Geary: A Quick And Simple Linux Email Client With Threaded Conversations

Justin Pot 16-05-2012

linux email clientsTry a simple email client, with Gmail-esque conversation structure. Geary is a lightweight email client for Linux that makes up for what it lacks in features with its speed and simplicity.


When it comes to Linux email clients, Thunderbird and Evolution How To Send Signed & Encrypted Email With Evolution [Linux] In today's technological world, sending encrypted messages between people has become an increasing standard. In order to secure your email communications, you need to sign and/or encrypt your emails. In Linux, this is an easy... Read More come to mind quickly. Both of these programs are great if you need advanced features–Mozilla Thunderbird offers access to add-ons, and Evolution supports Microsoft’s Exchange platform better than any Linux client out there. Both clients can feel heavy at times, however. Exploring their settings can be confusing, and they tend to run slowly on older hardware.

If you’d rather use something lighter, Geary might be what you’re looking for. This email client was released very recently, and is very much a work-in-progress. It’s very stable in its current form, however, so let’s check it out.

Using Geary

Start up Geary for the first time and you’ll see a very simple window:

linux email clients

If you’re a Gmail or Yahoo Mail user, logging in couldn’t be simpler: just pick your mail service and enter your username and password. (Gmail users: make sure IMAP is enabled in your Gmail settings or the client won’t work).


There is also support for any email account with IMAP, but setting this up will require some knowledge of the settings those programs require.

Once you’ve logged in you’ll see a very simple three-pain email interface:

linux client email

You can browse your various folders and tags at left; Gmail users will even find support for Starred messages and “All Mail”. I used this to look at my spam folder for the first time in months. Nothing of value was found.


linux client email

Buttons at the top allow you to quickly create a message, reply/reply-all/forward or archive a message. You get the idea: email.

Conversations are sorted as Gmail users expect them to be: as conversations. For those unfamiliar with this feature: emails that are part of the same reply chain are grouped together and displayed as though you’re looking at an online discussion in a forum. I don’t understand how to use email without this, so I’m glad to see Geary support it.

Options are minimal:


linux email clients

Obviously not every feature you’d love to see in an email client is here–you can’t use multiple email accounts, there are no email signatures and only IMAP is supported. Still: most of what you need to quickly check and reply to your email is. If you just want something fast that works well, Geary will work for you.

Install Geary

Ready to install Geary? You’ll find installation instructions on the developer’s blog.

Ubuntu users can set this up quickly by running two commands:


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

Non-Ubuntu users will need to compile the software, for now.


If you’re looking for a faster way to access your email, I recommend Geary. But I want to know what you think: could you see yourself using software like this? Or are there specific features lacking that you need? Fill me in in the comments below, because I love a discussion.

Related topics: Desktop Email Client, Email Tips.

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  1. Anonymous
    October 25, 2015 at 6:51 pm

    I was looking for something easy-to-use like android gmail app and geary is the answer.
    Easy, clean, no bells and whistles. Thank you!!

    • Justin Pot
      October 25, 2015 at 8:25 pm

      Glad this article is still helping people all these years later.

  2. Jose
    October 8, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    Recently, i just installed, and very simple to put a email and password, and i feel very clean, and very simply. i think geary should be default in ubuntu 12.10.

    • Justin Pot
      October 8, 2012 at 4:38 pm

      It's not quite ready to be the default, but it's pretty great. Glad you enjoy it.

  3. Kwasi Akrobotu
    July 3, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    I want an email editor that is far simpler to use than gmail and yahoo mail. After attaching files in gmail and clicking done, one is not returned to the message making it impossible to send the message. One is therefore stuck at with the window that is used to attach the files.

    I want an editor that returns me to the message window thus enabling me to send my message after attaching my files. Sure yahoo mail does that, but it takes forever to attach even a 2 megabyte file.

    Is Geary any better?

    • Justin Pot
      July 3, 2012 at 7:48 pm

      I didn't know there was a window in Gmail for attaching files. You can simply click-and-drag from your file browser to your message; no window involved. I can't remember the last time I saw an "upload" window.

      Geary works the same way I believe, but I'm not going to say it's any better.

  4. BrianN
    May 17, 2012 at 2:54 am

    I'll definitely give this a try. I'm a big fan of Thunderbird although it is a little resource heavy for older machines. These days i'm just happy I don't have to use Outlook though. In my opinion it's just got too big to do what it was originally meant for, kind of like iTunes!

    • Justin Pot
      May 17, 2012 at 2:40 pm

      I used to do a lot of tech support for Outlook users. I'm certain there is a circle in hell where all you get to do is tech support for Outlook users.

      "It's slow!"

      "You have a 20 gig database full of emails and attachments you never look at."

      "It's slow! Fix it!"

  5. kneekoo
    May 17, 2012 at 2:29 am

    Whatever point makes sens to some people, it's still irrelevant which point is better. The most important "point" is for people to have choices. Those satisfied with Geary's abilities will most likely love it for its simplicity. Sure it will evolve - it's just at version 0.1 so there's certainly a good upgrade path ahead.

    For now, I welcome the development of this new mail client. In the future it might be a great option for light-weight distros, because there are a few light-weight e-mail clients but their interfaces are not exactly cute. So if another developers takes a swing at a new one, that's great. So far it looks quite decent and considering it has IMAP already, I might as well try it because that's how I use Thunderbird. :)

    Note to the author: "simple three-pain email interface" - that should be "three-pane" - definitely not "pain". :P

    • Justin Pot
      May 17, 2012 at 2:38 pm

      You hit the nail on the head with the choice thing: that's what Linux is all about. That's why I love Linux, and don't understand when people get upset about which system is "better".

      The "pain" thing is embarrassing. I'm going to take this opportunity to blame my editors. :)

      No, seriously: without my editors I'm even worse.

  6. Bob Henson
    May 16, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    I can't see any point in it at all if it can't handle POP3, which is the only sensible way to handle e-mail.

    • Justin Pot
      May 17, 2012 at 2:34 pm

      This better be sarcasm, or I'm very confused. POP3 is antiquated, with no possible advantage over IMAP.

  7. AndyD
    May 16, 2012 at 5:42 pm

    Not sure there is much point in using Geary, since you can already use Gmail as a desktop email client. I think Linux lacks a truly decent email client, certainly from a business standpoint.
    Outlook smashes Thunderbird and Evolution when seeking a business capable client. Still if you do have an older machine, may be its a good idea to give it a whirl

    • Justin Pot
      May 17, 2012 at 2:36 pm

      I can't stand Outlook, myself, but to each their own. I'm glad there's choice out there, and Geary is another thing to choose from.

      • Ivan
        June 6, 2012 at 7:06 pm

        Althou it looks nice, and have some nice things Geary isn't that usable. One day when it get's support for using multiple accounts at once i will surely recommend it, but now i don't see any sense of using it. Using desktop mail client is all about having multiple mail accounts, when you don't have that you could just use web app (gmail has a great one, and google's implementation of features is really great)

        • branimir
          October 8, 2012 at 6:42 pm

          Ivane how to i get geary not to close when i press x. But simply to go to messaging menu? Anybody?