mutt query tool

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muttqt is a command line program to facilitate querying various email address storage solutions from mutt.


muttqt is designed to be called by the mutt query_command to provide a single entry for multiple email address storage locations.

muttqt currently interfaces with mutt aliases files, a database of email addresses that you have sent emails to, as well as functionality to communicate with other external tools, such as:

  • contacts - a small tool that talks to the Mac OS X Address Book
  • goobook - a Python program that accesses your Google contacts
  • mu - mu’s cfind command, part of the maildir indexing toolkit

muttqt requires python and sqlite3. It has been tested with python 3.9.5, but should work with most python 3 versions. For python 2.7 support, try the 0.1.0 release.

Advantages over lbdb

  • Actively supported. (oops!)
  • Easy to extend. As long as the external tools provide their output in the proper format, no code changes to muttqt need to be made.
  • Stores email addresses you have sent messages to in either aSqlite3 database or a flat text file (lbdb-compatible).
  • UTF-8 support.


It can be installed by running

make install

If you would like to install it in a location other than /usr/local, use the prefix setting when running make install like so:

make prefix=/path/to/install install

You can also install via homebrew on OS X. The formula is not yet in the homebrew main repository, so it can be installed from my github page:

brew install

On OS X, you will probably also want to install the contacts program. It can be installed easily by using homebrew:

brew install


muttqt’s configuration and data files are stored in the ~/.muttqt directory. The configuration is called muttqt.conf. To generate a default configuration file, run muttqt --write-config. An annotated version of this conf file can be found in scripts/mutt.conf in the source release or in /usr/local/share/muttqt/muttqt.conf when installed.

muttqt is set up to utilise an Sqlite3 database for its sent email address storage. This can be changed to a flat text file that is lbdb compatible by changing the ‘format’ parameter in the ‘sent’ section to ‘text’.

The Sqlite3 back end is recommended over the flat text file one. As of now, duplicates are not scrubbed from the file when using the ‘text’ back end.


To add data sources, add an entry to the ‘helpers’ item in the ‘global’ section. The default entry is:

helpers = mutt_alias, sent

The order of the entries determines the output ordering.

External helpers

Even though the default configuration file is not set up to query the following tools, it has sections for contacts (osx_abook), goobook, and mu. To use any of these external helpers, assuming they have been installed, add the appropriate one to the ‘helpers’ line.

The section name in the conf for an external helper program is arbitrary and can be set to whatever you want. However, it must be the same as what is entered in the ‘helpers’ line.

The settings available for an external helper program are:

  • cmd: The CLI command that is used to run a search. The query argument is appended to the end of this.

  • text: The text used in the search results in the third field. If this is left blank, the helper name is used.

  • cols: The columns of the helper tool’s output to use. Defaults to the first two. The content of this output should be the email address followed by the name of the contact.

  • ignore_first: Ignore the first line of output. Defaults to false.

Example Usage

This returns all matches for somename from all of your configured data sources:

muttqt -q somename

The following usage will store any email address in the To, CC, or BCC headers and store them in the sent address data file.

cat email.txt | muttqt -f

To automate this harvesting of emails, see the section “Setting up sent email integration”.

Setting up mutt


To configure mutt to use muttqt, set the following in your muttrc file:

set query_command="/usr/local/bin/muttqt -q '%s'"

Setting up sent email integration

The muttqt -f command provides a method of searching the To, CC, or BCC headers of input data. An easy way to automate address capture is to set the mutt sendmail command to a wrapper script. Either use the tee command to split the input message to both muttqt and your sendmail program, or copy the input mail to a temporary file. Here is a short example of the tee method:

tee >(muttqt -f) | sendmail $*

Here is an example of the temp file method, useful if you want to do other things with your email message before sending:

#!/bin/sh -
muttqt='/usr/local/bin/muttqt -f'


# save msg in file to re-use it for multiple tests
t=`mktemp -t mutt.XXXXXX` || exit 2
cat > $t

# q all messages first
cat $t | ($muttqt)
cat $t | ${sendmailbin}
rm -f $t

The above script works on OS X. One might need to change the mktemp command to work on other OSes. These scripts can be found in the scripts directory of the source distribution, or in the /usr/local/share/muttqt directory.

Other commands

Importing your lbdb sent addresses

Run the following (pointing the command at the appropriate file):

muttqt -i ~/.lbdb/m_inmail.list

Exporting the sent SQL database

Running the following will produce an lbdb compatible file:

muttqt -d output.txt

This file can be edited and reimported to muttqt in the same manner as an lbdb sent address file.

Editing and pruning the databse

Running muttqt --print-sent will display every address in the sent mail database, prefixed by the SQL row id. If you would like to remove a specific set of addresses, run muttqt --remove-sent row_id, where row_id are the row ids of the addresses you would like to remove, separated by commas.

If you would like to remove all addresses last used before a certain date, run:

muttqt --date-prune date

where date is in a YYYY-MM-DD format.


I’ve used lbdb for years, but began to have problems compiling the Mac OS X Address Book tool since lbdb is basically abandoned. I went so far as to actually pick it up, hack on it a bit, and put my version on github. This is the version that can be found on the homebrew packaging system for Mac OS X.

So, I decided I could probably write a stripped down, easy-to-maintain version in Python. All I needed to do was write a small Objective C tool to interface with the Mac OS X Address Book (done) and then hack a bit at the Python code.

Developer Info

muttqt is written by Tim Gray. It’s obviously inspired by lbdb.

The muttqt homepage can be located on github at


muttqt is released under an Apache License 2.0. Please see the LICENSE.markdown file included with the distribution.