Opera as a mail client

Opera is more than my favorite browser, it is also an easy to use mail client.

These notes are based on Opera 12.02 and assume you have already installed and configured Opera generally.

CONFIGURATION
You can toggle between the default menu button and a more traditional menu bar with Alt-F11. Where items are found depends on whether you are using the button or bar; the following assumes the button.

Open Mail and Chat accounts, press add, and choose to add an email account. Enter your account details as appropriate. Then return to Mail and Chat accounts and edit your mail account as desired. I usually set (keeping in mind I’m an IMAP user):

  • Incoming – Availability of messages when offline: Make all messages available offline
  • Incoming – Play sound when new messages arrive: Enable and choose a local sound file as desired.
  • Outgoing: Disable “Add contacts from sent messages”
  • Outgoing: Edit signature as desired
  • IMAP – Sent, Trash, and Spam folders: Set to those on your server
  • IMAP – Local spam filter: Disable

In the top right corner is a wrench icon marked “Default mail settings”. Press it and set as desired. Non-default settings I prefer are:

  • Mail layout: List and message below
  • Maximize messages: No (I sometimes have to select and then deselect this for it to take effect)
  • Default list sorting: Do not group
  • Prefer plain text: No
  • Mark as read: After two seconds

Press the Compose button (at the top of the left pane) to open a composition window. Now press the Settings icon in the top right corner to set composition preferences. I prefer:

  • Priority: Disable
  • BCC: Disable
  • Encoding: Disable

While you’re in the compose message window, send yourself a test email to insure that the account is working.

By default Opera displays mail in a manner similar to Gmail, sorting messages according to views rather than by mailboxes and folders. I dislike this behavior and suppress it: In the left pane, press the view icon and deselect all views you wish to suppress.

I customize the views I don’t hide. Hover over the name of the view you wish to customize in the left pane, and a wrench icon appears. Press it and customize as desired. Views I customize are:

  • All Messages: I select Customize, then hide Unread, Received, Pinned, Sent, Spam, and Trash.
  • Labels: I select Customize, then hide Funny and Meeting. You can also select Properties and edit existing labels or create new ones.

At the top of the right pane, press the “Settings for this view” icon to set viewing preferences. I prefer:

  • Threaded view
  • Show – Show trash: Disable
  • Show – Show sent: Enable
  • Show – Show duplicates: Enable
  • Mark as read: After 2 seconds
  • Show quick reply: Disable

In the right pane, Opera shows your messages in columnar format. Right click on the header of any column to customize the columns that are shown — to save space, I disable size.

Opera’s overall appearance is configured in Appearance. In Appearance – Panels, I enable Mail and Contacts.

Configure your desktop environment, window manager, or operating system to use Opera as the predetermined email client. Then insure that Opera is set to use the system default mail client (Settings – Preferences – Advanced – Programs).

USAGE
Drafts are saved locally, even for IMAP users. To see the local drafts, look under All Messages – Drafts.

TIPS, TRICKS, AND LIMITATIONS
To diagnose problems with sending or receiving mail, enable logging in accounts.ini. In accounts.ini, comments begin with semicolons; acceptable variables include {Home} (which on Linux corresponds to ~/) and {Preferences} (which on Linux corresponds to ~/.opera/).

Neither Opera Mail nor any other mail client I’ve tried is particularly good at creating, editing, or deleting IMAP folders. For this task I use webmail.

Multiple identities aren’t supported. While a limited workaround is possible, people who need multiple identities would be happier with a client that properly supports it such as Evolution or Thunderbird.

Opera Mail can only communicate with mail servers, so it cannot directly check Linux system mail in a local mbox spool file. A suggested workaround is to set up a local mail server to access the system mail, and have Opera access the local server. Otherwise, switch to a mail client that can read local mail files such as Evolution.

As of version 11.60, the time and date formats in the “Sent” column are hardcoded and cannot be changed.

Since version 12, Opera Mail for Windows allows external programs such as LibreOffice to send a file as a message attachment, but Opera Mail for Linux needs a third-party script to add this functionality for LibreOffice on Linux.

The address book is quite basic and Opera does not support LDAP, so Opera Mail isn’t a good fit for organizational use.

Opera Link does not support contact synchronization, but third-party tools can be used to synchronize your contacts across multiple computers. It worked fine for me, but people who use contact views might have problems with this method.

BACKUP CONSIDERATIONS
A few of Opera’s mail-related files can be added to your backup routine to save your preferences and user data. In Linux, Opera’s per-user files are found at:

  • Linux: ~/.opera/
  • Windows (general preferences): %systemdrive%\Users\USER\AppData\Roaming\Opera\Opera\
  • Windows (mail directory): %systemdrive%\Users\USER\AppData\Local\Opera\Opera\

Taking the above as the base directory, I back up:

  • contacts.adr (contact list)
  • mail/store/drafts/ (locally stored drafts)
  • mail/accounts.ini (mail-related user preferences)

If I’m using a sync-based backup, then I don’t bother with mail/store/drafts/, which otherwise would accumulate forever with little benefit.

I use IMAP and back up my messages on the server. If you’re stuck in the stone age and use POP, you’ll have to back up your messages yourself; they are in ~/.opera/mail/store/account*/.

To back up the contents of a mail folder in mbox format, simply right-click on the folder and select Export. You can only back up one folder at a time, and the folder being backed up must contain messages, not a nested folder. This is useful when, for example, I close a project and want to move all relevant files and mail messages off my hard disk and onto a CD for storage with the paper files.

REFERENCES
Opera Mail Tutorial
Usenet: opera.mail+news
Importing contacts into Opera Mail
For a while I was using Opera Portable to check my mail while traveling
Discussion: How to clean up the mail/ dir

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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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5 Responses to Opera as a mail client

  1. Pingback: Using Thunderbird | Warren's tech notes

  2. Pingback: Setting up the Opera browser, version 12 | A maze of twisty little passages

  3. Pingback: Setting up multiple identities in Opera Mail | A maze of twisty little passages

  4. Pingback: Setting up Opera Portable | A maze of twisty little passages

  5. Pingback: Synchronizing a single file with SpiderOak | A maze of twisty little passages

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