Note : This post was originally written in org-mode. When I moved to hugo I “translated” in to markdown (via pandoc). That is why you see some TODO/DONE statuses below

I have been meaning to setup emacs for email in general, but due to the size of my existing mailbox, setting up offlineimap (or mbsync for that matter) is a daunting task. I am sure I'll do that one day. But for now, I wanted to start small, or as Sacha Chua says “baby steps”

So I decided to setup sending an email first, and then slowly move to using programs like mu4e to read/search my emails.

I referenced [this] ( page to get started. But it did not work as-is.

I had to add a line (see below) to get SMTP server using ssl Also, the line starting smtpmail-auth-credentials didn't work.

Luckily, after adding the ssl line, I got interactive prompt asking for username and password. This was saved into a ~/.authinfo file. unfortunately the password is stored in plain-text. I know there are ways to encrypt it using gpg, just that I haven't explored it yet.

Here is the relevant part of my config

(setq smtpmail-smtp-server "")
(setq smtpmail-stream-type  'ssl)
(setq smtpmail-smtp-service 465)
(setq send-mail-function 'smtpmail-send-it)
(setq message-send-mail-function 'smtpmail-send-it)

This was the minimal setup without using any additional tools. Everything came built-in.


✔ DONE Fix the default “From” prompt.

CLOSED: 2016-03-20

This was achieved using the following configuration.

(setq user-full-name "Mandar Vaze")
(setq smtpmail-local-domain "")
(setq user-mail-address (concat "mandar.vaze@" smtpmail-local-domain))

✔ DONE encrypt the password

CLOSED: 2016-03-21

emacs has ability to auto encrypt and decrypt files with .gpg extension. EasyPG is part of Emacs 23+, but did not work for me on OSX.

Found a solution here.

brew install gpg

I did not have to fiddle with PATH though.

I already had a .authinfo created by gnus I just saved it as .authinfo.gpg. I followed the prompts and was easily able to encrypt the file on the disk.

When I sent an email, I was asked for the passphrase (as expected) that was all.

✔ DONE Read emails via emacs

CLOSED: 2016-03-21

This deserves a separate post in itself. There is so much explore/learn (for me) and using gnus in itself may take up good part of it, cause it is unlike other email clients I have used.

But quick summary of what worked for me:

(setq gnus-select-method '(nnimap "domain"
                          (nnimap-address "")
                          (nnimap-server-port 993)
                          (nnimap-stream ssl)))

I also had to add a new entry in the .authinfo.gpg for because the machine name is different as well as the port number.

The very first attempt failed, because I failed to notice that I was being asked a passphrase for my .authinfo.gpg file. But one that is provided, it worked well.

Off course, I did not have anything unread, so I was presented with a empty screen. So I went to the web version of the email, and marked a few threads as unread. and now I was presented with INBOX

Navigating is a bit awkward. But to be honest, at this point I was happy that emails showed up.

It will be a while before I can start “using” emacs as a mail client. There is so much to do :

  • offline IMAP
  • setting up better mail client like mu4e
  • integrating with bbdb for contacts integration
  • ability to read HTML emails

Update : Feb 27, 2018

3 out of 4 were done long ago. I did not need bbdb integration.