KMail/FAQs Hints and Tips

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Problem: You have a kde-pim problem

Symptom: You have a problem with kde-pim and would like to know whether others have reported and solved the problem. You wonder how to read the archives of the kde-pim mailing list.

Solution: This is a good habit to cultivate. Try the MARC archives at

Problem: KMail does not start up.

Symptome: You want to start kmail from a minimal desktop environment like fvwm2. It does not start.

Reason: You are missing the dbus functionality.

Solution: Start kmail using dbus-launch like this:

dbus-launch kmail

Problem: You are losing mail. One message in your Inbox had an empty subject line and the date 1st January 1970. When you clicked on it, it was empty. When you clicked on the next message that changes to the same state.

Solution: This happens where there is corruption in your index files. First thing then, do not click on any more messages.

  • With the KMail 1.10 shipped with KDE 4.1 or newer, right click on the folder and select Rebuild Index (you can do the same from the Folder menu).
  • With earlier KMail versions the process is slightly more complicated. Close KMail. In Dolphin, navigate to where your mail is stored (typically in ~/.kde/share/apps/kmail/) and look for index files associated with the affected mailbox. There will be two or three, and be easy to spot. Delete them. They will be recreated when you re-start KMail. You will have lost the mails that had disappeared, but the rest of the mail should be visible again.

Problem: You have set up a new computer and want to transfer your old mail and settings to it.

Solution: The messages are typically in ~/.kde/share/apps/kmail/. For settings you will need

  • ~/.kde/share/config/kmailrc,
  • ~/.kde/share/config/mailtransports, (since KDE 4.0)
  • ~/.kde/share/config/emaildefaults and
  • ~/.kde/share/config/emailidentities .

Your address book is usually stored in ~/.kde/share/apps/kabc/.

Problem: You sent an email to to a friend and mis-typed his address. Now that address keeps popping up as a suggestion, everytime you try to send to the correct address. You can't find it in your addressbook.

Solution: Recent addresses are actually stored in /.kde/share/config/kmailrc,, but rather than risk making a mistake in a manual edit, go to KMail's Settings > Configure KMail > Composer and you will see a button "Edit Recent Addresses"

Problem: You would like to set Firefox to use KMail for mailto: addresses

Solution: In the Firefox address bar, type about:config Right-click anywhere in the window and select New|String in the first dialogue field. Type

and then


Close firefox

Problem: You have set Firefox as your default browser, but when you click a URL in KMail it loads a local tmp version of the page with broken relative links.

Solution: You should add %u or %U to the Firefox executable in the settings. If that is not present KDE assumes that the application is not capable of handling remote urls (http) and hence creates a local copy first.

Problem: You exchange encrypted mail with a friend, but would like to store it unencrypted, once you have opened the message.

Solution: To store emails that have been decrypted once in unencrypted format henceforth, add this to your kmailrc configuration file, in the [Reader] section:


This may only work with SMIME but implementation for OpenPgP is being worked on.

Problem: You get an authentication error message

Authentication support is not compiled into kio_smtp. The message will stay in the 'outbox' folder until you either fix the problem (e.g. a broken address) or remove the message from the 'outbox' folder.

Solution: Install the sasl-devel-package and recompile kdepimlibs. E.g. for SUSE the package is named cyrus-sasl-devel and you install it with the command

yast -i cyrus-sasl-devel

When running cmake to compile kdepimlibs, you will see:

-- The following external packages were located on your system.
-- This installation will have the extra features provided by these packages.
+ cyrus-sasl

Problem: You can't find your Distribution Lists

Solution: See KAddressBook

Problem: You intend moving on to reading your mail from an IMAP server, and wonder how filtering and spam handling will occur?

Solution The machine that already has your mail can become your imap server. You will need to configure a server application. Dovecot is one such, and the guidance on the project web pages make it easy to set up. That still leaves you with the problem of filtering, as it makes sense to do it on the server (when you point kmail at the server you will see the folders that you have created). Again there are options, but one of the best known is procmail. Again there is plenty of information on the Internet on how to set this up. You give it a set of 'recipes' - here's an example:

* (^To|^CC|^List-ID): .*kde-linux

If you have maildir folders, each recipe must end with a '/'. If your folders are mbox, just omit the '/'

If you have been using bogofilter with kmail you will already have a wordlist. This can be used at server level, too, so you won't have to start training from scratch. The trick is to set this before the procmail recipes:

| bogofilter -e -p
* ^X-Bogosity: Spam, tests=bogofilter
* ^X-Bogosity: Unsure, tests=bogofilter

Note that it is going to use a mailbox for spam and one for unsure - I add a 'a-' to the name to ensure that they are easily seen, at the top of the list.

Finally, to improve performance, run the following command occasionally on saved spam and Unsures:

/usr/share/bogofilter/contrib/ -c -H /home/user/Maildir /.INBOX.bogotrain_ham/cur/ -S /home/user/Maildir/.INBOX.bogotrain_spam/cur/

(don't forget to check the path.)

This is not a complete guide to setting up a server, but notes on how to set up the server to work as you expect in KMail.

Problem: You are setting up a new computer and want to transfer all your mail. You decide to copy everything to a usb stick. The job starts, then you start to get failure message, 'Unable to copy ............Invalid argument'.

Solution: Your usb stick is FAT formatted, and thus can't handle maildir folder names (nor can it handle permissions, which can cause many other problems). You have two choices. Either format your usb stick as ext2 (in which case you should be aware it can't be read on windows OSes without installing additional software there) or create a tar file of all your mail, copy that to the stick and extract it to your new host.

Problem: You are using KMail under KDE 4.2 on a netbook, and find that the new Aggregation display leaves you little screen space

Solution: You now have a new set of icons next to the quick search bar. You can use these to choose a different theme and a different aggregation. If you want to change the look so that a mail uses a single row instead of two rows, change the theme to Classic. If you want to disable grouping by date, change the aggregation to Standard Mailing List. Now your KMail will look exactly like it did in earlier versions.

Problem: You are using KMail under KDE 4.2 on a netbook, and find that the tooltips over folders hide too many folder names

Solution: Right-clicking on the header of the Folder List now brings up several more configuration options. One section is headed 'Display Tooltips', and the choices are Always, When Text Obscured, Never. 'When Text Obscured' is handy for folders that have long names, so that only part of the name is displayed. Folder where you can see the full name won't pop up the tooltip.

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