simply start by using my config as-is, by copying pieces of config in to your .emacs and giving it a whirr.

Hope that whets your appetite to start using Emacs as an email client (among other things) Config details coming up in a separate post…

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