How to never mark mails as seen?


I generally manage my mail in a terminal using Mutt. Very occasionally though, I need to read an email from my phone, so I’ve installed K-9 Mail v5.600 on my Android phone.

It pretty much all works fine except that after I open K-9 mail and look at some folders (but not actually open any emails) and then quit, it marks the entire folder as “seen”. Then when I look at it again in Mutt all the mails that were once considered “New” i.e. unread, now have an “O” flag instead.

I would ideally like it so that K-9 Mail does not change the status of any message unless I have tapped on it in order to read it.

Is this possible?

If not then I guess I can try using an ACL on the Dovecot IMAP server side in order to restrict my user to only “lookup” and “read” permissions.


I have a very similar setup to yours, and I have never seen this happen. I just checked my .muttrc file and found that I had this line:

set nomark_old

If you’re not using the old flag for anything, that will probably solve your problem.

Thanks for the suggestion. I did not have that set, so I have set it now. Unfortunately it did not change the behaviour.

I opened K-9 Mail and tapped on an unread mail. I then backed out of that mail and slid my finger down from the top to make K-9 mail reload the folder. The mail that I had read then was marked read in Mutt, but also every single other mail in the maildir that was previously considered new (N flag in Mutt) became Old (O flag).

I then had to recover from this by marking every ‘O’ mail as ‘N’ in Mutt, manually.

Then I suspect something is happening within Dovecot to set the old flag, as K-9 does not touch the “old” flag or even have a representation for it [0]. The “seen” flag is what is used to represent read/unread status.

Do you have any sieve scripts or other processing plugins applied to your mail storage in Dovecot? What is your mail storage backend? Can you take a look at what flags your messages have in that backend? For example, my backend is maildir, and most of my messages have no flags (",") or just the seen flag (",S").

You’re relying on one of these oddities of IMAP, the \Recent flag. Opening a folder in read-write mode will reset the \Recent flag on all messages in that folder.

I believe there are conditions where K-9 Mail 5.600 opens a folder in read-write mode when it doesn’t have to. Try using the latest beta version. See How do I become a beta tester?