In my quest for the Holy Grail of daily Internet use (IE, how to get vim-style keybindings and modular editing with everything), I finally — at 6 a.m. this morning — was delivered.
Update (11/28/2011): This post is out of date and no longer maintained.
Here are the steps I suggest as a method for recovering control of your keyboard, assuming that you prefer not to use mutt to check multiple IMAP email accounts.
The following will get you vim-style key bindings in Thunderbird and allow you to use vim — or another real text editor — to write your email. Easier than piecing together a 700 line .muttrc file, I promise!
Step 1: Get Thunderbird Beta 2 and the muttator 0.5 extension
Download and install Thunderbird Beta 2: www.mozillamessaging.com/en-US/thunderbird/early_releases/downloads/
Download and install the latest nightly build of Muttator 0.5, a beta add-on that lets you control Thunderbird with vim-like keybindings: http://download.vimperator.org/muttator/nightly/
Open the muttator*.xpi file with 7-zip (on Windows) or a compression app of your choice on Linux, then edit the file: install.rdf
Change the number between the
<maxversion></maxversion> tags to:
Open Thunderbird, click Tools -> Add-ons
Click Install and select muttator’s .xpi file, then restart Firefox
You will probably want to view the toolbar (if you want to easily use T-bird’s message search function) and the menu for preferences, so issue the following commands after hitting escape or another escape-mapped key to enter comnand mode:
:set guioptions =Tm <Return>
These two commands enabled the mail toolbar and top menu, then saved that setting in your muttatorc; the command help isn’t available yet, so refer to vimperator’s docs or an earlier version of muttator for help.
Step 2: Get the External Editor extension and configure it to use vim
Download External Editor 0.8, a Thunderbird extension that lets you edit your mail in the text editor of your choice: http://globs.org/download.php?lng=en
Open Thunderbird, go to Tools -> Add-ons, Install and choose the exteditor*.xpi file
Restart Firefox when directed
Go to Tools -> Add-ons -> Extensions, select External Editor, and click Options
Enter “vim” or “gvim” if either of those commands are available in your environment, or click Browse to tell External Editor the location of the vim binary
Click OK, then close the Options window
m command to write a new message if using muttator, or click the Write button
Oddly, a required step: Click View -> Toolbars -> Customize, then drag the External Editor button onto your toolbar (even if you just want to use ^E to open vim)
You will probably have to close the window and reopen a write/reply window to see the button correctly, but you should now have a Gvim / Vim button — to edit the mail with Vim, either push the button or hit ^E.
Step 3: Enjoy the Internet Again
That should do it! You can now use vim-like keybindings to browse the web and check your mail, and full on vim to write messages. Aren’t you glad you lived to see this day?
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