Ergonomics and security of graphical email clients



Besides a manually adjustable message filter for incoming and outgoing email, Evolution also lets you integrate a professional spam filter into the system. It supports Bogofilter and SpamAssassin, both of which can be found in the package sources of common distributions as Evolution plugins. After their installation, you activate the respective spam filter from Edit | Preferences , where you can access the configuration dialog of the software and make all the necessary adjustments in the Mail Preferences | Junk tab (Figure 6).

Figure 6: Evolution can include external spam filters.

Once you have added both spam filters to the system, you can select one from a selection field in the dialog and modify specific options. In a table, you also define flags in the email headers, which trigger sorting of the corresponding email, if the flags are present. The messages then end up in the Junk folder.


The very lean Geary [4], developed in the Vala programming language, is under the auspices of the Gnome project. The program can be found in the software archives of most distributions and can also be installed under other GTK+-based interfaces.

Geary starts a wizard when first launched, offering import options for existing email accounts. You can integrate accounts from Gmail, Yahoo, and at the push of a button. For other providers, you enter the access data manually in a separate dialog. Geary only integrates IMAP accounts and does not support POP3 mail retrieval (Figure 7).

Figure 7: The wizard for creating email accounts in Geary is very spartan.

Geary does not have a function for automatically determining the access credentials for email accounts with third-party providers, so you must first determine the server data on the Internet for a manual configuration. Moreover, you cannot enter port numbers in the configuration wizard. If your provider uses ports that deviate from the norm for IMAP or SMTP access, you cannot use Geary. At least the transport encryption can be changed in the wizard, and in a separate dialog you will also find an option for entering a personal signature that appears under your email.

After finishing the configuration, the main window of the application, which is adapted to the Gnome operating conventions, opens. All the controls are located in the titlebar. The only available menu is reached through a hamburger icon.

When displaying messages, Geary follows the usual conventions: On the left you find the folder tree subdivided by email accounts; the middle contains the incoming mail in list form with sender, subject, and the content of the first line; on the right you can see the text of the active email. Mailboxes are managed from the action menu and the small buttons in the menubar.

The dialog for composing a new message, which you can access on the far left by pressing the Compose Message button, opens a corresponding input area in the right window segment. Geary stands out compared with other email clients in that the editor allows quite extensive formatting. By default, Geary generates HTML email. To compose simple text messages, switch the editor to plain text with the More Settings button bottom right in the window.


Geary consistently follows the controversial Gnome strategy of being as easy to use as possible, which means that encryption and signature mechanisms such as GPG or S/MIME are missing, as is a spam filter to remove advertising and other messages with malicious code. Although the client does have a spam folder, it is completely aligned with the corresponding folders at the providers. Also, Geary cannot be extended with plugins.

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