Ergonomics and security of graphical email clients



Besides the common transport encryptions, Claws Mail also supports digital signatures and encryption of sent email. The corresponding settings dialogs can be found in the Privacy tab of the respective account. Also, you can use plugins to integrate various spam filters and ClamAV, an antivirus solution, into the email program. A list of available extensions can be found on the project's website.

Numerous single plugins, but also metapackages with several extensions, are available in the software archives of many distributions. To enable them, you have to integrate them into Claws Mail from the Configuration | Plugins dialog. In the window that opens, you load the plugins into the program and activate them (Figure 3). Afterwards, the plugins can be configured individually under Configuration | Preferences | Plugins , where you can specify, for example, the paths to the integrated third-party programs that Claws Mail uses when receiving messages or triggering a function.

Figure 3: Plugins let you integrate additional functions into Claws Mail.

Besides various antispam and antivirus solutions, some plugins add additional features to the email client that let you integrate various HTML and PDF viewers for direct viewing of corresponding files from received email.


The Evolution [3] personal information manager (PIM) with its more than 20 years of development time is one of the dinosaurs among email clients. The software, maintained by the Gnome project, is one of the components of the current Gnome desktop and is therefore either automatically installed on your disk during the installation of a distribution or can at least be set up subsequently from the software archives.

Evolution also makes it easy to create email accounts thanks to a wizard that transfers the account to the email client with just a few mouse clicks the first time it is started (Figure 4). An automated recognition routine for various email providers is provided, allowing the software to adapt quickly to different server addresses, port numbers, and transport encryptions. For some providers, you then have to enable message reception over the POP3 or IMAP protocol in the provider's web-based configuration interface.

Figure 4: The startup wizard sets up the first account almost fully automatically in Evolution.

Evolution's program window offers no surprises compared with other email clients. The PIM's significantly greater range of functions compared with a plain vanilla email client is noticeable when you look at the Contacts , Calendars , Tasks , and Memos buttons at bottom left in the program window. A virtual appointment calendar also shows up on the right side of the window, displaying several days.


Evolution summarizes all relevant account-specific setting options in the Account Editor, which you reach by right-clicking on the name of the desired email account in the folder tree of the primary window on the left, selecting Properties in the context menu, and then selecting one of the configuration groups on the left in the Account Editor dialog.

The Receiving Email and Sending Email options allow all necessary adjustments of the server settings. Also in the Account Editor, you will find all the important options for cryptographic handling of email in the Security tab (Figure 5), which is where you can manage S/MIME certificates and encrypt the contents with OpenPGP. However, you have to generate keys and certificates separately with GnuPG. The options are summarized in a comprehensible manner and can be activated in part simply by placing a check mark.

Figure 5: Evolution offers end-to-end encryption and digital signatures.

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