Editing mail with Geary

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© Natalia Lukiyanova - 123RF.com

© Natalia Lukiyanova - 123RF.com

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A new mail program for Linux, Geary, has finally arrived. The smart software brings some fresh air to the genre.

In the past few years, the triumph of web-based mail services seemed unstoppable. More and more users now operate email directly in their browsers and do away with specific client programs. No wonder that work on many mail clients has come to a standstill.

Meanwhile, however, a few programmers have found renewed courage to work on such tools. Reasons for their use are plentiful and include closer integration with the operating system or the advantage of providing a uniform user interfaces for different accounts. The signs are good for a classic mailer renaissance, and one interesting new application is Geary [1].

Geary developers aren't new to the open source scene. They also developed Shotwell [2], a popular image manager for Gnome. They're also fond of crowdfunding to finance their work. They floundered for a while, but they finally got to work, and the results are great [3]. The "Installation" box describes how you can integrate the newest version of Geary into your system.


To install the current version of Geary, use the commands in Listing 1. The first command defines the package source, and the following two integrate the contents and install Geary on your system.

Listing 1

Installing Geary

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:yorba/ppa
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install geary


Geary is already preconfigured to work with the largest and best-known free mail providers. If you send and receive messages via Gmail, Yahoo, or Outlook.com (formerly Hotmail), you already have the necessary accounts. Start the program and select the service provider from the drop-down list, then fill in the remaining fields (Figure 1). Enter the email address exactly as you registered with your service. Geary then connects to the server, and your account should immediately become active. If you use your own server or a provider not on the list, choose Other for a service. This option requires manual entry of the details.

Figure 1: Gmail or Hotmail users need to add just a few details to the Geary setup wizard to get immediate mail connectivity.

Own Server

Geary mainly works with providers with access to messages through IMAP – the modern form of managing server mail. With an IMAP account, everything remains on the server until deleted there. With the older POP3 process, the client usually retrieves messages from the server and deletes them after they're received, which means moving them from one folder to another on the server isn't possible. IMAP doesn't mean, however, that no emails or data end up on the user's machine. To speed things up, most mail programs retain local copies of messages and attachments.

If you want to set up personal access, you can use a "nickname" in the dialog. Geary uses this nickname to distinguish between accounts. In the main area of the window, specify the server details (Figure 2). These details include the hostname, possibly the encryption method used to communicate with the server, and the log-in information. Exit the dialog with OK to complete the settings. You might want to know where Geary stores the account credentials, which is, after all, sensitive information. However, you have no reason to distrust Geary: The program doesn't store the access data in an open configuration data format but rather in the key management of the Gnome desktop.

Figure 2: As long as the server recognizes the IMAP protocol, you can use it with the current version of Geary.

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