Evolution notes

A few tips and tricks for Evolution I’ve found useful.

Evolution handles mail marked for deletion, and marked as spam, differently than many other email clients and webmail readers. For this reason you will see confusing differences if you use both Evolution and other products. See this discussion for details.

TODO: Describe subscribing to folders, the marking of folders for offline use, and the downloading of offline content.

Consider increasing the frequency with which Evolution automatically checks mail. If the network experiences problems, the default setting of 10 minutes can trigger a second request before the first finishes, bogging Evolution down. For my purposes, 15 minutes works well.

I do my spam filtering on the mail server, not on my local box. That way I’m not bothered by spam even when I check my mail on the road. Thus I disable all of Evolution’s junk options (Edit – Preferences – Mail Preferences – Junk).

Evolution’s default folders for sent mail and drafts are local, even for IMAP accounts. This should not normally be changed:

For sent mail: If the sent mail folder is on the server, the writing of sent mail to it intermittently and silently fails. Others have observed this behavior with Thunderbird as well, so this appears to be a network problem rather than an Evolution problem. As a workaround, keep the sent mail folder on the local computer, and create a filter in Evolution that copies all outgoing mail to the server’s sent mail folder.

To do this, open Evolution’s filters (Edit – Message Filters) and select outgoing mail. Press “Add” to create a new outgoing filter. Name your new filter, perhaps “Copy to INBOX.Sent”. In “Find items that meet the following criteria” set “Match All”. In “Then” set “Copy to Folder” and select your server’s sent mail folder, e.g. “INBOX.Sent”. This filter does not reliably work, however. You must manually check and copy as needed. TODO: Find a better solution.

For drafts: If the draft mail folder is on the server, then pressing “Save as draft” bogs down Evolution until the draft is saved. If the network happens to be experiencing problems the delay can be annoyingly long. I do not need drafts on the server, so I have left the draft folder in its default location on the local computer and not sought a workaround.

Sometimes you will want to archive a mail folder to another storage device. For example, you’ve just closed a project and need to burn everything to a DVD for archival purposes, mail included.

If the folder is IMAP, move it to the local machine: right-click on the folder, choose “Move”, and place it in “On this Computer”.

Once the folder is local, look in ~/.evolution/mail/local/. For each local mail folder, you will see six files. For example, if the folder’s name is Foobar you will see:

  • Foobar
  • Foobar.cmeta
  • Foobar.ev-summary
  • Foobar.ev-summary-meta
  • Foobar.ibex.index
  • Foobar.ibex.index.data

The file you need to archive is the first one. I like to create a top-level directory in the archive DVD named “mail”. In that directory, I place the file identified above, and a README file with text similar to:

The file “Foobar” contains all foobar-related mail in mbox format as copied from ~/.evolution/mail/local. To import it into Evolution, open Evolution and select File – Import. Choose to import a single file, Foobar. Choose your desired destination folder; you may want to create a new folder for it. Confirm to begin the importation process.

Once you have created your archive, right-click on the folder in Evolution and select “Delete”.

Evolution apparently has a bug that causes it to lose calendars, memos, and tasks. The files that contained the lost data continue to exist, but have a filesize of 0. To recover them:

1. Close Evolution. It is not necessary to shut down Evolution’s helper programs evolution-alarm-notify and evolution-data-server.

2. Find the following directories in your backup:

  • ~/.evolution/calendar/
  • ~/.evolution/memos/
  • ~/.evolution/tasks/

Check the filesize of the relevant files (for example, ~/.evolution/calendar/local/system/calendar.ics). If the filesizes are 0, then the files you require were lost before that backup was done. Check an older backup.

Once you have found the proper backup, restore the directories.

3. Reopen Evolution. Open the calendar view. Notice that your calendars are unchecked. Check them. Do the same with the memo and task views. Your calendars, memos, and tasks should now be restored.

Evolution apparently has a bug that causes it to not display birthdays and anniversaries on the birthdays and anniversaries calendar, even if that calendar is selected for display.

To temporarily work around this problem and restore their display, open a contact for editing for whom you have birthday or anniversary information. Notice that the information appears; it has not been lost. Place your cursor in the birthday or anniversary field and delete the data. Do not open the drop-down box to select “None”. Press “OK”.

Repeat the above for every contact for whom you have birthday or anniversary information. It is only necessary to do this for one field with data. If you have both birthday and anniversary data for the contact, both will be restored.

This will only work if you delete data that exists. If you do not have a particular date, it will show as “None”. Do not delete this.

This is merely a temporary workaround, not a fix. The problem will recur.

Evolution stores your data in ~/.evolution/, your account settings in ~/.gconf/apps/evolution/, your SSL certificates in ~/.camel_certs/, and your passwords in ~/.gnome2_private/Evolution/. The passwords are not stored encrypted, just base64 encoded, so anyone with access to that file can easily convert them to ASCII and read them.

A GtkAccelMap file is stored at ~/.gnome2/accels/evolution.

When using IMAP, Evolution sometimes takes a long time to shut down. If this is a problem — say you are trying to shut down your box due to a power failure and have limited runtime in the UPS — then give the command evolution –force-shutdown as user in a terminal. That forces an immediate shutdown.

By default, Evolution removes many headers from a message when forwarded. To retain the full headers — for example for SpamAssasin training — forward the message as an attachment (Message – Forward As – Attached).

I set Evolution to display HTML messages as plain text, with the HTML original as an attachment. Then when receiving malformed HTML messages that don’t quote well in reply (I’m talking to you, Yahoo Mail), now you can simply mark the text to quote and press “reply”. You get the quoted text as plain text, no fuss.

These notes apply to Evolution 3.10 and were last updated 19 November 2014.

Evolution FAQ


About Warren Post

So far: Customer support guy, jungle guide, IT consultant, beach bum, entrepreneur, teacher, diplomat, over-enthusiastic cyclist. Tomorrow: who knows?
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