I sometimes want to read mailing list archives for projects that I'm not subscribed to. There are nice HTML archives online (e.g. https://lists.gnu.org/archive/html/emacs-devel/2014-12/msg00347.html), but I don't enjoy reading mails in the browser.

Is there an interface for Emacs to read mailing list archives? I already use mu4e to read my personal email inside of Emacs, but I'd also like to be able to read other people's email in Emacs (to the extend that these other people have posted to public mailing lists).

There's got to be a mode for that. (I suspect gnus is the answer, but I have never used it.)

3 Answers 3


Sure GNUS is an answer. From emacswiki

M-x gnus

And select gmane.emacs.devel. From here you can browse through the threads using GNUs NNTP interface (which is what it was originally written to do). This is probably the best solution for browsing through historical mailing lists.

As others have mentioned you may only want to read a small set of emails perhaps attached to a bug or patchwork. In this case if you can download the mbox file you can browse it directly without dealing with network latency. Again Emacs has many solutions for email however built in you can use Rmail quite easily. The steps for this are:

M-x rmail

This will bring up your default inbox (most likely your systems /var/mail/$USER and copy it in ~/RMAIL). However to load in a "foreign" mail box you type:


This will put you at the summary view of the mail box which you can then browse with the usual Emacs navigation.


And if you specifically want to read a thread for a certain Emacs bug, press M-x gnus-read-ephemeral-emacs-bug-group RET 12345, where 12345 is the bug number.

  • 1
    There's also debbugs mode for reading bug reports/threads.
    – user2005
    Dec 14, 2014 at 19:22
  • Yup. But it's not as helpful when you already know the bug number.
    – Dmitry
    Dec 14, 2014 at 19:27
  • Well, I use debbugs-gnu-bugs for that, which prompts me for bug ids.
    – user2005
    Dec 15, 2014 at 9:24
  • Ok, thanks for the tip. It's indeed a bit easier to do.
    – Dmitry
    Dec 15, 2014 at 10:12

stsquad's answer is good. But there is another useful way, too. A while back I wanted to read the Debian bug about the systemd decision by the TC in Emacs. The GMANE interface to the bugs mailing list works, but it was easier to just download the mbox file from the bug report and open that file in gnus; that way it was all stored locally, which avoids the latency of requesting each article individually from the NNTP server.

So if there's a way to download an mbox file archive of the list you want to read, that might work for you.

  • 1
    Could you elaborate on your answer in more detail? In particular, could you explain the steps needed to do this?
    – Dan
    Dec 14, 2014 at 11:41
  • 1
    @Dan: I've expanded my answer to include an example for a local mbox.
    – stsquad
    Dec 15, 2014 at 9:50

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