The Best Linux Exchange Client: Getting Started With Hiri
Microsoft Exchange support exists on Linux, but it generally isn’t pretty. You can take this both literally and figuratively. You can add Microsoft Exchange support to Thunderbird with plugins but it isn’t intuitive, and while Evolution supports Microsoft Exchange, that app isn’t always user-friendly.
Hiri is a cross-platform app that succeeds in making Microsoft Exchange emails, contacts, calendars, and tasks both easy and enjoyable to use on Linux. Here’s why Hiri is the best Linux Exchange client and how to get started with it.
What Does Hiri Offer?
One of the main focuses of Hiri seems to be ease of use. This, combined with the design, which uses plenty of whitespace to keep things from looking cluttered, makes using the app a pleasant experience.
Hiri is opinionated about its design, which may or may not appeal to you. For example, the width of the center pane will always be the same regardless of the size of your monitor or the width of your window. The Hiri website says this is because the optimal length of a sentence is roughly 96 characters.
Both Hiri’s look and functionality are customizable with what it calls Skills. These are bits and pieces of functionality that you can enable and disable at will to add and remove features. The Dashboard Skill, for example, will remind you not to check your email too often. We’ll explore more of these Skills later in this article.
How Much Does Hiri Cost?
Unlike a lot of apps available for Linux, Hiri is not free software in either sense of the term. It is not free in that is not open source, nor is it available free of charge.
Hiri’s pricing structure is somewhat unusual as well. The app is not an outright purchase but instead uses a subscription model. Hiri is available for $39 per year, but also currently offers a lifetime license for $119. That seems simple enough, but when you buy the app also affects how much you’ll pay for it.
When you first install Hiri, you’ll immediately begin the free seven-day trial that the company offers. If you wait until the end of this period to subscribe, you’ll pay the price listed above. For each day earlier that you pay for the software, you’ll pay a little less.
If you pay on the first day, the annual subscription only costs $20, rather than the full $80. The price goes up each day until eventually it reaches the standard price. This is an unusual strategy, but if you install Hiri and love it immediately, paying right away can save you a little money.
Installing and Configuring Hiri
Because it’s proprietary and paid software, you won’t find Hiri in the software repositories of many Linux distributions. The Hiri team doesn’t create DEB or RPM packages either. Instead, they have offered to use the Snap format favored by Ubuntu.
This means that installing the software is very easy for most users. If you’re using Ubuntu, you can find Hiri in the Ubuntu Software app. For other distributions, as long as you have Snap installed, you can type the following to install Hiri:
sudo snap install hiri
If you can’t or don’t want to install Hiri via Snap, installation is still fairly simple. Head to the Hiri download page and click on the Linux option. Now open up your terminal and change to the directory that you downloaded Hiri to.
Next extract the archive file:
tar xf Hiri.tar.gz
Finally, move into the newly extracted folder and launch the app:
cd hiri ./hiri.sh
Adding Your Email Accounts
Once you launch the app, you’ll be prompted to enter the details for the accounts you want to use with Hiri. Enter your email address and then you’ll be prompted for your password. If your account uses two-factor authentication, you’ll need to create an app password to use with Hiri.
One thing to know before you start is that right now Hiri only supports the Microsoft email ecosystem. This means Exchange accounts, as well as outlook.com, hotmail.com, and live.com email addresses.
Right now, there is no support for other formats like IMAP, though the Hiri team has said that the company does plan to add this feature sometime in the future.
How to Use Hiri
How easy Hiri is to use depends on how much of a Microsoft Outlook power user you are. It’s actually going to be easier if you aren’t an Outlook master.
As an example, some keyboard shortcuts are the same as those found in Outlook , but not all of them. You can press Ctrl + R to reply to a message, but you’ll need to press Ctrl + N to create a new email instead of Ctrl + Shift + N as you would in Outlook.
Hiri is very much its own app, and if you think of it this way you’ll adapt to it quickly. If you’re frequently switching between Hiri and Outlook though, you’ll need to memorize two sets of keyboard shortcuts.
Choosing and Using Hiri Skills
A big part of using Hiri comes down to its Skills. To choose the Skills you want to use, head to the Skills Center by clicking the lightning bolt icon on the left sidebar.
If you want to narrow down email to just what you need to act on, you’ll want to enable the Action/FYI Skill. This separates email into two categories: Actionable is email that you need to do something with, while FYI is for all those unnecessary cc’d emails as well as any emails that are just informational.
The Task List Skill puts a Tasks pane at the side of your inbox, similar to the To-Do Bar in Outlook. This lets you see your tasks easily, while dragging an email into this box creates a new task.
The Reminders Skill adds a reminder icon to the Email Action Bar. This is similar to the Snooze functionality found in some other email clients, taking the email out of your inbox until a later date.
The Dashboard Skill, as mentioned above, is meant to save you from yourself when it comes to checking email. After 90 seconds of inactivity, a popup will launch, reminding you not to check your email too much.
There are a few other skills to help you write better subject lines, delegate emails, and get your inbox to zero. A new Skill is on the way as well that will let your rate emails. All of these are worth exploring to customize your email experience.
Looking for a Free Email Client Instead of Hiri?
For the most part, email is something a lot of people have grown used to using for free, and this extends to email clients. If you’re looking for another email app, either because you don’t want to spend the money or because you need IMAP support, you’ve got plenty of options.
Fortunately, you don’t need to waste time looking around. Check our list of the best email clients on Linux to find what you’re looking for.