Command Line Usage

Ultimately afew is a command line tool. You have to specify an action, and whether to act on all messages, or only on new messages. The actions you can choose from are:

run the tag filters. See Initial tagging.
continuously monitor the mailbox for new files
move mail files between maildir folders

Initial tagging

Basic tagging stuff requires no configuration, just run

$ afew --tag --new
# or to tag *all* messages
$ afew --tag --all

To do this automatically you can add the following hook into your ~/.offlineimaprc:

postsynchook = ionice -c 3 chrt --idle 0 /bin/sh -c "notmuch new && afew --tag --new"

There is a lot more to say about general filter Configuration and the different Filters provided by afew.


Adding –dry-run to any –tag or –sync-tags action prevents modification of the notmuch db. Add some -vv goodness to see some action.

Move Mode

To invoke afew in move mode, provide the –move-mails option on the command line. Move mode will respect –dry-run, so throw in –verbose and watch what effects a real run would have.

In move mode, afew will check all mails (or only recent ones) in the configured maildir folders, deciding whether they should be moved to another folder.

The decision is based on rules defined in your config file. A rule is bound to a source folder and specifies a target folder into which a mail will be moved that is matched by an associated query.

This way you will be able to transfer your sorting principles roughly to the classic folder based maildir structure understood by your traditional mail server. Tag your mails with notmuch, call afew –move-mails in an offlineimap presynchook and enjoy a clean inbox in your webinterface/GUI-client at work.

For information on how to configure rules for move mode, what you can do with it and what you can’t, please refer to Move Mode.

Commandline help

The full set of options is:

$ afew --help
Usage: afew [options] [--] [query]

  -h, --help            show this help message and exit

    Please specify exactly one action.

    -t, --tag           run the tag filters
    -w, --watch         continuously monitor the mailbox for new files
    -m, --move-mails    move mail files between maildir folders

  Query modifiers:
    Please specify either --all or --new or a query string.

    -a, --all           operate on all messages
    -n, --new           operate on all new messages

  General options:
    -C NOTMUCH_CONFIG, --notmuch-config=NOTMUCH_CONFIG
                        path to the notmuch configuration file [default:
                        $NOTMUCH_CONFIG or ~/.notmuch-config]
    -e ENABLE_FILTERS, --enable-filters=ENABLE_FILTERS
                        filter classes to use, separated by ',' [default:
                        filters specified in afew's config]
    -d, --dry-run       don't change the db [default: False]
    -R REFERENCE_SET_SIZE, --reference-set-size=REFERENCE_SET_SIZE
                        size of the reference set [default: 1000]
    -T DAYS, --reference-set-timeframe=DAYS
                        do not use mails older than DAYS days [default: 30]
    -v, --verbose       be more verbose, can be given multiple times