Installation and Configuration

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What do I need to compile Sylpheed-Claws?


Any POSIX compliant UNIX or similar OS eg. Linux, FreeBSD, Solaris
GTK+ 2.4.x or later
A recent ANSI C compiler (gcc should also work)

Otherwise ./configure will fail.

Optional requirements:

for X-Face support
GnuPG 1.2.1 or later and GPGME 0.4.5 or later
for GnuPG support
for SSL support
libEtPan! 0.42 or later
for IMAP4 support
OpenLDAP 2.0.7 or later
for LDAP support
Aspell 0.50 or later (and dictionaries)
for spell-checker support
libgnomeprint-2.2 and libgnomeprintui-2.2
for extended printer support
for J-Pilot support
for SpamAssassin plugin support
Clam AntiVirus
for Clam AntiVirus plugin support
for Dillo HTML viewer plugin support
for MathML viewer plugin support

How do I set up Sylpheed-Claws?

When you run Sylpheed-Claws for the first time, the Installation Wizard will appear and prompt you for the minimum required information necessary to start using Sylpheed-Claws in less than 5 minutes.

Why did the creation of the mailbox fail?

Sylpheed-Claws reports such an error if it can't create the default mailboxes (inbox, outbox, etc ...). This can be because <homedir>/Mail already contains files with the same names. This occurs when switching from Kmail to Sylpheed-Claws, in this case backup and remove the existing Mail directory or use another name for the Sylpheed-Claws mail directory.

How do I create a new account?

You can add an account by using the menu item '/Configuration/Create new account'

Why does Sylpheed-Claws not delete my mails when I press "delete"? I set a filter, and Sylpheed-Claws does not filter. I moved a mail to a different mailbox and it did not move.

You have the configuration option /Configuration/Preferences/Common Interface tab 'Execute immediately when moving or deleting messages' disabled.

Can I set up special addresses/ports for my mailserver / newsserver?

Yes, you can. In the Account preferences, on the 'Advanced' tab you can specify the port addresses that you want to use.

Does Sylpheed-Claws have options for threading messages?

Yes. You can switch it on and off in the Summary Menu, just select "Thread View" or press Ctrl+T. (This only affects the currently selected folder; i.e. it is a folder property.)

Can I create multiple levels of subfolders to store mail?

Absolutely. This is no problem.

How do I apply a patch after downloading it?

Copy patch to Sylpheed-Claws directory Apply the patch:

 % patch -p0 < some.patch

Or, if it's gzipped:

 % gzip -dc some.patch.gz | patch -p0

Run =./, remove the generated =/config.cache= file (unless you want to install in prefix /usr/local). Run =./configure= with the appropriate options and then make. (Text as found on the Sylpheed patches page.)

How do I compile in support for compface pictures?

You have to have a package called libcompface installed, so this is available for compiling into Sylpheed-Claws. You can find out more and download it at . Also, Tim Jackson has a spec file, which you can use to build an RPM of compface, at .

How do I make my own compface image?

You can use the script, which converts a 48x48 gif to the format suitable for compface. This script can be found in the 'tools' directory, along with a README. It is also available from this site:

How can I make Sylpheed-Claws send my compface image in the mails?

In the Configuration menu, Preferences for current account, Send tab, check Add user-defined header and press Edit button. A dialog appears, add a header named "X-Face" and fill the value field with your face data. Note that if you paste the data from a terminal into the field some spurious newlines can be added, and these can mangle your face, be careful.

How can I tell my browser/newsclient/other program to use Sylpheed-Claws as e-mail program?

In the settings part of the program, use sylpheed-claws --compose "%t?subject=%s&body=%d"

Specific options for typical browsers
sylpheed-claws --compose mailto:%t?subject=%s
sylpheed-claws --compose "mailto:%t?subject=%s&body=%d"
See How do I make sylpheed the default mail application for KDE?

How do I enable GPG support in Sylpheed-Claws?

GunPG support requires GnuPG >= 0.4.x and GPGME >= 1.x.x.

You need to load the PGP/Core, PGP/MIME, and PGP/inline plugins. '/Configuration/Plugins/Load plugin'.

Mutt does not recognize Sylpheed-Claws' MH structure

For this to work you need to use the touch command in every MH folder. touch the file .xmhcache and Mutt should do just fine.

How can I make Sylpheed-Claws notify me when new mail arrives?

Go to '/Configuration/Preferences/Common', on the 'Receive' tab use the settings for 'Run command when new mail arrives'

Can I use a spell checker with Sylpheed-Claws?

Install Aspell >= 0.50 and use the ./configure option --enable-aspell

I checked out the sources using cvs and cant find any configure script. What can I do?

