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Tips and Tricks for using Notmuch with Emacs

Here are some tips and tricks for using Notmuch with Emacs. See the Notmuch Emacs Interface page for basics.

  1. Tips and Tricks for using Notmuch with Emacs
    1. Controlling external handlers for attachments
    2. Overwriting the sender address
    3. Initial cursor position in notmuch 0.15 hello window
    4. Add a key binding to add/remove/toggle a tag
    5. Adding many tagging keybindings
    6. Restore reply-to-all key binding to 'r'
    7. How to do FCC/BCC...
    8. How to customize notmuch-saved-searches
    9. Viewing HTML messages with an external viewer
    10. msmtp, message mode and multiple accounts
    11. sending mail using smtpmail
    12. Address completion when composing
    13. How to sign/encrypt messages with gpg
    14. Reading and verifying encrypted and signed messages
    15. Multiple identities using gnus-alias
    16. Multiple identities (and more) with message-templ
    17. Resending (or bouncing) messages
    18. notmuch-hello refresh status message
    19. Replacing tabs with spaces in subject and header
    20. Hiding unread messages in notmuch-show
    21. Changing the color of a saved search based on some other search
    22. Linking to notmuch messages and threads from the Circe IRC client
    23. Linking to notmuch messages from org-mode
    24. Viewing diffs in notmuch
    25. Interfacing with Patchwork
    26. Never forget attachments
    27. Avoid forgetting the subject
    28. Applying patches to git repositories
    29. Allow content preference based on message context
    30. See the recipient address instead of your address when listing sent messages
    31. Issues with Emacs 24 (unsupported since notmuch 0.31 (2020-09-05))

Controlling external handlers for attachments

You can choose e.g. which pdf viewer to invoke from notmuch-show mode by adding a .mailcap file in your home directory. Here is an example:

application/pdf; /usr/bin/mupdf %s; test=test "$DISPLAY" != ""; description=Portable Document Format; nametemplate=%s.pdf
application/x-pdf; /usr/bin/mupdf %s; test=test "$DISPLAY" != ""; description=Portable Document Format; nametemplate=%s.pdf

Convert ".pdf" and ".docx" to text and pop to buffer

Add the following (hacky but effective!) code to .emacs.d/notmuch-config.el; the overwritten defcustom will change action when pressing RET on top of an attachment; ".pdf" and ".docx" attachments are converted to text (using "pdf2text" and "" commands to do the conversion), saving to file (the default action of notmuch-show-part-button-default-action) is offered to attachments of other types.

(defun user/mm-pipe-- (handle cmd)
  ;; conveniently, '-' '-' a args to pdftotext and work fine
  ;; fixme: naming inconsistency (fn name and buffer name)
  (let ((buffer (get-buffer-create "*attachment-to-text*")))
    (with-current-buffer buffer
      (setq buffer-read-only nil)
      ;; "based on mm-pipe-part in mm-decode.el"
    (mm-insert-part handle)
    (mm-add-meta-html-tag handle)
    (let ((coding-system-for-write 'binary))
      (call-process-region (point-min) (point-max)
                           cmd nil buffer nil "-" "-"))))
    (pop-to-buffer buffer)
    (goto-char (point-min))

(defun user/notmuch-show-pop-attachment-to-buffer ()
  ;; "based on notmuch-show-apply-to-current-part-handle"
  (let ((handle (notmuch-show-current-part-handle)))
    ;;(message "%s" handle)
    (pcase (car (nth 1 handle))
       (user/mm-pipe-- handle "pdftotext"))
       (user/mm-pipe-- handle ""))
      (_ (notmuch-show-save-part)))
      (kill-buffer (mm-handle-buffer handle)))))

(setq notmuch-show-part-button-default-action

Overwriting the sender address

If you want to always use the same sender address, then the following defadvice can help you.

   (defadvice notmuch-mua-reply (around notmuch-fix-sender)
     (let ((sender "Max Monster <>"))
   (ad-activate 'notmuch-mua-reply)

Initial cursor position in notmuch 0.15 hello window

In notmuch version 0.15 emacs client the handling of cursor position in notmuch hello window has been simplified to a version which suits best most cases.

Initially the cursor is positioned at the beginning of buffer.

