back to article K-9

With its focus on the Gmail app, the Android stock e-mail client is a bit of a red-headed stepchild. It works well enough but it clearly doesn’t feel the love of its creators. That leaves a gap in the Market for a good e-mail client and luckily Android has one: K-9. Being a true open source community project - you can download …


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  1. benjymous

    Just use Titanium Backup

    If you're the sort of power user who'd consider K-9 mail, then you've probably already rooted your phone anyway - Titanium Backup will do a great job of backing up all your mail settings and restoring them onto a new phone / rom.

  2. TonyHoyle


    Tried K-9.. it had a couple of problems that meant I couldn't use it

    1. Being based on the Android 1.6 mailer, means it looks bloody awful (to the point of unusability) on a tablet, and pretty awful on even a Gingerbread phone, compared to the stock mailer (which is getting quite nice these days).

    2. They get imap folders wrong - they download from the first message, not the last. So my mailing list archives with 100,000 emails in would take several years to setup in K9, at 25 messages a time, with me hitting 'more' constantly. This is a complete showstopper.

    3. The 'sync last x weeks' feature is utterly broken, and produces only blank folders (probably due to issue 2... it's checking the first 25 messages, deciding there's nothing that fits, and ignoring the entire folder).

    I'm just waiting for a port of thunderbird.. meanwhile the stock Honeycomb email client is pretty good now, and hopefully the ICS one will be for the phones.

    1. Ian Yates


      2. I can't find any setting for this specifically, but this is definitely not how it works for me. If I open a folder and fetch, it gets the most recent 25 emails. In addition, you can change this number (even to "all").

      3. As per 2, I can't say I've personally had any issues on this front... do other apps with similar functionality perform correctly on your IMAP server?

      I guess YMMV, but I tried a lot of mail apps before settling on K9. The beauty of IMAP being that I can switch at any time, but I can't think of anything I need that K9 doesn't do.

      1. Dapprman

        I think the big problem is it's buggy, but mainly in small ways

        I still use K9 - but only because there's nothing better (at least free) for Android at the moment. Thing is it is buggy and new releases just bring new 'features'. I suspect it's too many fingers in the source code pie.

  3. dotdavid
    Thumb Up

    The worst bit about K-9...

    ... is the quirky icon ;-) An option of using a more generic email icon on shortcuts etc would be nice.

    Excellent app, although since using Gmail more and more (probably Google's intention) I've needed it less. I tend to use the built-in mail client nowadays as it does the job (although as you say it's very unloved by Google).

    1. dotdavid

      Thumbs down?

      I take it the designer of K-9's icon reads The Register? ;-)

      Don't take it personally, chap, I just think a robo-dog doesn't quite say "email" to me as much as, say, an envelope...

  4. trashbat
    Thumb Up

    K-9 & Gmail

    There's a fairly strong relationship between K-9 and the Android Gmail client. They're both Google-led projects for starters, but a lot of the look and feel is beyond coincidentally similar. I don't use Gmail much myself, so I don't know which one drives features, but I suspect it may be K-9.

    1. Dapprman

      K-9 is useless on Gmail

      Sure it works, if you want a complete new set of folders in your gmail mail box and the lack of ability to delete anything. I ended up dropping gmail from my K-9 config (I have other mail boxes to poll) and just use Google's own crappy email reader instead for that mailbox.

  5. Northern Fop
    Thumb Up

    Just changed, and I'm a very happy camper

    Got frustrated with the stock email failing to poll properly (endlessly 'refreshing' but not picking up new emails).

    Switched to K9 and have been very impressed:

    1) Every time I've thought "I wonder if I can change it to do X instead of Y", I can

    2) The learning curve was flat enough to impress a dutchman (and they know all about flat)

    3) No problems refreshing (yet - I know its built on a stock client base so I'm still being cautious)

  6. DF118

    Tis a good app, with one annoying bug (for me at least). It consistently mis-counts the number of unread items in my inbox. I currently have zero unread but it's telling me I have 8.

    That minor flaw is totally outweighed by the mere ability to specify IMAP sent/deleted/junk folders, which my default mail app couldn't even do.

  7. CarlC
    Thumb Up

    And it just works

    Been using it for a while now on both my HTC and my Xoom and I just had to add, IT JUST WORKS. Know it sounds stupid but after trying so many apps and having erm 'issues' K-9 has been a breath of fresh air.

