Opera M2 is being touted as a "revolutionary" mail client, and it is
certainly different from other mail clients. The most important
differences are very tight integration with the browser,
and the lack of traditional mail folders. All mail is stored in a
flat database, and different views are used instead; this is basically
taking the virtual folder concept to its extreme: everything is a
virtual folder. The implementation of this in M2 is very well done,
however, and the mail client tries to do as much as possible
Note: Although some of the screenshots are from the first
preview of version 7.50 the review has been updated to account for new
features in the second preview.
M2 ships with a number of default virtual folders divided into
- On the top are all of the "Unread" messages.
- Under "All messages" traditional folders such as "Received"
(containing all messages in the database), "Outbox", "Sent",
"Drafts", "Trash" and "Spam" can be found.
- Under "Filters" are all of your custom-made virtual folders. More on
this in the filters section.
- Under "Active contacts" the most recent people you have
communicated with or added to the address book are present and
contains all mail involving said person; the list is automatically
trimmed to ten people each time M2 starts.
- Under "Labels" you will find all messages with the specific label
set; M2 supports seven labels, which can only be changed by editing a
configuration file manually (the procedure is documented
fortunately). They can be easily renamed, however. A message can only
have one label.
- Under "Active threads" are all of the threads you are participating
- Under "Searches" you will find all of the most recent searches. M2
has a very quick full text index, and typing in a search term in the
"Start search" field will automatically create a search matching all
mail with that term.
- Under "Attachments" you will find all mail with any attachments
of the given type, whether documents, images, music or archives.
- Under "Newsfeeds" are RSS feeds you subscribe to. This very
useful feature gives you updated news directly from within M2. The
update frequency of each feed can be separately configured.
- Finally under "Mailing lists" you will find all the mailing lists
you receive (if they use the List-id header that is).
The idea of all this is to help you easily keep an overview of your
current e-mail communication, and M2 automatically adapts the "Active
contacts" and "Active threads". This works very well in practice and
while the other virtual folders could be created in other mail clients
this automatic adaptation is unique to M2.
The tight integration with the browser part of Opera means that the
mail view is just another side panel along with bookmarks, contacts,
notes and transfers. The actual message index and mail view, as well
as the composer, opens as tabs just as normal web pages; if you are
already used to the very well done Opera interface, navigation is a
snap. Mouse gestures also work for M2 pages.
In short, M2 is in many ways revolutionary and makes it easy to take
advantage of next generation mail client features without having to
do much manual setup.
Mail import: M2 imports from Outlook Express and Netscape on
Windows, but not under Linux unfortunately. One solution might be to
import the mail under Windows and copy the M2 mail store to Linux;
note that I have not tried this.
Account setup: Selecting "New account" from the Mail menu
starts a wizard for setting up an account, and makes this process very
easy for both POP and IMAP servers. The dialog only asks for the a
minimal amount of information, but does not have the option of
automatically querying the server for supported authentication
Create filters / virtual folders: Since M2 does not have
traditional folders there is no need for traditional filters; instead
a virtual folder is created. M2 supports the most important message
fields, but the selection is more limited than Evolution or
KMail. There is no option to search on message size, labels or
attachments (you can argue these are already supported, since they have
their own virtual folders, but still it could be useful to include
them in custom views) or date. There is, however, support for
specifying AND/OR on a per-rule basis. Regex matching is supported,
but the expressions must be written manually.
Notable is the support for creating sub-filters; such filters can be
set to only include messages in parents, and search rules can thus be
inherited. Since messages can also be assigned to virtual folders
(analogous to the copy function in traditional mail clients) even if
they do not match the search criteria, it is easy to use this to
simulate normal mail folders, but with more advanced
functionality. Also, the "Spam" folder as well as all virtual folders
can be set to learn from messages added and removed from the folder;
one supposes this uses a Bayesian approach similar to the buckets
found in the POPFile spam filter. Again a very useful feature as there
is no need to create complex rules; simply drag messages to the folder
and M2 will assign similar messages there automatically.
Address book: Right-clicking on a message and selecting "Add
contact" adds the sender to the contact list. The contact list is
accessed as a sidebar, and the quick find makes it easy to locate
individuals. There is no support for grouping, however, and only basic
information can be entered on each contact. Double clicking on a
contact views all messages involving him/her, and the contact is also
added to the "Active contacts". Clicking the compose button opens a
Searching: One of the main features of M2 is the very quick
search facility. Simple word searches can be created using the
"Start search" field, but there is also the option of more traditional
searches. Selecting "Search" from the mail menu brings up the search
dialog, which is quite limited compared to other mail clients; it is
apparent that this is only meant as a last resort. You can only search
on one header field, but an option for only searching the last year or
month is present. Selecting "Each word" instead of "Entire phrase"
enables Google-style searching on each word, with the option of
putting "-" in front of words to exclude them. The search can be
limited to a single virtual folder and optionally its sub-folders.
Note that these searches are significantly slower compared to the
close-to-instantaneous other searches in M2, especially when searching
a large number of messages. It is clear that this feature is not meant
for frequent use.
Reading messages: Double clicking any virtual folder opens its
messages in a tab. The message index includes by default the most
common columns as well as status, size, attachments and label. Using
the "View" drop-down box it is possible to set several view options,
like thread messages, only display recent messages, turn off display
of mailing lists, only view messages matching at least one filter, and
also several options relating to the display interface. Buttons on the
top gives easy access to common functions such as reply and
forward. There is also a quick find field for quickly finding
Another interesting feature is the "Quick reply" field on the bottom;
simply type in some text, click the "Quick reply" button and a reply
is sent without further action on your part. The message is quoted and
your signature inserted, so this can save some time as there is no
need to open a new window.
Composing messages: The composer opens in a new tab and is very
straight-forward. It is easy to add contacts from the address book,
header fields can be shown/hidden with the "View" drop-down box and
there is a separate area for dropping attachments. The message can be
sent or saved as a draft for future editing. There is no support for
writing HTML mail, however, nor is there any signing/encryption
support. The last item might be a show-stopper for some people, but it
is planned for a future M2 version.
IMAP: M2 tries its best to support IMAP well, although it is
not a perfect fit with M2's concept of a heavily indexed flat
database. Messages are indexed as they are downloaded, however, but
there does not seem to be support for server-side searches, which
somewhat limits its usefulness. With that said, the IMAP support works,
and if you choose to download message bodies as well as headers, you
will get all the benefits of M2's search features. If you want a
folder structure on the IMAP server you will have to organize it
Encryption: Currently not supported, but apparently planned for
an unspecified, later version. A workaround is to use a proxy server
doing the signing/encryption.
- Opera is closed source, but free if you choose the ad-sponsored
version. The fee to register is currently only $39, however, and
there are additional discounts for students. The price includes both
the browser and M2, as well as several other included features such
as a news reader (actually part of M2) and a basic IRC client.
- The Opera browser supports WAP pages directly, thus negating the
need for using an emulator.
- Although many parts of Opera cannot be changed via the GUI, there
is still a lot of room for customization by editing .ini files. The
procedures for doing this are also often documented in the extensive
and very readable documentation.
- The Opera browser is also available for several hand-held
devices, and supports small screen rendering, which makes
even normal web pages quite readable on small screens. You can try
it out in the normal Opera browser by clicking shift-F11.
to post comments)