Some users liked the "ancient" version where cursor was moved to the first Saved searches button.

Add the following code to your notmuch emacs configuration file in case you want this behaviour:

    (add-hook 'notmuch-hello-refresh-hook
              (lambda ()
                (if (and (eq (point) (point-min))
                         (search-forward "Saved searches:" nil t))
                      (widget-forward 1))
                  (if (eq (widget-type (widget-at)) 'editable-field)

Add a key binding to add/remove/toggle a tag

The notmuch-{search,show,tree}-tag functions are very useful for making quick tag key bindings. The arguments to these functions have changed as notmuch has evolved but the following should work on all versions of notmuch from 0.13 on. These functions take a list of tag changes as argument. For example, an argument of (list "+spam" "-inbox") adds the tag spam and deletes the tag inbox. Note the argument must be a list even if there is only a single tag change e.g., use (list "+deleted") to add the deleted tag.

For instance, here's an example of how to make a key binding to add the "spam" tag and remove the "inbox" tag in notmuch-show-mode:

    (define-key notmuch-show-mode-map "S"
      (lambda ()
        "mark message as spam"
        (notmuch-show-tag (list "+spam" "-inbox"))))

You can do the same for threads in notmuch-search-mode by just replacing "show" with "search" in the keymap and called functions, or for messages in notmuch-tree-mode by replacing "show" by "tree". If you want to tag a whole thread in notmuch-tree-mode use notmuch-tree-tag-thread instead of notmuch-tree-tag.

You may also want the function in search mode apply to the all threads in the selected region (if there is one). For notmuch prior to 0.17 this behaviour will occur automatically with the functions given above. To get this behaviour on 0.17+ do the following:

    (define-key notmuch-search-mode-map "S"
      (lambda (&optional beg end)
        "mark thread as spam"
        (interactive (notmuch-interactive-region))
        (notmuch-search-tag (list "+spam" "-inbox") beg end)))

The analogous functionality in notmuch-tree is currently missing.

The definitions above make use of a lambda function, but you could also define a separate function first:

    (defun notmuch-show-tag-spam ()
      "mark message as spam"
      (notmuch-show-add-tag (list "+spam" "-inbox")))

    (define-key notmuch-show-mode-map "S" 'notmuch-show-tag-spam)

Here's a more complicated example of how to add a toggle "deleted" key:

    (define-key notmuch-show-mode-map "d"
      (lambda ()
        "toggle deleted tag for message"
        (if (member "deleted" (notmuch-show-get-tags))
            (notmuch-show-tag (list "-deleted"))
          (notmuch-show-tag (list "+deleted")))))

Adding many tagging keybindings

If you want to have have many tagging keybindings, you can save the typing the few lines of boilerplate for every binding (for versions before 0.12, you will need to change notmuch-show-apply-tag-macro).

(eval-after-load 'notmuch-show
  '(define-key notmuch-show-mode-map "`" 'notmuch-show-apply-tag-macro))

(setq notmuch-show-tag-macro-alist
   '("m" "+notmuch::patch" "+notmuch::moreinfo" "-notmuch::needs-review")
   '("n" "+notmuch::patch" "+notmuch::needs-review" "-notmuch::pushed")
   '("o" "+notmuch::patch" "+notmuch::obsolete"
         "-notmuch::needs-review" "-notmuch::moreinfo")
   '("p" "-notmuch::pushed" "-notmuch::needs-review"
     "-notmuch::moreinfo" "+pending")
   '("P" "-pending" "-notmuch::needs-review" "-notmuch::moreinfo" "+notmuch::pushed")
   '("r" "-notmuch::patch" "+notmuch::review")
   '("s" "+notmuch::patch" "-notmuch::obsolete" "-notmuch::needs-review" "-notmuch::moreinfo" "+notmuch::stale")
   '("t" "+notmuch::patch" "-notmuch::needs-review" "+notmuch::trivial")
   '("w" "+notmuch::patch" "+notmuch::wip" "-notmuch::needs-review")))

(defun notmuch-show-apply-tag-macro (key)
  (interactive "k")
  (let ((macro (assoc key notmuch-show-tag-macro-alist)))
    (apply 'notmuch-show-tag-message (cdr macro))))

Restore reply-to-all key binding to 'r'

