KMail – A Different Kind Of Email Client For KDE [Linux]

Danny Stieben 25-08-2011

linux email clientIf you’ve been following the pretty intense battles between the many different browsers, as well as the subtle but still important operating system battles, you’ll know that people are definitely scattered all over the place with their favorite choices. Email clients aren’t any exception either, as you’ll find people use various tools to manage their email, the two most popular being the Gmail website and the Thunderbird desktop app.


Today we’ll be looking at a top KDE choice that has plenty to offer for those of you who crave some power and control over their applications.

About KMail

linux email client

KMail is the default email client of the KDE desktop environment, which is available on a number of platforms, although primarily known for being on Linux. KMail ties into the KDE PIM suite, or KDE Personal Information Management suite, which is a collection of different programs, including KMail, personal organizers, and more.

The entire suite helps tie together the different functions of each program so that it becomes easier to use each one. Contacts can therefore be shared between Kmail and Korganizer, a calendar app. In the same way, events mentioned in an email can easily be added to your calendar on Korganizer with a single click. As KDE aims to be both elegant and powerful, you’ll have to expect a lot of different features and customization options for the KMail program.


If you’re running KDE, KMail should already be installed by default. If you’re running another desktop environment but wish to use KMail, you’ll need to install your distribution’s package for either KMail (if it’s packaged separately and therefore exists under that name), or kdepim. You’ll also need to accept the installation of the dependencies needed for the package.


Getting Started

kde email client

Unlike GNOME‘s 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 email client, you’ll find KMail in the Internet category of your menu instead of the Office category. Once you launch KMail, you’ll be greeted by the Tip of the Day followed by the Account Wizard. If that did not open, you can add your email account under Tools –> Account Wizard. Here you can enter in your information as is necessary. The instructions should not any different from, say, Outlook, as it’s all the same basic information (IMAP/POP3, SMTP, etc.).

Unique Features

kde email client

KMail has an interesting feature know as identities. Identities lets you choose under what name, email address, and other information you would like to send an email with. This is helpful when sending emails for both personal and professional purposes. If you have multiple email accounts you will need to use identities so that you can send out from each email account. You can find it as well as any other KMail settings under Settings –> Configure KMail.


kde email client

Speaking of the Configure KMail window, if you explore a bit you’ll find that there are a lot of options to configure. Not only can each account and identity be tweaked to perfectly suit the configuration that you want, but nearly every aspect of KMail can be changed as well. This can range from anything such as changing settings for the composer (including modifying templates), to the overall appearance of KMail, to a multitude of security features, some of which I’ve never even heard of. While competitors such as Thunderbird are perceived as highly configurable, KMail can wipe the floor with Thunderbird hands down in that category. There are enough features packed in here that virtually all Thunderbird add-ons would be redundant. If you can think of it, you can probably tweak it with KMail.

KMail makes excellent use of threaded conversation views, and offers all sorts of different ways to view the threads, as well as their ordering. If you want you can also turn off threaded conversations completely. Here, you can have your cake and eat it too.

This wonderful email client also makes great use of tabs. Instead of automatically opening new tabs whenever something is opened, tabs are used more as workspaces. Therefore, only you can make more tabs, and you can choose which folder or message to view in each tab. This is great if you wish to have a tab open for personal, professional, and other accounts all at the same time.


linux email client

Finally, KMail is proactive right out of the box by taking an anti-spam and anti-virus approach. Under the Tools menu you’ll find a wizard for each one to help configure the settings required to get those two components in working order. This is a great feature that isn’t included in most other Linux email clients that I know of.


KMail is a fantastic email client that does everything you need it to do. It is well designed and packed with built-in features. It even offers automatic support for GPG keys, so you can sign and encrypt your email securely and easily. Simply put, this is one heck of a powerhouse that can treat you like a God when configured right. If you’re a KDE user but haven’t tried out KMail, I highly suggest you do so before going back to your old client or website.

You may also find that although Kmail works fine in previous releases of KDE, the program has received plenty under the hood changes to run better and tie in better with Akonadi, the personal information framework that allows all the sharing of information between certain programs to take place.


What do you use as your email client (Gmail’s website included)? Do you feel like there’s something better out there? Let us know in the comments!

Related topics: Desktop Email Client, Email Tips, KDE.

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  1. Pizamoto
    October 30, 2011 at 2:23 am


    Please get back to us when you've been using Kmail for 4 or 5 years and have around 40,000 emails all filtered in the proper folders and sub folders and nested sub folders, 7 accounts, 15 calendars, and more contacts than you can remember all loaded up and running without a crash, an error message, or a loss of data.

