Ever since the Mozilla folks “killed” Thunderbird, I’ve been looking for an alternative email client. I’ve used TON of them — Eudora (now being developed by Mozilla as Eudora 8 and Penelope Extensions), The Bat, Pegasus, Opera and a host of clients that aren’t around anymore.
One of the clients I used a long, long time ago was Pine. It was a really powerful and customizable text-based email client with excellent IMAP support. It’s morphed into Alpine and has been GUI-ized just a little bit.
Why would anyone want a text-based email client? Well, safety is a biggie — since it’s text-based, there’s NO WAY you can get infected with email-borne viruses. It does a decent job of text-ifying HTML emails but if you just HAVE to see that HTML rendered in a browser, with two keystrokes you can bring it up in your preferred browser. It supports something called “roles” which are ways to customize your email based on any of a number of things. Me, since I have a lot of email aliases I use for my various list memberships and such, I’ve set up roles that automatically set From, signature, CC and BCC and such based on which alias received the email.
No, it’s not for mom and dad — it requires some technical knowledge — but it’s my email client of choice right now. And, no, there’s nothing wrong with Google’s email interface, nor Fastmail’s nor any of the other robust, fully-featured web-based email clients but, to the best of my knowledge, none of them provide access to arbitrary IMAP servers. And, yes, I still use them when I’m not at one of my own computers, I just prefer Alpine’s UI when I can use it.