Starting from notmuch 0.12 the 'r' key is bound to reply-to-sender instead of reply-to-all. Here's how to swap the reply to sender/all bindings in show mode:

    (define-key notmuch-show-mode-map "r" 'notmuch-show-reply)
    (define-key notmuch-show-mode-map "R" 'notmuch-show-reply-sender)

In search mode:

    (define-key notmuch-search-mode-map "r" 'notmuch-search-reply-to-thread)
    (define-key notmuch-search-mode-map "R" 'notmuch-search-reply-to-thread-sender)

And in tree mode:

    (define-key notmuch-tree-mode-map "r" (notmuch-tree-close-message-pane-and #'notmuch-show-reply))
    (define-key notmuch-tree-mode-map "R" (notmuch-tree-close-message-pane-and #'notmuch-show-reply-sender))

How to do FCC/BCC...

The Emacs interface to notmuch will automatically add an Fcc header to your outgoing mail so that any messages you send will also be saved in your mail store. You can control where this copy of the message is saved by setting the variable notmuch-fcc-dirs which defines the subdirectory relative to the database.path setting from your notmuch configuration in which to save the mail. Enter a directory (without the maildir /cur ending which will be appended automatically). Additional information can be found as usual using:

   M-x describe-variable notmuch-fcc-dirs

An additional variable that can affect FCC settings in some cases is message-directory. Emacs message-mode uses this variable for postponed messages.

To customize both variables at the same time, use the fancy command:

    M-x customize-apropos<RET>\(notmuch-fcc-dirs\)\|\(message-directory\)

This mechanism also allows you to select different folders to be used for the outgoing mail depending on your selected From address. Please see the documentation for the variable notmuch-fcc-dirs in the customization window for how to arrange this.

The notmuch-fcc-dirs variable is only taken into account when mails are composed using notmuch-mua-mail. If you want to use the notmuch mail user agent by default, the mail-user-agent needs to be customized to use the notmuch-user-agent.

How to customize notmuch-saved-searches

When starting notmuch, a list of saved searches and message counts is displayed, replacing the older notmuch-folders command. The set of saved searches displayed can be modified directly from the notmuch interface (using the [save] button next to a previous search) or by customising the variable notmuch-saved-searches.

An example setting for notmuch versions up to 0.17.x might be:

    (setq notmuch-saved-searches '(("inbox" . "tag:inbox")
                    ("unread" . "tag:inbox AND tag:unread")
                    ("notmuch" . "tag:inbox AND")))

Starting from notmuch 0.18 the variable changed. It is backwards compatible so the above will still work but the new style will be used if you use customize and there are some new features available. The above would become

    (setq notmuch-saved-searches '((:name "inbox" :query "tag:inbox")
                    (:name "unread" :query "tag:inbox AND tag:unread")
                    (:name "notmuch" :query "tag:inbox AND")))

The additional features are the possibility to set the search order for the search, and the possibility to specify a different query for displaying the count for the saved-search. For example

    (setq notmuch-saved-searches '((:name "inbox"
                                    :query "tag:inbox"
                                    :count-query "tag:inbox and tag:unread"
                                    :sort-order oldest-first)))

specifies a single saved search for inbox, but the number displayed by the search will be the number of unread messages in the inbox, and the sort order for this search will be oldest-first.

Of course, you can have any number of saved searches, each configured with any supported search terms (see "notmuch help search-terms"), and in the new style variable they can each have different count-queries and sort orders.

Some users find it useful to add and not tag:delete to those searches, as they use the delete tag to mark messages as deleted. This causes messages that are marked as deleted to be removed from the commonly used views of messages. Use whatever seems most useful to you.

Viewing HTML messages with an external viewer

The Emacs client can generally display HTML messages inline using one of the supported HTML renderers. This is controlled by the mm-text-html-renderer variable.

Sometimes it may be necessary to display the message, or a single MIME part, in an external browser. This can be done by (notmuch-show-view-part), bound to . v by default.

This command will try to view the message part the point is on with an external viewer. The mime-type of the part will determine what viewer will be used. Typically a 'text/html' part will be send to your browser.

The configuration for this is kept in so called mailcap files. (typically the file is ~/.mailcap or /etc/mailcap) If the wrong viewer is started or something else goes wrong, there's a good chance something needs to be adapted in the mailcap configuration.