    I've used Kmail, and it's not fantastic, with, or without, an exclamation mark. It was buggy, and did cause a loss of data (emails), and the filters are so last century. I understand it has changed several times in the last few years, and that's great. But, please, wait until it has passed the test of time before pronouncing it Fantastic!

    In the meantime, I'll be right here using T-Bird, and sleeping very well. :O) 

    • Danny Stieben
      November 6, 2011 at 12:50 am

      Strangely enough I haven't come across that many issues with KMail, and the version included with KDE 4.7 has even fewer issues for me. So I'm not quite sure why it's so buggy for other people, as you say.

      KMail still has its features and integration capabilities that make it "fantastic", or even innovative.

    • Anonymous
      June 22, 2015 at 8:06 am

      True. Been using KMail at work and it faild me big time. I lost emails and contacts what accually caused me to change my work.

      Kmail is ok for homework, but when you need to do filters, tags, move your m ail, categorize, and so on bugs came out. Beware! ;)

  2. George K.
    August 25, 2011 at 11:55 pm

    Another great feature of kmail is that after each time you log in KDE it asks for your email account's password, no matter if you chose to have it stored. If you enabled kwallet you will be asked for your 'master' password instead if you want to check your mail. I just use Thunderbird, even if it lacks such features.

    • Aibek
      August 29, 2011 at 1:15 pm

      Thundebird been my favorite for ages. Never fails.

    • Danny Stieben
      September 5, 2011 at 6:57 pm

      I've never had that problem. Are you sure your settings are correct?

  3. Frankish
    August 25, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    Yabbut, if you don't already have the KDE DE, then you're looking at this new mess of deps for kmail on a Debian Openbox machine:
    The following NEW packages will be installed:
    akonadi-server{a} kdebase-runtime{a} kdebase-runtime-data{a}
    kdelibs-bin{a} kdelibs5-data{a} kdelibs5-plugins{a} kdepim-runtime{a}
    kdepimlibs-kio-plugins{a} kdoctools{a} kmail libakonadi-contact4{a}
    libakonadi-kabc4{a} libakonadi-kcal4{a} libakonadi-kde4{a}
    libakonadi-kmime4{a} libakonadiprivate1{a} libattica0{a}
    libboost-program-options1.42.0{a} libclucene0ldbl{a} libgpgme++2{a}
    libgraphicsmagick3{a} libiodbc2{a} libkabc4{a} libkcal4{a}
    libkde3support4{a} libkdecore5{a} libkdepim4{a} libkdesu5{a} libkdeui5{a}
    libkdnssd4{a} libkfile4{a} libkhtml5{a} libkimap4{a} libkimproxy4{a}
    libkio5{a} libkjsapi4{a} libkjsembed4{a} libkldap4{a} libkleo4{a}
    libkmediaplayer4{a} libkmime4{a} libknewstuff2-4{a} libknewstuff3-4{a}
    libknotifyconfig4{a} libkntlm4{a} libkontactinterface4{a} libkparts4{a}
    libkpgp4{a} libkpimidentities4{a} libkpimtextedit4{a} libkpimutils4{a}
    libkpty4{a} libkresources4{a} libkrosscore4{a} libksieve4{a}
    libktexteditor4{a} libktnef4{a} libkutils4{a} libmailtransport4{a}
    libmessagecore4{a} libmessagelist4{a} libmicroblog4{a} libmimelib4{a}
    libmysqlclient16{a} libnepomuk4{a} libnepomukquery4a{a} libplasma3{a}
    libpolkit-qt-1-0{a} libqca2{a} libqgpgme1{a} libqt4-sql-mysql{a}
    libsolid4{a} libsoprano4{a} libssh-4{a} libstreamanalyzer0{a}
    libstreams0{a} libthreadweaver4{a} libxcb-shape0{a} libxine1{a}
    libxine1-console{a} libxine1-misc-plugins{a} libxine1-plugins{a}
    libxine1-x{a} libxml2-utils{a} mysql-common{a} mysql-server-core-5.1{a}
    oxygen-icon-theme{a} phonon{a} phonon-backend-xine{a}
    plasma-scriptengine-javascript{a} shared-desktop-ontologies{a}

    • Danny Stieben
      September 5, 2011 at 6:56 pm

      That is sadly true, KMail does have a lot of KDE dependencies as it's tightly integrated with that desktop.