Aerc: Configuration Tips


This is just a (very) quick collection of some tips regarding using Aerc, an email client for use in a TTY or terminal emulator.

Where can I get Aerc?

Aerc is hosted on sourcehut. You can get the code from there, as well as links to other helpful information (note: I am not affiliated with Aerc or its development).

Aerc on sourcehut


I don’t have a whole lot of profound tips - part of what I like is the simplicity. Here are some of the less-obvious things to keep in mind:

Building the latest git copy of it is a lot more reliable than using whatever your distro package or the stable release on git is. There are a lot of bugfixes you get building it yourself. Since I use Arch at home, I use an AUR package. At work I just manually build and install.

I recommend making sure you set up something for reading HTML emails. I set up W3M for that, but it might not be enabled by default.

When I start Aerc, I prefer to start it in a loop, so if it crashes, it just starts back up. It also lets me press q (to quit) as a means of force-refreshing everything. The first bit sets the window title, and the sleep makes sure I can ctrl+c if I want to. Maybe there is a more elegant way to do this, but it works great for me, so I haven’t looked into it further:

mytitle="Aerc"; echo -e '\033]2;'$mytitle'\007'; while true; do sleep 0.2; aerc; done

I make a couple minor modifications to the keybindings to reflect my preferred folder layout. I don’t remember what the default was, but I use shift+A for “send to archive”, d for “send to trash”, and shift+D for “hard delete (skip trash)”. There might be a couple other adjustments.

I set up an “address book” for tab completing when composing emails. It is just a text file that I manually add names and addresses to, so when I compose emails it will fill them in (not super elegant, but easy for me to do). The command for fetching the completes can be configured in the regular Aerc config.


For an unknown reason, I’ve never had the notification or notification sound work for me on new-mail delivery, despite setting up what I thought was needed. If anyone knows why this might be, I’d love to hear about it.

Config files?

Here’s a link to the relevant files I use. I left most of the stock setttings in place, so they should be diff-able.



Example “contact search” script that I reference in aerc.conf:

Inside a ~/.contacts folder I place a text file (or multiple), each representing and “address book” that I want searched. In my case, I have one called personal and one called work. Here’s how I format them. Note that between the name and address MUST be a tab. Anything before the tab is counted as the email address, anything after the tab is the name:


That’s all I have for now. If anyone happens to read this and has any questions, feel free to shoot me an email or a message on Matrix.

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