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C'est la Z

Using Emacs 61 - org-msg

By living in Emacs I get a consistent interface across all sorts of tasks - programming, lesson planning, making presentations, preparing documents, and yes, even email. I've been using mu4e as my Emacs email client for a while now. Currently, I'm using Emacs for my work email and Gmail for personal. I've been thinking of going whole hog to mu4e and possibly migrating from Gmail to a new email provider for the personal stuff but there are still a few pain points with Emacs email:

  • rich text emails (embedded links, images, etc)

  • calendar integration

  • contacts

  • periodic Maildir sync problems with mbsync

Calendar integration isn't a make or break issue and contacts with mu4e is good enough so that leaves two pain points. Formatted emails which I think is now pretty much solved (see below) and the Maildir stuff.

On the Maildir side, I'm trying deal with my email across four machines - work laptop, work desktop, home laptop, home desktop. I originally synced each one separately and that worked but I was having archive problems - it seems that I was only archiving on the local machine so if I archived an email at work and I needed to get to it at home, I was out of luck.

Then, I moved to sharing my Maildir using Syncthing - an opensource Dropbox-alike. That mostly worked but if I wasn't careful I'd get syncing errors where I have to go into my Maildir directory and manually rename or remove messages - a real pain.

If anyone out there has a solution (and this fix doesn't fully work for me), I'd love to hear about it.

Let's get back to the formatted email. I was already to create an email in org mode using org-mu4e-compose-org-mode which I think is built in to either org-mode or mu4e but it's limited. It formats tables, outlines, and source blocks but I can't easily make a source block for something like dot or ditaa and embed the result. I found a solution recently. It's org-msg - a terrific package that lets you compose an email in org-mode. It seems to have better support than org-mu4e-compose-org-mode. It does the basic formatting, tables, etc and also executes source blocks. The only thing that was missing for me was LaTeX formatting but I use that so rarely I don't really care.

The package author, Jeremy Compostella, is also very responsive. When I first installed org-msg it wasn't integrating seamlessly with mu4e. It was still workable but I had to manually insert some configuration at the top of all my emails. I opened an issue on this and within a day it was fixed.

It also has a very cool preview mode so you can see what you're sending. On that, though, I did have an issue but I'm pretty sure it's an Emacs / org-mode issue and not an org-msg issue. On my desktop, when I run the preview, it opens my browser with the email formatted correctly. When I do the same on my laptop, it runs GitHub Classroom Assistant - an application I installed and use for other purposes. I've had this happen before with other emacs xdg things. If anyone else has seen this and better has a solution, I'd love to hear about that as well.

Anyway, here's a video that shows org-msg in action:

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe>

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