For Example: The copiousoutput setting in mailcap files needs to be removed for some mime-types to prevent immediate removal of temporary files so the configured viewer can access them.

msmtp, message mode and multiple accounts

As an alternative to running a mail server such as sendmail or postfix just to send email, it is possible to use msmtp. This small application will look like /usr/bin/sendmail to a MUA such as emacs message mode, but will just forward the email to an external SMTP server. It's fairly easy to set up and it supports several accounts for using different SMTP servers. The msmtp pages have several examples.

A typical scenario is that you want to use the company SMTP server for email coming from your company email address, and your personal server for personal email. If msmtp is passed the envelope address on the command line (the -f/--from option) it will automatically pick the matching account. The only trick here seems to be getting emacs to actually pass the envelope from. There are a number of overlapping configuration variables that control this, and it's a little confusion, but setting these three works for me:

With that in place, you need a .msmtprc with the accounts configured for the domains you want to send out using specific SMTP servers and the rest will go to the default account.

sending mail using smtpmail

If setting up local sendmail or msmtp is not feasible or desirable, the Emacs smtpmail package can be used to send email by talking to remote SMTP server via TCP connection. It is pretty easy to configure:

  1. Emacs variable message-send-mail-function has not been set

    Initially, Emacs variable message-send-mail-function has value of sendmail-query-once. When (notmuch) message mode is about to send email, sendmail-query-once will ask how emacs should send email. Typing smtp will configure smtpmail and Emacs may prompt for SMTP settings.

  2. M-x customize-group RET smtpmail

    As a minimum, 'Smtpmail Smtp Server' needs to be set.

    After doing that, continue with M-x load-library RET message and M-x customize-variable RET message-send-mail-function. In the customization buffer select message-smtpmail-send-it.

  3. Set some variables in .emacs or in notmuch init file

     (setq smtpmail-smtp-server "smtp.server.tld" ;; <-- edit this !!!
     ;;    smtpmail-smtp-service 25 ;; 25 is default -- uncomment and edit if needed
     ;;    smtpmail-stream-type 'starttls
     ;;    smtpmail-debug-info t
     ;;    smtpmail-debug-verb t
           message-send-mail-function 'message-smtpmail-send-it)

Note that emacs 24 or newer is required for smtpmail-stream-type (and smtp authentication) to be effective.

More information for smtpmail is available:

Address completion when composing

There are currently three solutions to this:

notmuch address

Starting with Notmuch 0.21, there is a builtin command to perform autocompletion directly within Notmuch. Starting with 0.22, it is configured by default, so if you have previously configured another completion mechanism, you may want to try out the new internal method. Use M-x customize-variable RET notmuch-address-command and reset the value to "internal address completion" ('internal in lisp).

If you are not yet running 0.22, you can still use it by adding a wrapper around the command called, say, notmuch-address:

exec notmuch address from:"$*"

Then you can set the notmuch-address-command to notmuch-address (if it is in your $PATH of course, otherwise use an absolute path).


bbdb is a contact database for emacs that works quite nicely together with message mode, including address autocompletion.

notmuch database as an address book

You can also use the notmuch database as a mail address book itself. To do this you need a command line tool that outputs likely address candidates based on a search string. There are currently four available:

You can perform tab-completion using any of these programs. Just add the following to your notmuch init file:

    (require 'notmuch-address)
    (setq notmuch-address-command "/path/to/address_fetching_program")

Google Contacts

GooBook is a command-line tool for accessing Google Contacts. Install and set it up according to its documentation.

To use GooBook with notmuch, use this wrapper script and set it up like the programs above.

    goobook query "$*" | sed 's/\(.*\)\t\(.*\)\t.*/\2 \<\1\>/' | sed '/^$/d'

You can add the sender of a message to Google Contacts by piping the message (notmuch-show-pipe-message) to goobook add.


    git clone

Install the development packages for kdepim on your system. Enter the cloned repository and create a build directory:

    mkdir build
    cd build
    cmake ..; make;

You will find the akonadimailsearch binary in the build/src directory. Copy it to ~/bin .

