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terminal e-mail client and e-mail client library
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meli GitHub license

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

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

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

Main repository:

Official mirrors:



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 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 (off 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]
  • svgscreenshot provides support for taking screenshots of the current view of meli and saving it as SVG files. Its only purpose is taking screenshots for the official meli webpage. (off by default)
  • debug-tracing enables various trace debug logs from various places around the meli code base. The trace log is printed in stderr. (off 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.

Building with JMAP

To build with JMAP support, prepend the environment variable MELI_FEATURES='jmap' to your make invocation:

MELI_FEATURES="jmap" make

or if building directly with cargo, use the flag `--features="jmap"'.

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, thus you can run meli with a redirection (i.e 2> log)

Code style follows the default rustfmt profile.


How to run specific tests:

cargo test -p {melib, meli} (-- --nocapture) (--test test_name)


perf record -g target/debug/bin
perf script | stackcollapse-perf | rust-unmangle | flamegraph > perf.svg

Running fuzz targets

Note: cargo-fuzz requires the nightly toolchain.

cargo +nightly fuzz run envelope_parse -- -dict=fuzz/envelope_tokens.dict