KMail 4.14 Review - Free Email Program

KMail 4.14 screenshot
The KMail Team
What We Like
  • KMail offers powerful and flexible mail filters and virtual folders for email management

  • Integrates secure, encrypted email using both OpenPGP and S/MIME

  • Configurable message templates and text expansion help compose replies using oft-used text

What We Don't Like
  • KMail is as rich in options, menu items and knobs to turn as it is in functions, but may be a bit unapproachable

  • KMail lacks internal spam filters or tight integration with external tools

Reasonably easy to use, powerful and versatile, KMail, the email component of the KDE Desktop Environment, is a most solid Linux email client.

Still, a multitude of options, some of them arcane, may be intimidating, while KMail could offer even more help managing mail and composing replies.

KMail Basics

  • KMail manages multiple POP and IMAP accounts, mbox and maildir mailboxes, and multiple identities for sending.
  • Powerful and flexible internal mail filters as well as support for procmail filtering and Sieve scripts at the server.
  • Can filter mail directly at the server to avoid downloading huge attachments or spam.
  • Powerful, fast message search with regular expressions and virtual folders make email management a snap. With IMAP accounts, you can search at the folder in addition to searching locally.
  • KMail supports display of HTML emails (but can also transform them into safe and simple text), colorizes quoted text, and can sort messages by thread.
  • Unwanted mail can be bounced back to the sender, simulating a dead email address.
  • Integration with the calendar lets you turn into to-do items (including reminders, of course) easily.
  • Supports OpenPGP cryptography and TLS/SSL connections natively, external plug-ins for S/MIME.
  • Automated archiving backs up entire folders on a schedule to a compressed archiving file.
  • Imports mail and addresses from many email programs.
  • KMail supports Linux/BSD/Unix and requires KDE.

Review - KMail 4.14 - Free Email Program

Where all applications start with a 'k', the email client is no exception. And like most of KDE, KMail combines powerful features with ease of use.

KMail boasts not merely a pretty interface, though; it is filled with useful tools for handling email.

A Powerhouse of Email Features

To automate many an action, KMail comes with very powerful filters (including the option to filter directly at the server), for example. Its strong IMAP support includes searching at the server and an editor for Sieve server-side filtering scripts. PGP/GnuPG integration makes secure, encrypted email easy, and the HTML email rendering is both neat and reasonably secure.

Back at filtering mail, KMail lets you set up "search folders"—virtual folders that automatically collect all messages that match certain criteria. These criteria a bit oddly do not include message tags, which you can set up and apply freely to messages or conversations (KMail does thread emails, of course, if you wish).

Composing Emails Can Be a Joy in KMail

The message editor is no exception to KMail's hands-on if a bit option-happy, approach. It supports HTML formatting as well as powerful plain text editing. Not only can you fully configure the templates used to generate new messages and replies (to change, say, the way the quoted original email is introduced), you can set up additional templates for quick replies that have you type less, too.

If efficient—little—typing is your thing, KMail also allows you to set up text shortcuts that automatically expand to longer and oft-used phrases. If you insert images in your emails, KMail can shorten—we mean shrink—these to sizes digestible for most email services and programs, too.

If this is not enough, an external editor (like vim or Emacs) can be used to edit messages instead of the built-in one. What might be even more useful, though, would be for those message templates and text expansions to be generated automatically from past emails…

All in all, KMail is a very worthy contender to the likes of Mozilla Thunderbird or, of course, web-based interfaces such as Gmail's.

(Updated June 2015)