Using Two IMAP Accounts in Mutt

Dec 5, 2009 00:00 ยท 639 words ยท 3 minute read

Mutt can be really great with multiple accounts, but it’s not exactly intuitive to setup. Here I’ll document how I access two Gmail accounts together in one mutt instance.

If you haven’t yet seen my previous mutt post, please go read [that][] now. I recommend using that post to get a single account setup first before coming back here. Even if you plan to jump right into a multi-account setup, this post assumes you’ve at least read the other one and will focus on the differences and required changes to get from there to here.

Offlineimap ๐Ÿ”—

To get Offlineimap syncing multiple accounts, we simply need to add additional configuration blocks to sync the second account with another local Maildir.


ui = ttyui
accounts = Personal,Work

[Account Personal]
localrepository = Personal-Local
remoterepository = Personal-Remote

[Account Work]
localrepository = Work-Local
remoterepository = Work-Remote

[Repository Personal-Local]
type = Maildir
localfolders = ~/Mail/Personal

[Repository Work-Local]
type = Maildir
localfolders = ~/Mail/Work

[Repository Personal-Remote]
type = Gmail
remoteuser =
remotepass = secret
realdelete = no
sslcacertfile = /etc/ssl/certs/ca-certificates.crt

[Repository Work-Remote]
type = Gmail
remoteuser =
remotepass = secret
realdelete = no
sslcacertfile = /etc/ssl/certs/ca-certificates.crt
Obviously, if either of these accounts weren’t a Gmail server, the configuration blocks would be different.

You can test your setup by running offlineimap -o to sync things once. It could take a while, but once done, you should have a nice folder structure like this:

|-- Personal
|   |-- INBOX
|   `-- ...
`-- Work
    |-- INBOX
    `-- ...

Msmtp ๐Ÿ”—

Msmtp also handles multiple accounts very elegantly, we just add another account block for the second account.


# shared defaults since both are gmail accounts
port 587
protocol smtp
auth on
tls on
tls_trust_file /etc/ssl/certs/ca-certificates.crt

account personal
password secret

account work
password secret

account default : personal

Now we can simply call msmtp -a personal or msmtp -a work to use whichever account we want. Omitting the -a option will use the default account which we’ve set as personal.

Mutt ๐Ÿ”—

The goal with mutt is to have certain settings change when we enter certain folders. For example, when we’re viewing +Personal/INBOX we want our from setting to be our personal From address and the sendmail setting should be msmtp -a personal. To provide this functionality, we’re going to do the following:

  1. Place any account-specific settings in separate files
  2. Use mutt’s folder-hook facility to source the proper file and set the proper settings upon entering a folder for a given account.

Here are the two account-specific files:


set from      = ""
set sendmail  = "/usr/bin/msmtp -a personal"
set mbox      = "+Personal/archive"
set postponed = "+Personal/drafts"

color status green default

macro index D \
    "<save-message>+Personal/Trash<enter>" \
    "move message to the trash"

macro index S \
    "<save-message>+Personal/Spam<enter>"  \
        "mark message as spam"


set from      = ""
set sendmail  = "/usr/bin/msmtp -a work"
set mbox      = "+Work/archive"
set postponed = "+Work/drafts"

color status cyan default

macro index D \
    "<save-message>+Work/Trash<enter>" \
    "move message to the trash"

macro index S \
    "<save-message>+Work/Spam<enter>"  \
        "mark message as spam"
Notice the color line which changes the status bar depending on what account I’m “in” at any given moment.

The following settings will tell mutt to source one of these files upon entering a folder matching the given pattern, this will setup all the correct settings when entering a folder for a given account:


set spoolfile = "+Personal/INBOX"

source ~/.mutt/personal

folder-hook Personal/* source ~/.mutt/accounts/personal
folder-hook Work/*     source ~/.mutt/accounts/work

The first two lines effectively set Personal as the default account when we open mutt.

Well, that should do it. Open up mutt, change folders, send some mails, and make sure everything’s working as you’d expect.

For reference, my complete and current setup can be found with my dotfiles.