The cvs versions are meant to be used by developers rather than normal users, so the source (or binary) distributions are easier to use.

- Yeah, but the latest features from cvs really look sexy...

You need to generate the configure script by running ./ Be sure to have autoconf and automake packages installed for this.

Running "" gives errormessages that AM_PATH_GDK_PIXBUF or AM_PATH_(whatever) is not found. What can I do?

There are some *.m4 files in the ac/missing directory. Try to copy them into the ac directory and run again.

If there are still some .m4 files not found (e.g. those from Gtk), try to run

% locate m4 | less


% locate aclocal | less

to find additional directories containing those macros. If you find e.g. a "gtk.m4" in "/opt/gnome/share/aclocal", change following line in "" from

aclocal -I ac \


aclocal -I ac -I /opt/gnome/share/aclocal \

and run it again.

I dont want to compile in support for ... any longer, but after running configure, those libraries are still used. What can I do?

Remove the config.cache file and run configure again. You should also use make clean to avoid undefined references.

How can I select different applications to open with specific MIME types?

The MIME-type->application associations are kept in /etc/mailcap. Note that you need metamail installed to process the opening of the attachment.

How can I change the suggested mimetype for sending attachments?

The extension->MIME-type associations are kept in /etc/mime.types.
Right-click an attachment in the compose window's "Attachments" tab, and select Properties to change the MIME-type.

Why is the folder list not updated after I manually moved/copied folders?

You need to update Sylpheed-Claws' cache. Right click on the mailbox and choose "Check for new folders".

How can I revert original settings, e.g. for fonts, keybindings, etc.?

Sylpheed-Claws keeps its configuration files in $HOME/.sylpheed-claws/sylpheedrc and creates default entries, if none are found. So the easiest way is to quit sylpheed, temporarily renaming your $HOME/.sylpheed-claws e.g. to *.bak and restarting sylpheed in order to get default entries.

What environment variables have effect on Sylpheed-Claws?

Here are the most common variables
location of .sylpheed (config directory) and default folder for Mailboxes.
locale settings, e.g. language and date format.

Why are special characters (e.g. umlauts) not displayed correctly?

In most cases, this is caused by emails with broken encodings. You can try to force it using the View/Character Encoding submenu.

How can I convert my old mailbox / adressbook from (some mailclient).

In the source distribution, you can find some scripts in the tools subdirectory, maybe your application is supported. You can also try to export your old mailbox to MH or mbox format. If the mailbox is in mbox format, it can be imported: File -> Import mbox file...

For the addressbook, direct import is supported for Mutt and Pine, but also LDIF, which is a standard format which most email clients can export to.

Tip: Take a look at the "harvest addresses" function from the Tools menu, it could be a useful alternative or addition, when importing your old contacts.

What config files are there, and what are they used for?

Sylpheed-Claws' config files can be found in $HOME/.sylpheed-claws. They are in plain text format and quite easy to understand, so dont fear to take a look into them using a texteditor.

main configuration: nearly all options from the settings window, e.g. mailbox location, font entries, etc.
settings for pop/imap/nntp accounts
user defined actions
contains user defined header lines
headers to display above the mail body
traditional filter settings
folder specific settings, e.g. default outbox
new filtering and scoring settings
Key bindings
contents of your addressbook
additional folder specific settings, e.g. hiding read messages, sort order, etc.

What's a good method for printing an e-mail?

Most precompiled packages will use the libgnomeprintui library, which will allow you to print your emails simply with the same interface as Gnome apps. It will be compiled in if you have libgnomeprint-dev and libgnomeprintui-dev packages installed.

If Sylpheed-Claws hasn't been compiled with libgnomeprintui support, you can use enscript. Use enscript %s to print everything on one page, or enscript -U2 %s for printing two logical pages on one physical page.

As a more pretty alternative: Use muttprint. The print-command would then look something like this: muttprint -f %s

Using KDE or gv you also get a "print preview" for free!

Try muttprint -f %s -p - |kghostview - or muttprint -f %s -p - |gv - respectively... BTW: muttprint, like enscript, may optionally print two logical pages on one physical page. Just have a look at the docs!

Mail is not sent because the queue folder cannot be found?

(From the old bug tracker): Sylpheed-Claws requires a queue folder. This was changed to prevent message losses, if Sylpheed-Claws is killed while sending. Create a local folder (/File/Add Mailbox.../MH) for the queue and sending should work. I would not suggest to use the imap server for this purpose because sylpheeds queue messages have a special header that can not be handled correctly by the imap server, when the data for the summaryview is queried.

