Chapter 3. Using KMail

Daniel Naber

Scarlett Clark

David Bryant

Revision 5.14.2 (Applications 20.04.2) (2020-09-12)

The Main Window

The main window is the window that appears when KMail is started. It is by default divided into three panes:

Folder List (on the left)
Folder Pane

The Folder List


This pane contains the list of your message folders (other email programs may call them mailboxes). To select a folder, simply click on it. The message header information contained in the folder will then appear in the Message List pane. The folder list can be displayed in both a short view, which takes up only a small portion of the left side of the screen, and a long view, which takes up the entire left side of the screen (and can show more folders). You can toggle between these two views by using the Appearance/Layout tab in the SettingsConfigure KMail... dialog. The top section of the folder pane provides quick links to your favorite folders. Drag and drop folders here, or add them via the right mouse button context menu item Add Favorite Folder. Please see the Folders Section for more details about folders.


Message List (on the upper right by default)
The Message List

The Message List (Smart Theme)


This pane lists header information (Subject, Sender, and Date) for the messages in the currently selected folder. Clicking on an item in the Message List will select that message and display it in the Preview pane; you can also select more than one message by holding down the Ctrl key (or the Shift key) when clicking on messages.

Change the appearance of your message list by selecting ViewMessage ListTheme. You have several options here.

  • Classic A simple, backward compatible single row with clickable sort columns.

  • Smart A smart multi-line, multi-item list with status icons, and no sort columns.

  • Smart with Clickable Status A smart multi-line, multi-item list with clickable status icons.

  • Configure... Allows you to customize your own Message List Theme (e.g. add or remove columns from the clickable sort bar.)

If you have chosen the Classic theme, you may sort the messages by clicking on the column that you wish to sort; if you click on the same column again, the sort order will toggle between ascending/descending. Clicking the right mouse button on the list header shows a pop up menu, which allows you to show or hide several columns in the list. You can customize the columns visible on the sort bar; see Configure Appearance of Message List for details.


Preview Pane (in the lower right by default)
The Message Preview Pane

The Preview Pane


This pane displays the currently selected message. Here are some ways to adjust the Preview pane.

The top of the Preview pane displays the message headers. Several display options are available. Go to ViewHeaders and try them out until you find one you like!

  • Fancy Headers Colorful header with a spam status / attachments notification.

  • Brief Headers Title, and in parentheses: From, CCs (if any), and the date.

  • KMail 5.2 An avatar (if available) with Title, From, To, CCs (if any), and spam status / attachments on separate lines.

  • Download New Themes... Allows you to download custom themes created by other KMail users.

Click on the bar located on the left hand side of the pane to toggle between plain text and HTML (if and only if the message is coded both ways). The text on the bar will inform you which view you are in. The SettingsConfigure KMail...Security dialog allows you to select HTML as the default message display option, if you prefer HTML to plain text.

If you would like to change the way your attachments appear in your messages, go to ViewAttachments. These are your options.

  • As Icons, all attachments appear as icons at the bottom of the message.

  • Smart will show attachments as icons, unless the message suggests that they should be displayed inline. You can suggest that certain attachments should be shown inline in messages you compose by selecting Suggest automatic display in the composer window via the attachment's properties dialog.

  • Inline shows the contents of the attachments at the bottom of the message. Attachments that cannot be displayed, e.g. compressed files, will still be shown as an icon.

  • Hide will not show attachments.

  • In Header Only will suppress inline displays, but list the attachments along with the message headers.

The interactions among the header themes, the attachment views, and the plain text versus HTML preferences is rather complex. For example, if you attach an HTML file to a plain text message, KMail will probably interpret your message as being coded in two different formats, even though this is not really the case. Similarly, HTML messages may display embedded images even when you have selected the "Hide" option for attachments.

The structure of each message can be displayed by pressing Ctrl+Alt+D. This will open a message structure viewer below the preview pane. Turn the message structure viewer off by pressing the same three keys.

You can scroll through the message page-by-page using the PgUp and PgDn keys, or line-by-line using the Up and Down keys; you can also use keyboard shortcuts to skip through your messages without having to use the mouse.