You can now add the following settings to your notmuch init file:

    (require 'notmuch-address)
    (setq notmuch-address-command "~/bin/akonadimailsearch")

Completion selection with helm

An address query might return multiple possible matches from which you will have to select one. To ease this task, several different frameworks in emacs support completion selection. One of them is helm. The following snippet improves the out-of-the-box support for helm in notmuch as it enables the required-match option and also does not ignore the first returned address.

    (setq notmuch-address-selection-function
      (lambda (prompt collection initial-input)
        (completing-read prompt (cons initial-input collection) nil t nil 'notmuch-address-history)))

How to sign/encrypt messages with gpg

Messages can be signed using gpg by invoking M-x mml-secure-sign-pgpmime (or M-x mml-secure-encrypt-pgpmime). These functions are available via the standard message-mode keybindings C-c C-m s p and C-c C-m c p.

In Emacs 28 you will be asked whether to sign the message using the sender and are offered to remember your choice. In Emacs 27 you will get a slightly misleading error and have to manually add the following line to you init file. Older Emacsen just do this unconditionally.

    (setq mml-secure-openpgp-sign-with-sender t)

To sign outgoing mail by default, use the message-setup-hook in your init file:

    ;; Sign messages by default.
    (add-hook 'message-setup-hook 'mml-secure-sign-pgpmime)

This inserts the required <#part sign=pgpmime> into the beginning of the mail text body and will be converted into a pgp signature when sending (so one can just manually delete that line if signing is not required).

Alternatively, you may prefer to use mml-secure-message-sign-pgpmime instead of mml-secure-sign-pgpmime to sign the whole message instead of just one part.

If you want to automatically encrypt outgoing messages if the keyring contains a public key for every recipient, you can add something like that to your .emacs file:

(defun message-recipients ()
  "Return a list of all recipients in the message, looking at TO, CC and BCC.

Each recipient is in the format of `mail-extract-address-components'."
  (mapcan (lambda (header)
            (let ((header-value (message-fetch-field header)))
               (mail-extract-address-components header-value t))))
          '("To" "Cc" "Bcc")))

(defun message-all-epg-keys-available-p ()
  "Return non-nil if the pgp keyring has a public key for each recipient."
  (require 'epa)
  (let ((context (epg-make-context epa-protocol)))
    (catch 'break
      (dolist (recipient (message-recipients))
        (let ((recipient-email (cadr recipient)))
          (when (and recipient-email (not (epg-list-keys context recipient-email)))
            (throw 'break nil))))

(defun message-sign-encrypt-if-all-keys-available ()
  "Add MML tag to encrypt message when there is a key for each recipient.

Consider adding this function to `message-send-hook' to
systematically send encrypted emails when possible."
  (when (message-all-epg-keys-available-p)

(add-hook 'message-send-hook #'message-sign-encrypt-if-all-keys-available

Troubleshooting message-mode gpg support

Reading and verifying encrypted and signed messages

Encrypted and signed mime messages can be read and verified with:

    (setq notmuch-crypto-process-mime t)

Decrypting inline pgp messages can be done by selecting an the inline pgp area and using:

    M-x epa-decrypt-region RET

Verifying of inline pgp messages is not supported directly (reasons here). You can still verify a part using

    M-x notmuch-show-pipe-part RET gpg --verify RET

Multiple identities using gnus-alias

gnus-alias allows you to define multiple identities when using message-mode. You can specify the from address, organization, extra headers (including Bcc), extra body text, and signature for each identity. Identities are chosen based on a set of rules. When you are in message mode, you can switch identities using gnus-alias.


Looking into gnus-alias.el gives a bit more information...

Example Configuration

Here is an example configuration.

    ;; Define two identities, "home" and "work"
    (setq gnus-alias-identity-alist
             nil ;; Does not refer to any other identity
             "John Doe <>" ;; Sender address
             nil ;; No organization header
             nil ;; No extra headers
             nil ;; No extra body text
             "John Doe <>"
             "Example Corp."
             (("Bcc" . ""))
    ;; Use "home" identity by default
    (setq gnus-alias-default-identity "home")
    ;; Define rules to match work identity
    (setq gnus-alias-identity-rules
          '(("work" ("any" "john.doe@\\(example\\.com\\|help\\\\)" both) "work")))
    ;; Determine identity when message-mode loads
    (add-hook 'message-setup-hook 'gnus-alias-determine-identity)

When gnus-alias has been loaded (using autoload, require, M-x load-library or M-x load-file (load-file takes file path -- therefore it can be used without any .emacs changes)) the following commands can be used to get(/set) more information (some of these have "extensive documentation"):

    M-x describe-variable RET gnus-alias-identity-alist
    M-x describe-variable RET gnus-alias-identity-rules
    M-x describe-variable RET gnus-alias-default-identity

    M-x customize-group RET gnus-alias RET
    M-x gnus-alias-customize RET

The last two do the same thing.

