Decluttering mu/mu4e mailboxes

Posted on August 17, 2014

I’ve previously blogged about why mu4e is a great emacs mode for managing large email mailboxes. Here’s a way to find emails you can delete in bulk by grouping all emails by a given field and counting the frequencies. You will to have mu and xmlstarlet installed.

For example, between 3rd March 2009 and 17th August 2014, to group by the subject field,

$ mu find --format=xml date:20090303..20140817 | \
   xmlstarlet sel -t -v "/messages/message/subject" | \
   sort -nr | uniq -c | sort -nr | less

The results will shown in order of subject frequency across all mailbox folders:

166 Coffee break?
121 Automatic reply: I'm locked in the freezer send help
91 RE: do you have my coffee cup?
14 funny cat video
9 Re: accommodation confirmed
4 Re: survey, cat vs dog vids

Alternatively, you might want to delete those “Automatic reply” spam emails:

$ mu find --format=xml date:20080101..20140817 | \
   xmlstarlet sel -t -v "/messages/message/subject" | \
   grep "Automatic reply" | sort -nr | uniq -c | sort -nr | less

These email threads can then be deleted with the D flag in mu4e in emacs. Huzzah, a decluttered mailbox.