I have a fairly large Gmail account for work (22gb of mail, many folders) which I manage with mu4e on my desktop machine. I'm setting up a laptop for travel and I still want to be able to use my emacs based workflow. However carrying and syncing the whole mail archive seems a little excessive so I thought maybe I should explore gnus as I'll only want to check the last week or two of email in a few of my most active folders.

However my first hurdle seems to be getting the initial list of groups to subscribe to. When gnus logs into Gmail to get the initial list of "groups" it ends up transferring 2gb of data before hanging or failing to list the groups. This seems a little excessive for just getting the list of labels to subscribe to. I thought the workflow for gnus was to only download the most recent headers when you entered a group. I'm not sure what it is downloading during the initial sync but it must be more than that.

So how can I manage this sort of setup in gnus? Is it possible to only sync the groups names for the first instance so I can setup my subscription preferences?

As a bonus follow-up is it possible to limit the downloading of headers in a group by age rather than a number limit (i.e. last 200 headers)?

  • You could use something like offlineimap and explicitly list folders to sync. Then point gnus at those. – Jeffrey DeLeo Dec 6 '18 at 21:18
  • @JeffreyDeLeo I explicitly don't want to do that because it would be a bunch of churn on the disk. I just want to ability to pop in (as I do in the gmail app/page) but able to access my Emacs tooling. – stsquad Dec 7 '18 at 14:51
  • Having poked around a bit more it seems the initial sync is all "UID FETCH 1:* FLAGS" commands which on folders like my lkml one just takes too much data. For groups it has more information on it only starts grabbing the data from later on. What I really need is a smarter sync that can find the highest UID on initial sync and go from there. – stsquad Dec 24 '18 at 18:02
  • This isn't an answer, but Wanderlust (github.com/wanderlust/wanderlust) supports very IMAP without downloading the messages entirely. I have no trouble with an 8GB archive. – Erik Hetzner Dec 24 '18 at 23:45

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