ImapDigester: Takes a tsunami of bot-to-human emails, digests them, deletes and rewrites a handful of emails for human consumption (directly into an IMAP folder)
Switch branches/tags
Nothing to show
Clone or download
Fetching latest commit…
Cannot retrieve the latest commit at this time.


Reads all* your robot-sent notifications and digests them into a single digest email, that has some smarts: how much you've read previously or not.

  • all, means three types of credit card alerts, and notifications from Github, Linkedin, Hipchat, Confluence, Jira, and StackExchange so far.

To reiterate: this tech perpetually rewrites emails directly in your Inbox with 'sending' (SMTP) emails at all.



I've been blogging for a while towards this better pervasive inbox:

General Setup

For this to work, you need two dedicated email addresses:

  1. For incoming machine-to-human notifications to send to, you don't ever tell anyone else about it, as it is not what you correspond with people through. It is dedicated to this process. You pass it to applications that issue notifications. You're going to a script (see below) that reads and deletes from inbox for you. Lets call this the notification inbox.

  2. For Digest emails to be written/rewritten to. That script (below) is going to look after the inbox for this one. This email address is totally private to you - not even other machines know about it. Just you, software-daemons you deployed and your email client(s). Let's call this the digest inbox. It could be your regular email address, but what if there's a bug and it deletes all you email - yup, that's right, use a dedicated email account for this one too too.

Maybe grabbing two email addresses from a major email provider the above two is best. Your email client (desktop or mobile) may be able to show and "all inboxes" view of your regular email, and your digest inbox just fine. The Outlook client on the iPhone certainly can.

Deploying your ImapDigester process

Installation Prerequisites

Install Python 3.6 or above:

Actually Python3, VitualEnv and Pip3

(they should all be part of Python itself in my opinion (in the same distro). Also VirtualEnv should be python3-virtualenv to make it clearer it is for Python only)

brew install python3 virtualenv pip3
# (you might have to force link that)
# apt-get for Linux:
apt-get install python3 virtualenv python3-pip

Then cloning of the ImapDigester source:

git clone
cd imapdigester

Then creation of a virtual environment:

virtualenv .
source bin/activate

Then Python packages, via pip3 (into the virtual env):

pip3 install lxml BeautifulSoup4 IMAPClient arrow jinja2 simplejson mockextras jsonpickle

On Ubuntu, yu may need to do this first:

pip3 install setuptools

Installing it on a Pi Zero, and running it for $1.10 a year (electricity)

Copy an initial shell script (make it executable too):

chmod +x

Then customize as appropriate for your email provider and account details. If you run that shell script, you should be able it's output in imapdigester_output.txt.

You also have a in the root folder that should be copied to and then edited to customize. You don't have to delete th digiesters you're not needing (they only tak a small amount of CPU time per notification email and are effectively benign if they don't match against the headers of the email. You would add new digesters here too, as well as change parameters for individual digesters that you do want.

Scheduling the job with Cron

In /etc/cron.d make a file run_imapdigester (sudo needed):

*/10 * * * * pi /home/pi/imapdigester/

Make sure you added a newline to the end of that line.

The setup above will cause cron to run every ten minutes. That source file should say something like:

cd /path/to/imapdigester
source bin/activate

Reboot the cron system, to start it, like so:

sudo /etc/init.d/rsyslog restart

If that file does not appear within 10 mins (zero bytes), then you can change cron to log by editing a line in /etc/rsyslog.conf that is about cron's logging, then tail /var/log/cron.log which may give an insight as to what is wrong.

Setup Choices

The Inbox for the accounts is the default, but via --notifications-folder and --digests-folder you could specify a different folder for processing. Case might be important.

You can have the same email account for notifications and digests. I choose not to, because I'm a chicken. Similarly, you can have the same folder within the same email account if you want to.

If you leave out --notifications-pw or --digests-pw you will be prompted at startup to enter them. If notifications and digest use the same email account, you'll only be prompted once.

If you're using a self-signed IMAP server use --digests-cert-check-skip and/or --notifications-cert-check-skip to turn off the verification of the certificate for the IMAP server

If your IMAP server isn't over SSL (port 993) at all, then you can specify --notifications-no-ssl and --digests-no-ssl to unencrypted IMAP (port 143).

The One Dollar & Ten Cents claim?

The $1.10 referenced is 0.7 Watt for 8760 hours (one year) at current electricity prices (18c/KWh). The Pi Zero on its own consumes a quarter of that, and the rest is the USB wifi dongle. Inefficiency of a 110V to 5V transformer is not factored in. Refer a Pi power usage page.

Digest emails are available for these services

  • Credit Cards spends (Chase, Amex, Citibank)
  • Stack Exchange notifications
  • Github Repo Notifications (public portal or Github Enterprise)
  • Hipchat Notifications
  • Linkedin Invitations
  • Confluence Notifications
  • Jira Notifications (Atlassian's hosted or your own install)
  • Reddit Notifications

Credit Card usages.

A single email that can, so far, pull in transactions from American Express (US), Citibank (US) and Chase (US). Ordered by most recent first. These guys made it hard. For want of a text/json multi-part chunk (that includes a transaction ref for correlation).

Read more

Stack Exchange Notifications

Read more

Github Repo Notifications

Whatever you're watching in terms of repo, will be distilled into a single email. This gets longer and longer as an email, with new notification gravitating to the top of the email. Versus the last time the email was written:

  • If there's new notifications the email will be rewitten.
  • If not the email is left alone (including the date of the email, which means it drifts down your inbox)

Versus whether you've read the email or not:

  • A line appears in the email showing what notifications (relating to topics) that have you have read versus what you have not.

If you delete the email, the server deletes all the things you've read from the accumlated list of notifications too. i.e. it appears to start over.

Note - there is grouping around topic (repo-issue, repo-PR, repo-commit-comment).

You can configure a GithubEnterprise usage too - just edit (hopefully you already copied it from - to set domain names, emails etc.

Hipchat Notifications

Both 1-1 messages and Room mentions are rolled up into a single most-recent-first email.

If you're interested in increasing the support for Hipchat - please vote on feature request #579

Linkedin Invitations

See wiki page

Confluence Notifications

Notifications are rolled up into a single most-recent-first email:

  • User X commented on page (done)
  • User X changed a page (done)
  • User X added a page (done)

You must configure (hopefully you already copied it from to set the emails confluence uses to notify you, and a short name for that instance.

If you're interested in increasing the support for Confluence - please vote on feature request #41391

Jira Notifications

Notifications are rolled up into a single most-recent-first email:

  • User X created an issue (done)
  • User X changed an issue (done)
  • User X commented on an issue (done)

You must configure (hopefully you already copied it from to set the emails confluence uses to notify you, and a short name for that instance.

Refer too and

Reddit Notifications

Reddit Notififactions (for messages) are merged into a single digest email, that looks like:


One merged 'digest' email per Reddit account, and you'd instantiate a separate digester for each reddit account. Direct messages, as well as replies, comments, and mentions are al supported.

Clicking to 'reply' may launch a browser but you could be in the wrong account to it may not work as you'd expect. There's nothing that can be done about that.

Command emails

If you email the subject line git-pull to the digest email address, the daemon will update itself from git (provided there are no merge conflicts).

If you email the subject-line pause to the digest email address, the daemon will pause the digesting of notifications.

If you email the subject-line resume to the digest email address, the daemon will resume from it's paused state.

Each command email is deleted as soon as it is acted upon

Yet to do

  • More Integration tests (samples of emails need to be sanitized and copied into testdata/ or tests).