This is a work in progress.
This is your friendly guide and tutorial to getting started with Notmuch. It will help you through the first steps of setting up Notmuch.
All Notmuch commands have manual pages. Please refer to them for details.
In order to use Notmuch, you will need to have your email messages stored in your local filesystem, one message per file. For example, Maildir, Maildir++, and MH formats work like this, while mbox does not. Storing the messages one message per file is the only hard dependency for trying out Notmuch.
We will get back to delivering messages later, for now we'll just assume you already have messages in this format.
On Linux, the easiest way to install Notmuch is through your distribution's package repository. If you're installing Notmuch from a git checkout or a source release, please refer to the INSTALL document.
To configure Notmuch, just run
This will interactively guide you through the setup process, and save the
$HOME/.notmuch-config. If you'd like to change the
configuration in the future, you can either edit that file directly, or run
This step only modifies the configuration file.
Notmuch needs a search database to operate. The next step is to run
to index all your messages in the search database. The database will be stored
.notmuch directory under your mail store. The database is not a replacement
or storage for your messages; it's just an index to find the right message
Notmuch does not modify or delete your mails. This is one of the main design
principles of Notmuch. (The only exception is renaming files upon tagging
according to the Maildir specification if the
configuration option is set.) It should be safe to try Notmuch.
Depending on the amount of mail you have the initial indexing process can take a long time, so expect that. Also, the resulting database will require roughly the same amount of storage space as your current collection of email.
mb2md tool can be used
to convert existing mbox files to Maildir.
Beware that the source and destination directory options to
mb2md are relative
to the user's home directory, not relative to the current working directory.
Notmuch itself does not receive messages. There is no IMAP or POP support. You will need to set up other tools, such as fetchmail, offlineimap, or mbsync, to receive the messages.
There are two ways to deliver and index messages:
Use an external tool (such as offlineimap or mbsync) to deliver the messages to your mail store, and run
notmuch newto discover and index the newly delivered messages (and any other changes in the mail store).
Use an external tool (such as fetchmail) receive the messages, and configure the tool to use
notmuch insertas a Mail Delivery Agent to deliver the messages to your mail store and index them.
Notmuch supports running user defined hooks before
or after certain commands. Hooks can be arbitrary executable programs or
scripts. For example, if you always run your mail delivery tool first and
notmuch new after that, you can run the tool from Notmuch
pre-new hook, and
notmuch new to do both. If you always do some tagging after
indexing of new messages, you may want to set up a
hook to do that automatically.
The Notmuch database contains a search index of your messages, along with all
the tags you've added to your messages. The search index can be regenerated by
indexing the messages again, but the tags will be lost if the database is
lost. (If you have
maildir.synchronize_flags configuration option enabled,
also some of the tags can be regenerated from maildir flags.)
To create a plain-text dump of the tags, run
notmuch dump --output=dump.txt
To restore the tags from the dump, run
notmuch restore --input=dump.txt
Did not like it after all? All you need to do is remove the database and the
configuration file. The database is stored in the
.notmuch directory under
your mail store. And your mail store is at
notmuch config get database.path.
You may want to use the
notmuch dump command to create a backup of any tags
you've added before removing the database.