See also the Usage: section in gnus-alias.el.

Multiple identities (and more) with message-templ

Another option for multiple identities is message-templ (also a available in marmalade). This provides roughly the same facilities as wanderlust's template facility.

See example.emacs.el for some simple examples of usage.

Resending (or bouncing) messages

Add the following to your notmuch init file to be able to resend the current message in show mode.

    (define-key notmuch-show-mode-map "b"
      (lambda (&optional address)
        "Bounce the current message."
        (interactive "sBounce To: ")
        (message-resend address)))

notmuch-hello refresh status message

Add the following to your notmuch init file to get a status message about the change in the number of messages in the mail store when refreshing the notmuch-hello buffer.

    (defvar notmuch-hello-refresh-count 0)

    (defun notmuch-hello-refresh-status-message ()
      (unless no-display
        (let* ((new-count
                 (car (process-lines notmuch-command "count"))))
               (diff-count (- new-count notmuch-hello-refresh-count)))
           ((= notmuch-hello-refresh-count 0)
            (message "You have %s messages."
                     (notmuch-hello-nice-number new-count)))
           ((> diff-count 0)
            (message "You have %s more messages since last refresh."
                     (notmuch-hello-nice-number diff-count)))
           ((< diff-count 0)
            (message "You have %s fewer messages since last refresh."
                     (notmuch-hello-nice-number (- diff-count)))))
          (setq notmuch-hello-refresh-count new-count))))

    (add-hook 'notmuch-hello-refresh-hook 'notmuch-hello-refresh-status-message)

Replacing tabs with spaces in subject and header

Mailman mailing list software rewrites and rewraps long message subjects in a way that causes TABs to appear in the middle of the subject and header lines. Add this to your notmuch init file to replace tabs with spaces in subject lines:

    (defun notmuch-show-subject-tabs-to-spaces ()
      "Replace tabs with spaces in subject line."
      (goto-char (point-min))
      (when (re-search-forward "^Subject:" nil t)
        (while (re-search-forward "\t" (line-end-position) t)
          (replace-match " " nil nil))))

    (add-hook 'notmuch-show-markup-headers-hook 'notmuch-show-subject-tabs-to-spaces)

And in header lines:

    (defun notmuch-show-header-tabs-to-spaces ()
      "Replace tabs with spaces in header line."
      (setq header-line-format
             (replace-regexp-in-string "\t" " " (notmuch-show-get-subject)))))

    (add-hook 'notmuch-show-hook 'notmuch-show-header-tabs-to-spaces)

Hiding unread messages in notmuch-show

I like to have an inbox saved search, but only show unread messages when they view a thread. This takes two steps:

  1. Apply this patch from Mark Walters to add the notmuch-show-filter-thread function.
  2. Add the following hook to your emacs configuration:

     (defun expand-only-unread-hook () (interactive)
       (let ((unread nil)
             (open (notmuch-show-get-message-ids-for-open-messages)))
         (notmuch-show-mapc (lambda ()
                              (when (member "unread" (notmuch-show-get-tags))
                                (setq unread t))))
         (when unread
           (let ((notmuch-show-hook (remove 'expand-only-unread-hook notmuch-show-hook)))
             (notmuch-show-filter-thread "tag:unread")))))
     (add-hook 'notmuch-show-hook 'expand-only-unread-hook)

Changing the color of a saved search based on some other search

I like to have a saved search for my inbox, but have it change color when there are thread with unread messages in the inbox. I accomplish this with the following code in my emacs config:

    (defun color-inbox-if-unread () (interactive)
        (goto-char (point-min))
        (let ((cnt (car (process-lines "notmuch" "count" "tag:inbox and tag:unread"))))
          (when (> (string-to-number cnt) 0)
              (when (search-forward "inbox" (point-max) t)
                (let* ((overlays (overlays-in (match-beginning 0) (match-end 0)))
                       (overlay (car overlays)))
                  (when overlay
                    (overlay-put overlay 'face '((:inherit bold) (:foreground "green")))))))))))
    (add-hook 'notmuch-hello-refresh-hook 'color-inbox-if-unread)

Linking to notmuch messages and threads from the Circe IRC client

Circe is an IRC client for emacs. To have clickable buttons for notmuch messages and threads, add the following to lui-buttons-list (using, e.g. M-x customize-variable)

("\\(?:id\\|mid\\|thread\\):[0-9A-Za-z][0-9A-Za-z.@-]*" 0 notmuch-show 0)

If you have notmuch-pick installed, it works fine for this as well.

Linking to notmuch messages from org-mode

Support for linking to notmuch messages is distributed with org-mode, but as a contrib file, so you might have to work a bit to load it.

In Debian and derivatives,

(add-to-list 'load-path "/usr/share/org-mode/lisp")

In NixOS, using emacsWithPackages (epkgs: [ ]),

(loop for p in load-path
      do (if (file-accessible-directory-p p)
             (let ((m (directory-files-recursively p "^ol-notmuch.el$")))
                  (if m (add-to-list 'load-path (file-name-directory (car m)))))))


(require 'ol-notmuch)

In general it is nice to have a key for org-links (not just for notmuch). For example

(define-key global-map "\C-c l" 'org-store-link)

If you're using use-package the package can be loaded using the following:

(use-package ol-notmuch
  :ensure t
  ("C-c l" . org-store-link))

Note the package was renamed from org-notmuch to ol-notmuch in recent versions of org-mode. If you're using an old version of notmuch you might want to (require 'org-notmuch) instead.

Viewing diffs in notmuch

The following code allows you to view an inline patch in diff-mode directly from notmuch. This means that normal diff-mode commands like refine, next hunk etc all work.

(defun my-notmuch-show-view-as-patch ()
  "View the the current message as a patch."
  (let* ((id (notmuch-show-get-message-id))
         (msg (notmuch-show-get-message-properties))
         (part (notmuch-show-get-part-properties))
         (subject (concat "Subject: " (notmuch-show-get-subject) "\n"))
         (diff-default-read-only t)
         (buf (get-buffer-create (concat "*notmuch-patch-" id "*")))
         (map (make-sparse-keymap)))
    (define-key map "q" 'notmuch-bury-or-kill-this-buffer)
    (switch-to-buffer buf)
    (let ((inhibit-read-only t))
      (insert subject)
      (insert (notmuch-get-bodypart-text msg part nil)))
    (set-buffer-modified-p nil)
    (lexical-let ((new-ro-bind (cons 'buffer-read-only map)))
                 (add-to-list 'minor-mode-overriding-map-alist new-ro-bind))
    (goto-char (point-min))))

and then this function needs to bound to . d in the keymap

(define-key 'notmuch-show-part-map "d" 'my-notmuch-show-view-as-patch)

Interfacing with Patchwork

Patchwork is a web-based system for tracking patches sent to a mailing list. While the Notmuch project doesn't use it, many other open source projects do. Having an easy way to get from a patch email in your favorite mail client to the web page of the patch in the Patchwork instance is a cool thing to have. Here's how to abuse the notmuch stash feature to achieve this. (Don't know stash? See notmuch-show-stash-mlarchive-link, bound to c l in notmuch-show.)

The trick needed is turning the email Message-ID into a unique Patchwork ID assigned by Patchwork. We'll use the pwclient command-line tool to achieve this. You'll first need to get that working and configured for the Patchwork instance you're using. That part is beyond this tip here; please refer to Patchwork documentation.

Check your configuration on the command-line, for example:

/path/to/pwclient -p <the-project> -n 5 -f "%{id}"

Note that the -f format argument may require a reasonably new version of the client. Once you have the above working, you can M-x customize-variable RET notmuch-show-stash-mlarchive-link-alist RET.