If you really want to create a queueing folder in an IMAP server, you just have to create an ordinary folder in it, and then edit folderlist.xml file in sylpheed's configuration directory. In this file, you will find a "folderitem" tag, with its "name" attribute set to the IMAP folder name you just created for queueing. You should edit this tag, and set its "type" attribute set to "queue". Note that this "folderitem" you're looking that will be a child of an "folder" tag that has its "type" attribute set to "imap".

What is the purpose of this bizarre "Enable Alternate Dictionary" option?

It is useful only if you routinely compose messages that use two or more languages. If this option is enabled, then when you switch to another language, the last one you used is not swapped out from memory, thus, when you switch again to it, there is no delay. Moreover, whenever you use two dictionaries, if you check a word and if the spell checker considers it misspelled in the current language, you can switch to the alternate language and recheck the word in one operation by selecting the "Check with ALTERNATE_LANGUAGE" item (keyboard short-cut: <x>) in the suggestions menu. This is very handy when the message contains paragraphs in two languages.

(Tips & Tricks) Why doesn't the spell checker have a more traditional user interface, like KMail, Evolution etc?

Because the developer (Melvin Hadasht) noted that by using the keyboard shortcuts the spell checking can be done faster while typing (more on that below). Moreover, there is the option <Spelling/Check All or Check selection> allows to do a spell checking of the whole text or just a selection. Just keep an eye where the suggestions menu shows up to look at the misspelled word, then hit one of the letters corresponding to the suggestion (<a> through <p>, press also <ALT> to make the selected suggestion listed as the first suggestion the next time you do exactly the same mistake --- this is the "learn by mistake" feature), or hit <r> to type a replacement, or hit <ALT-SPACE> to accept the word in the current message, or hit <ALT-RETURN> to accept the word and to add it definitively to your personal dictionary associated to this language. If you have enabled the "Alternate Dictionary", you can switch to it by hitting <x>.

If you prefer checking while you type, just bind the <Spelling/Check backwards misspelled word> and <Spelling/Forward to next misspelled word> to two quick keyboard short cuts. Then, as soon as you mistype a word, call the <Check backwards...> short-cut ---you do not need to move the cursor--- and without using the mouse select the suggestion. As GNU/Aspell does a good job at suggesting a replacement, you will often end to type <a>, and as the cursor did not move, just continue typing. In contrast, the other option, <Forward to next...> does move the cursor. This is because if you have text after the cursor, that also means in general that you are only editing a message, and not writing it, so advancing the cursor to the misspelled word is in general the wanted behaviour.

How do I make sylpheed the default mail application for KDE?

KDE does not support passing the full URL to a mailer (see bug 658 and the corresponding KDE bug entry). But there is a workaround - do the following as root:

mv /usr/local/bin
chmod +x /usr/local/bin/

Then go to the KDE Control Center -> KDE Components -> Component Chooser -> Email Client, choose "Use a different email client" and enter the following into the textbox:

/usr/local/bin/ --to="%t" --cc="%c" --bcc="%b" --subject="%s" --body="%B" --attach="%A"

If your binary has a name other than "sylpheed-claws", you must append another parameter:


where /usr/bin/sylpheed is the full path to sylpheed on your system.

In case you don't want that perlscript or you can't use it - there is this alternative. But be aware that passing multiple lines or non-standard characters to Sylpheed-Claws from an application (e.g. konqueror trying to send form-data via email) will not work!

sylpheed-claws --compose "~mailto:%t?cc=%c&bcc=%b&subject=%s&body=%B" --attach "%A"

Replace "sylpheed-claws" with the actual name of your binary here as well.

Why does Sylpheed-Claws tell me that a gpg signature has expired?

The sender used a key with a time limit, you have to update your keyring regularly to receive the updated signatures, e.g. like this
gpg --refresh-keys

Note: Most keyservers have problems syncing OpenPGP type keys (see It is recommended to switch to SKS keyservers, e.g. or .

Why does Sylpheed-Claws tell me that there is one unread message in some folders?

When the number behind some folder tells you that you have one unread message but all are marked as read you have to do the following
Right click on toplevel MH folder and use "Check for new messages", or use '/View/Update Summary'

How can I use my free Hotmail, Yahoo, or AOL email account via Sylpheed-Claws?

FreePOPs should allow you to create kind of a "bridge" between these proprietary email services and Sylpheed-Claws. Simply install FreePOPs, which is probably packaged in your distribution and configure it. After that, you can add an POP3 account to Sylpheed-Claws, which receiving server will be localhost and set the port to use to 2000 in the Advanced tab. The username to use consists of a complete email address, like, so that FreePOP can know which type of account it is. For more information, see FreePOPs' user manual.