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title ogTitle ogImage author date date_iso_8601 bees left right
v0.6.0 alpha release v0.6.0 alpha release /images/posts/v0.6.0.png epilys 2020-07-29 00:00:00 2020-07-29T00:00:00+02:00 What if bees flew the coop?

A new alpha version is up for test/review. It's starting to look like a real client! Get it here. Some highlights are:

  • Support for async IO using the smol runtime. IMAP backend is now async.
  • imap: add server_password_command
  • add optional SMTP client. Instead of using an external command (I was using msmtp for example) meli can connect to an SMTP server by itself. See documentation for send_mail option.
  • Custom themes

Online demo

I managed to compile meli to WebAssembly, and made an online demo so that you can get a feel for it without having to download/build it first. It's not perfect, but it works.

main screen screenshot



meli comes with two themes, dark (the default) and light. Here's how a theme is defined:

"theme_default" = { fg = "#F50431", bg = "#FFD5FD", attrs = "Default" }
"widgets.list.header" = { fg = "#FFD5FD", bg = "#F50431", attrs = "Bold" }
"mail.listing.attachment_flag" = { fg = "LightSlateGrey", bg = "theme_default", attrs = "theme_default" }
"mail.listing.compact.even" = { fg = "White", bg = "#6CA94A", attrs = "Bold" }
"mail.listing.compact.highlighted" = { fg = "#157241", bg = "#f74b41", attrs = "theme_default" }


You can also define color aliases:

color_aliases= { "Jebediah" = "#b4da55" }
"mail.listing.tag_default" = { fg = "$Jebediah" }


Custom themes can be defined as lists of key-values in the configuration files:

  • $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/meli/config.toml
  • $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/meli/themes/*.toml

The application theme is then defined in the configuration as follows:

theme = "dark"


You can create a theme template with a command line flag:

meli print-default-theme > ~/.config/meli/themes/new_theme.toml

Sample themes can be found in the samples/ directory in the source repository. Detailed documentation can be found in meli-themes(5) which is also available online sidenote: I couldn't get mandoc to generate large (i.e. longer than a page) tables. There is a GNU mdoc extension for this but it's not supported. Bummer

watermelon theme

Other subcommands

    create-config          create a sample configuration file with available configuration options. If PATH is not
                           specified, meli will try to create it in $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/meli/config.toml
    test-config            test a configuration file for syntax issues or missing options
    man                    print documentation page and exit (Piping to a pager is recommended.) [aliases: docs]
    help                   Prints this message or the help of the given subcommand(s)
    print-default-theme    print default theme in full to stdout and exit
    print-loaded-themes    print loaded themes in full to stdout and exit
    view                   View mail from input file

Usability improvements

  • Set default filter globally or per-mailbox e.g. show only unseen e-mail (virtual mailboxes coming soon). This is done on the UI and not in the backend, so specifying a filter won't for example make less IMAP requests. This will be supported in the future.
filter = "not flags:seen" # show only unseen messages globally
# or
[accounts."personal account".mailboxes]
"INBOX" = { listing.filter = "not flags:seen" } # override global settings for this mailbox
  • Oh, and override any setting that makes sense per mailbox or per account. You can for example use different sending mail options for each account, or different shortcuts for some mailboxes.
  • Search in pagers, and the shortcut panel with a simple KMP implementation
  • Autoload mailbox option - don't load big mailboxes on startup till you request them
  • Create/delete mailbox, {un,}subscribe mailbox
  • Set default headers
  • Manual check for new mail (default key F5). IMAP checks server, maildir can be configured to run a command (setting refresh_command)
  • Primitive fs autocomplete for commands, till a proper parser with states is written
  • Custom date format strings
  • $NO_COLOR disable colors application-wide conforming to
  • libnotmuch is now loaded dynamically. It's included in the default build configuration.
  • Display text/html attachments if the text/plain alternative is empty. (setting: auto_choose_multipart_alternative)

Distribution and building

  • Makefile has been improved:
/path/to/meli % make help
For a quick start, build and install locally:
 PREFIX=~/.local make install

Available subcommands:
 - meli (builds meli with optimizations in $CARGO_TARGET_DIR)
 - install (installs binary in $BINDIR and documentation to $MANDIR)
 - uninstall
Secondary subcommands:
 - clean (cleans build artifacts)
 - check-deps (checks dependencies)
 - install-bin (installs binary to $BINDIR)
 - install-doc (installs manpages to $MANDIR)
 - help (prints this information)
 - dist (creates release tarball named meli-0.5.1.tar.gz in this directory)
 - deb-dist (builds debian package in the parent directory)
 - distclean (cleans distribution build artifacts)

ENVIRONMENT variables of interest:
* PREFIX = /usr/local
* BINDIR = /usr/local/bin
* MANDIR = /usr/local/share/man
* MANPATH = unset
* output of manpath(1) = /home/epilys/.local/share/man:/usr/share/man:/usr/local/man:/usr/local/share/man
* NO_MAN unset
* NO_COLOR unset

binaries and debian package

available in

What's next

  • async JMAP
  • NNTP, RSS backends
  • mail storage sync/conversion. The pieces are there, and must be assembled into a functionality.
  • Efficient IMAP offline caching. Right now all mail is fetched everytime you launch the client, which obviously is not desirable. There's work being done on QRESYNC, CONDSTORE, and lazy fetch of messages when viewing a mailbox.
  • More GPG support. Signatures can be verified but that's all that exists now. Encryption will be implemented along with WKD support.
  • Custom action macros, for example pipe attachments to a script which is already possible with commands.


  • there is managesieve REPL binary in the repository. I haven't had the time to put managesieve functionality in the TUI yet.
  • I haven't explored yet how to expose the API to users properly. I am thinking of using something like rhai along with general MessagePack IPC.
  • There is no API for UI widgets/graphics yet. I'm not sure how to design this right now.
  • There's an old implementation demo for a mail backend in python using NNTP. It's probably not working anymore.
  • There's an old implementation demo for viewing images in ANSI in python using It might not work anymore.

Follow me on mastodon for updates. Join #meli on Freenode or with matrix's IRC bridge. I am interested in how you're using meli and fixing any problems you will probably encounter.