Add a new entry with "Function returning the URL:" set to:

(lambda (message-id)
  (concat ""
          (nth 0
               (process-lines "/path/to/pwclient" "search"
                              "-p" "the-project"
                              "-m" (concat "<" message-id ">")
                              "-n" "1"
                              "-f" "%{id}"))))

Replacing, /path/to/pwclient, and the-project appropriately. You should now be able to stash the Patchwork URL using c l.

Going further, if the patch has been committed, you can get the commit hash with this:

(lambda (message-id)
  (nth 0
       (process-lines "/path/to/pwclient" "search"
                      "-p" "the-project"
                      "-m" (concat "<" message-id ">")
                      "-n" "1"
                      "-f" "%{commit_ref}")))

And finally, if the project has a web interface to its source repository, you can turn the commit hash into a URL pointing there, for example:

(lambda (message-id)
  (concat ""
          (nth 0
               (process-lines "/path/to/pwclient" "search"
                              "-p" "the-project"
                              "-m" (concat "<" message-id ">")
                              "-n" "1"
                              "-f" "%{commit_ref}"))))

Never forget attachments

Very often we forget to actually attach the file when we send an email that's supposed to have an attachment. Did this never happen to you? If not, then it will.

Since version 0.29 Notmuch includes the notmuch-mua-attachment-check function. This function checks whether a message references an attachment and if it finds none it asks for confirmation before sending the message. The function is meant to be added to the message-send-hook, like so:

(add-hook 'message-send-hook 'notmuch-mua-attachment-check)

The "customize"able variable notmuch-mua-attachment-regexp controls how reference to an attachment are identified. By default, it identifies English and French terms. For example, the following makes it recognise English and Portuguese terms:

(setq-default notmuch-mua-attachment-regexp

Avoid forgetting the subject

It happens that we forget to enter the Subject line, particularly when we leave that to the end. It's easy to write a function that checks whether the Subject is empty, and add it to message-send-hook to get confirmation:

(defun my-notmuch-mua-empty-subject-check ()
  "Request confirmation before sending a message with empty subject"
  (when (and (null (message-field-value "Subject"))
             (not (y-or-n-p "Subject is empty, send anyway? ")))
    (error "Sending message cancelled: empty subject.")))
(add-hook 'message-send-hook 'my-notmuch-mua-empty-subject-check)

Applying patches to git repositories

The notmuch-extract-thread-patches and notmuch-extract-message-patches commands from the elpa-mailscripts package in Debian (and its derivatives) can do this for you.

Allow content preference based on message context

The preference for which sub-part of a multipart/alternative part is shown is globally set. For example, if you prefer showing the html version over the text based, you can set:

(setq notmuch-multipart/alternative-discouraged '("text/plain" "text/html"))

However, sometimes you might want to adapt your preference depending on the context. You can override the default settings on a per-message basis by providing a function that has access to the message and which returns the discouraged type list. For example:

(defun my/determine-discouraged (msg)
  (let* ((headers (plist-get msg :headers))
         (from (or (plist-get headers :From) "")))
     ((string-match "" from)
      '("text/html" "multipart/related")))))

(setq notmuch-multipart/alternative-discouraged

This would discourage text/html and multipart/related generally, but discourage text/plain should the message be sent from

See the recipient address instead of your address when listing sent messages

If you like to see your sent messages in unthreaded view, by default you will see your address in the authors column, which is maybe not what you want. The following code allows for showing the recipients if your email address (an arbitrary address, in the example) is included in the From field.

(defun my/notmuch-unthreaded-show-recipient-if-sent (format-string result)
(let* ((headers (plist-get result :headers))
       (to (plist-get headers :To))
       (author (plist-get headers :From))
       (face (if (plist-get result :match)
   (format format-string
           (if (string-match "" author)
               (concat "↦ " (notmuch-tree-clean-address to))
               (notmuch-tree-clean-address to)
   'face face)))

(setq notmuch-unthreaded-result-format
      '(("date" . "%12s  ")
        (my/notmuch-unthreaded-show-recipient-if-sent . "%-20.20s")
        ((("subject" . "%s"))
         . " %-54s ")
        ("tags" . "(%s)")))

Issues with Emacs 24 (unsupported since notmuch 0.31 (2020-09-05))

If notmuch-show-mode behaves badly for you in emacs 24.x try adding one of

    (setq gnus-inhibit-images nil)


    (require 'gnus-art)

to your .emacs file.