Composing New E-Mail Messages

You can start writing a new e-mail message by clicking File > New > Mail Message, or press Ctrl+N when in the mailing tool, or by clicking New in the toolbar.

Evolution E-mail Message

Enter an address in the To field. If you want, enter a subject in the Subject field, and a message in the box at the bottom of the window. After you have written your message, click Send.

Unicode, ASCII, and Non-Latin Alphabets

If you want to write in a non-Latin alphabet while using a Latin keyboard, try selecting a different input method in the message composer. Right-click in the message composition area and select an input method from the Input Methods menu, then begin typing. The actual keys vary by language and input style. For example, the Cyrillic input method uses transliterated Latin keyboard combinations to get the Cyrillic alphabet, combining letters where necessary. "Zh" and "ya" produce the appropriate single Cyrillic letters, and the single-quote (') produces a soft-sign character.

For greater language display capabilities, click Tools > Settings, then select the character set choices in the Mail Preferences and Composer Preferences sections. If you aren't sure which one to use, select UTF-8, which offers the greatest range of character displays for the greatest range of languages.

Using Character Sets

A character set is a computer's version of an alphabet. In the past, the ASCII character set was used almost universally. However, it contains only 128 characters, meaning it is unable to display characters in Cyrillic, Kanjii, or other non-Latin alphabets. To work around language display problems, programmers developed a variety of methods, so many human languages now have their own specific character sets, and items written in other character sets display incorrectly. Eventually, standards organizations developed the UTF-8 Unicode* character set to provide a single compatible set of codes for everyone.

Most e-mail messages state in advance which character set they use, so Evolution usually knows what to display for a given binary number. However, if you find that messages are displayed as rows of incomprehensible characters, try selecting a different character set in the mail settings screen. If your recipients can't read your messages, try selecting a different character set in the composer options dialog box. For some languages, such as Turkish or Korean, it might work best for you to select the language-specific character set. However, the best choice for most users is UTF-8, which offers the widest range of characters for the widest range of languages.

Sending Composed Messages Later

Evolution normally sends mail as soon as you click Send. However, can save a message to be sent later:

Working Offline

Offline mode is a tool designed for use with remote mail storage systems like IMAP or Exchange, in situations where you are not connected to the network at all times. The tool keeps a local copy of one or more folders to allow you to compose messages, storing them in your Outbox to be sent the next time you connect.

POP mail downloads all messages to your local system, but other connections usually download just the headers, and fetch the rest only when you want to read the message. Before you go offline, Evolution downloads the unread messages from the folders you have chosen to store.

To mark a folder for offline use, right-click the folder, then click Properties. Click Copy Folder Content Locally for Offline Operation.

Your connection status is shown by the small icon in the lower left border of the Evolution main window. When you are online, it displays two connected cables. When you go offline, the cables separate.

To cache your selected folders and disconnect from the network, click File > Work Offline, or click the connection status icon in the lower left of the screen. When you want to reconnect, click File > Work Online, or click the connection status icon again.


To attach a file to your e-mail:

  1. Click the Attach icon in the composer toolbar.

  2. Select the file you want to attach.

  3. Click OK.

You can also drag a file into the address area or to the attachment portion of the composer window. If you are attaching an image and want to send it inline rather than attached, drag the image into the text composition area of the composer window. Non-image files cannot be dragged into the text composition area.

The attachment display area is at the bottom of the composer window; you can expand or shrink it by clicking the small triangle in its upper right corner.

When you send the message, a copy of the attached file goes with it. Be aware that big attachments can take a long time to send and receive.

Specifying Additional Recipients for E-Mail

Evolution, like most e-mail programs, recognizes three types of addressee: primary recipients, secondary recipients, and hidden (blind) recipients. The simplest way to direct a message is to put the e-mail address or addresses in the To: field, which denotes primary recipients. Use the Cc: field to send a message to secondary recipients.

Addresses on the Bcc: list are hidden from the other recipients of the message. You can use it to send mail to large groups of people, especially if they don't know each other or if privacy is a concern. If your Bcc: field is absent, click View > Bcc Field.

If you frequently write e-mail to the same groups of people, you can create address lists in the contacts tool, and then send them mail as though they have a single address. To learn how to do that, see Creating a List of Contacts.

Evolution has the ability to let you specify the Reply-To in an e-mail. Using this, you can set up a special Reply-To for an e-mail. To do this:

  1. Open a compose window.

  2. Open the Reply-To field by clicking View > Reply To.

  3. Specify the address you want as the Reply-To address in the new Reply-To field.

  4. Complete the rest of your message.

  5. Click Send.

Choosing Recipients Quickly

If you have created address cards in the contacts tool, you can also type nicknames or other portions of address data, and Evolution displays a drop-down list of possible address completions from your contacts. If you type a name or nickname that can go with more than one card, Evolution opens a dialog box to ask you which person you meant.

If Evolution does not complete addresses automatically, click Tools > Settings, then click Autocompletion. There, select the groups of contacts you want to use for address autocompletion in the mailer.

Alternately, you can click the To:, Cc:, or Bcc: buttons to get a list of the e-mail addresses in your contacts. Select addresses and click the arrows to move them into the appropriate address columns.

For more information about using e-mail with the contact manager and the calendar, see Send me a Card: Adding New Cards Quickly and Scheduling With the Evolution Calendar.

Replying to E-Mail Messages

To reply to a message, click the message to reply to in the e-mail list and click Reply, or right-click within the message and select Reply to Sender. This opens the message composer. The To: and Subject: fields are already filled, although you can alter them if you prefer. In addition, the full text of the old message is inserted into the new message, either in grey with a blue line on one side (for HTML display) or with the > character before each line (in plain text mode), to indicate that it's part of the previous message.