  8. Jad
    Thumb Up

    IMAP with Mailbox Prefix

    Having had to set up IMAP with a Mailbox prefix on an Android phone is a real pain.

    HTC's version of the default Android mail client has had the "Mail prefix" option removed, and the only tool we found to get it working was K9 Mail ...

    Not only does it have all the options, and is easy to set up (if you know your settings) but it's easy to find in the android market :)

    I Recommend it to most Android users :)

  9. Craigness

    Settings backup

    Android has a backup facility, which icloud is a bit like, but it doesn't get used often. I saw a review of the Galaxy Nexus where the reviewer was spooked that some of his settings were available on the new device (wireless connections in that instance); if it was an Apple product he wouldn't be so surprised. Google should make a song-and-dance about their products instead of just releasing them and hoping people find out.

    As for the app, I like the Gmail app.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yes, it actually works

    My day-job is supporting email server software (Mailtraq, since you ask), so I come across all sorts of client software. From a protocol point of view, K-9 is one of the few that plays by the rules, and doesn't cause any problems. We recommend it. K-9's push IMAP is particularly nice, and saves the hassle and expense of Blackberry BES for mobile users. Clients from Apple and Microsoft, in contrast, cause all sorts of grief as they seem incapable of following RFCs consistently.

  11. uhuznaa

    Nested folders...

    Is here anyone who can recommend an Android mail client that works nicely with hundreds of deeply nested IMAP folders? Nicely means that you can actually read all folder names down to the n-th level, can browse them quickly and move emails around between them after selecting several somewhere (as in *not* one at a time)? And is still straightforward and easy enough to use for a CEO-type user?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's hideously ugly, the settings are all over the place, it's really sluggish, and it's a memory hog, but it's the only mail client that doesn't force you to top-post replies.

  13. Rich 2 Silver badge

    No client certificates

    K-9 does not support client SSL certificates, which makes properly secure IMAP and SMTP impossible.

    This is mostly a fault of Android because it fails to implement client SLL certs (which is a bloody stupid omission, and Google continue to completely ignore the issue), but there is no reason (I think) why this couldn't be implemented in K-( (and lots of other apps)

  14. Turtle_Fan

    Uninstalled in 3 minutes

    Yada yada yada, this thing won't even connect with our exchange 2010 SP2 server, or enforce attachment size limits.

    I was hoping for a more cumbersome version touchdown but alas, that's worse than stock when it comes to activesync (btw, even my asus transformer won't play nice with Activesync).

    So far, only HTC have cracked it, but that's purely because they re-worked the mail client themselves.

  15. DamienH

    90%? Erm, no. Just buy MailDroid and be done with it.

    I used K-9 for three months and blasphemed at it daily. If you want a free Google mail client that's a bit better than the stock one, sure, use K-9. If you have to actually get work done, have multiple accounts with multiple clients and want your calendaring to work, buy MailDroid. MailDroid works with all versions of IMAP, POP3 and Exchange, including OWA, which K-9 doesn't do.

    I have no affiliation with MailDroid, just an affiliation with not wasting time making an email app work.

    1. John 73

      Used it, but eventually moved on

      I used MailDroid for a while and it's pretty good, certainly better than K-9 (despite having an even worse icon!). But eventually I moved on because MD just filled me with Meh. I was never really sure why, but I suspect it was partly because of its ridiculous price (£10!).

      These days, I just use the stock mailers on my Samsung Galaxy S2 (which is OK apart from an irritating lack of long-press menus) and my Transformer tab. :-/

      1. Turtle_Fan

        Transformer tab...

        You got it to work with activesync or just plain imap/pop?

        If you got activesync to work on it please please share details because it looks like the stock asus mail app and android app, don't pay well with some of the latest security policies on exchange 2010 sp2.

  16. Bob 18
    Thumb Up

    Great IMAP Client

    I do IMAP, not Gmail. The standard Android IMAP client was practically unusable, a truly horrible program. I stopped noticing/hating my Android email when I switched to K-9. It's been perfect.

  17. Andrew Woodvine


    I see from the screen-shot you're using Fastmail (which is superb) too - you should do a review of that as well.

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