If you're reading a message with several recipients, you can use Reply to All instead of Reply. If there are large numbers of people in the Cc: or To: fields, this can save substantial amounts of time.

Using the Reply To All Feature

Susan sends an e-mail to a client and sends copies to Tim and to an internal company mailing list of co-workers. If Tim wants to make a comment for all of them to read, he uses Reply to All, but if he just wants to tell Susan that he agrees with her, he uses Reply. His reply does not reach anyone that Susan put on her Bcc list, because that list is not shared with anyone.

If you subscribe to a mailing list, and want your reply to go just to the list, rather than to the sender, select Reply to List instead of Reply or Reply to All.

Searching and Replacing with the Composer

The message composer makes several text searching features available to you.

Find: Enter a word or phrase, and Evolution finds it in your message.

Find Regex: You can search for a complex pattern of characters, called a regular expression or "regex" in your composer window. If you're not sure what a regular expression is, you should ignore this feature.

Find Again: Select this item to repeat the last search you performed.

Replace: Find a word or phrase, and replace it with something else.

For all of these menu items, you can choose whether to Search Backwards in the document from the point where your cursor is. You can also determine whether the search is to be case sensitive in determining a match.

Enhancing Your E-Mail with HTML

Normally, you can't set text styles or insert pictures in e-mail. However, most newer e-mail programs can display images and text styles in addition to basic alignment and paragraph formatting. They do this with HTML, just like Web pages do.

Some people do not have HTML-capable mail clients, or prefer not to receive HTML-enhanced mail because it is slower to download and display. Because of this, Evolution sends plain text unless you explicitly ask for HTML.

Basic HTML Formatting

You can change the format of an e-mail message from plain text to HTML by choosing Format HTML.

To send all your mail as HTML by default, set your mail format preferences in the mail configuration dialog box. See Composer Preferences for more information.

HTML formatting tools are located in the toolbar just above the space where you actually compose the message. They also appear in the Insert and Format menus.

The icons in the toolbar are explained in tool-tips, which appear when you hold your mouse pointer over the buttons. The buttons fall into four categories:

Headers and Lists: At the left edge of the toolbar, you can choose Normal for a default text style or Header 1 through Header 6 for varying sizes of header from large (1) to tiny (6). Other styles include preformat, to use the HTML tag for preformatted blocks of text, and three types of bullet points for lists.

For instance, instead of using asterisks to mark a bulleted list, you can use the Bulleted List style from the style drop-down list. Evolution uses different bullet styles, and handles word wrap and multiple levels of indentation.

Text Styles: Use these buttons to determine the way your e-mail looks. If you have text selected, the style applies to the selected text. If you do not have text selected, the style applies to whatever you type next.

Button Description


Typewriter text, which is approximately the same as the Courier monospace font.

Bold A

Bolds the text.

Italic A

Italisies the text.

Underlined A

Underlines the text.

Strike through A

Strikes through the text.

Alignment: Located next to the text style buttons, the three paragraph icons should be familiar to users of most word processing software. The leftmost button aligns your text to the left, the center button centers text, and the right button aligns the text to the right.

Indentation Rules: The button with the arrow pointing left decreases a paragraph's indentation, and the right arrow increases its indentation.

Color Selection: At the far right is the color section tool, where a box displays the current text color. To choose a new color, click the arrow button to the right. If you have text selected, the color applies to the selected text. If you do not have text selected, the color applies to whatever you type next. You can select a background color or image by right-clicking on the message background, then selecting Style Page Style.

Advanced HTML Formatting

Under the Insert menu, there are several more items you can use to style your e-mail. To use these and other HTML formatting tools, make sure you have enabled HTML mode by using Format HTML.

Inserting a Link

Use the Insert a Link tool to put hyperlinks in your HTML messages. If you don't want special link text, you can just enter the address directly, and Evolution recognizes it as a link.

  1. Select the text you want to link from.

  2. Right-click in the text, then click Link.

  3. Type the URL in the URL field.

  4. Click Close.

Inserting an Image
  1. Click Image.

  2. Browse to and select the image file.

  3. Click OK.

Inserting a Rule

You can insert a horizontal line into the text to help divide two sections:

  1. Click Rule.

  2. Select the length, thickness, and alignment.

  3. Select Shaded if necessary.

  4. Click Close.

Inserting a Table

You can insert a table into the text:

  1. Click Table.

  2. Select the number of rows and columns.

  3. Select the type of layout for the table.

  4. Select a background for the table.

    To insert a picture for the background, click Browse and select the desired image.

  5. Click Close.

Forwarding Mail

When you receive an e-mail from someone, you can forward it to other individuals or groups that might be interested. You can forward a message as an attachment to a new message (this is the default) or you can send it in line as a quoted portion of the message you are sending. Attachment forwarding is best if you want to send the full, unaltered message to someone else. Inline forwarding is best if you want to send portions of a message, or if you have a large number of comments on different sections of the message you are forwarding. Remember to note from whom the message came, and whether you have removed or altered content.

To forward a message you are reading, click Forward on the toolbar, click Actions > Forward, or press Ctrl+F. If you prefer to forward the message inline instead of attached, click Actions > Forward Inline from the menu. Select an addressee as you would when sending a new message; the subject is already entered, although you can alter it if you want. Add your comments on the message in the composition frame, then click Send.

Attachments are only forwarded when you send the message as an attachment. Inline messages will not forward any attachments.

Tips for E-Mail Courtesy