This article is supposed to mark out some of the deficiencies in the Evolution UI. It has been requested Ubuntu switch to Thunderbird. It seems this is for usability reasons. Mark Shuttleworth has declared looks and usability as a feature. Less people will use software that does not look and feel well. The opposite is also true, take Apple as an example. Therefore, developers, please put UI improvements on high priority. Let's here collect possible improvements of the UI and hope for a lively discussion.

Toolbars and Buttons

  • 'Show' and 'Search'-Toolbar: User should be able to disactivate it. SOLUTION: Add menu item into appearance > alignment.

  • 'Show' and 'Search'-Toolbar: It seems out of place, ontop of the viewing area. It appears to be put there to make clear the search is only specific to the current items actually viewed, but that distracts the eye. The viewer expects to see window content, and the toolbar isn't. SOLUTION: It should be made a "general toolbar", meaning it runs over the whole width of the screen. Maybe there is even a better solution than that. Own idea: Maybe integrate this as in Firefox?
  • 'Show' and 'Search'-Toolbar: Seems to be vertically compressed and not be within GNOME standard specifications. This becomes evident when compared with the ordinary (top) toolbar. The situation can be compared with the Nautilus path toolbar. In Nautilus, it has the same height as other toolbars, even though the font height would not require this. SOLUTION: Increase height. {{attachment:Compressed.jpg|none|framed|The eye won't find an optical guide}}
  • 'Show' and 'Search'-Toolbar: Descriptive text does not visually relate to the boxes. SOLUTION: Put text in dropdown boxes, so that their function becomes evident. Or put a symbol next to them, as in iTunes. Every child understands the program, and nowhere it says "Search (field) in (Dropdown Box).
  • Bottom left buttons should be integrated with the toolbar. It seems they only exist to mimick Outlook. Also on low resolution screens, they build multiple rows which cannot be bypassed by broadening the tree view window. SOLUTION: Integrate them with the main toolbar.
  • Bottom left buttons seem to belong nowhere. It looks as if they just stick out of nothing, on that grey background. SOLUTION: Same as above.
  • It would be nice if the toolbars and buttons could be customized, moved around, etc. I for myself never use the print or delete buttons (or the memo tab), but would like to have a button for the filter list. Solution: dunno, this goes probably down to some core elements of evolution :/
  • Functions like the "evolution-addressbook-export" tool should be accessable from the menubar (probably the file menu). Solution: add this to the menu. If a small wrapperscript (with a file-dialog and so on) is requested i could do this. Just mail me what is needed -- [Seelenfeuer]
  • In the Mail-Preview there should be a button somewhere to display images in mails where they arent shown.
  • Bottom left buttons: would be nice if you could right-click and "Open in new window". Similar feature in Outlook, allows you to have separate calendar and mail windows, for example, open at the same time.

General Appearance

  • Windows are not horizontally aligned. SOLUTION: Can be accomplished with search toolbar vertical resizing.{{attachment:alignment.jpg|none|framed|Here, it all comes together: Windows and text not aligned, font size mismatches}}
  • The dark grey flat area serves only one apparent function: Item count. The other information is presented in 3 other locations (Window title, taskbar, and as seen on the picture, by the highlit folder). No other application in GNOME has a panel like this, so it does not seem to comply with standards, but more as a copy of Outlook. SOLUTION 1: Complete removal. The item count could be put in the status bar on the very bottom. ALTERNATE SOLUTION: Do like in Nautilus or Rhythmbox.<gallery>

  Image:Unnecessary.jpg|Current state
  Image:nautilus-tree.jpg|Nautilus ("Orte")
  Image:rhythmbox-tree.jpg|Rhythmbox ("Quelle") </gallery>
  • The status bar at the bottom should always have some seperations (like in firefox), for now it just looks dumb. Solution: embed at least 2 textfields (as at least 2 are needed. Maybe 3 if the mail count should be displayed there, too) -- [Seelenfeuer]
  • A toasterbox for new mails etc would be nice (or at least the possibility to define a command on new mails). Solution: maybe guifications could be usefull once it is released (doesnt need a system tray -> good for enlightenment-users)...


  • The selection bar should have one color only, no matter if it highlights a white or a grey (background) line.
  • This none should look like this: none

(This Appears to be fixed as of 2.9.2 Except for the initial change of the status bar --Cameron Kellough)

  • The "To:" Selection dialog is quite messy.
    • Theres no need for the to, cc and bcc boxes, the addresses are added to their respective lines anyway (and look much nicer there!). If there should really be a need for those boxes they should be at least resizable.
    • Its a real pain to look at the contact list. Solution1: just display the contacts with 1 infotag which fits in the list (i.e. "file as"). Solution2: make the list resizable/autoresize to the required width.-- [Seelenfeuer]
  • Provide option to display the Mail Account that receives the email as a Column in the Mail View. When users have multiple Mail Accounts, the user must dig down into Message Source to figure out which Mail Account received the message. ThunderBird, Outlook and Outlook Express all provide the option to display a column in the Mail View showing the receiving Account. Not sure why Evolution does not. -- [Peter Bullock]

Calendar View

  • Remove this graphics glitch. SOLUTION: (Orange) calendar headline needs to be INSIDE of the field.{{attachment:calendar.jpg|none|framed|The orange bar is too high}}
  • Evolution doesnt remember that the month-view field to the left was resized and always sticks to the default hight.A lot of space is vasted this way. -- [Seelenfeuer]
  • Please keep the hole worktime visible (like already definded with begin/end), that means, if the user changes the window-heigh, at least the worktime of the day(s) keeps visible, the font should scale too.


 Image:Cal-1.png|current state
 Image:Cal-2.png|resized font 
 Image:Cal-3.png|keep worktime visible </gallery>   -- [tac]
  • the biggest font size is used at the timebar. I am not blind. I think, system-default +2 is enough. -- [tac]
  • "select today" should also scroll the calendar-pane to the actual time, to get the red line visible. -- [tac]

The current flags are very difficult to discern for colour blind users. Where possible flags should have different shapes and not just different colours. For example, I have modified my own followup-done flag to look like this:

  • Distinguish better between upcoming tasks. Below is an example that shows the current 3 different colours used, i.e. red for late, blue for due today, gray for due sometime later than today:


What this view doesn't let me see is which of the gray tasks are between their start and due date (i.e. should be in progress), and which ones have not yet reached their start date. In the example above, the 3rd task is actually past its start date already, whereas the 4th one has not yet reached its start date, but I can't see this from the colours. As a result it's hard to know which task I should get started on today, especially when tasks in general are multi-day (or week) tasks such as the ones in the example above.

SOLUTION: use another colour to indicate that a task is on or after its start date but not yet its due date. I suggest green, as in the example below. Really nice would be to vary the colour intensity as the task approaches its due date, as is done with the past-due tasks already.

EvolutionTasksImproved.png --Robertb 22:30, 13 April 2008 (MDT)

  • In Month-View appointments should be moveable. Just now this is only possible in Week-View. For planning it is often very usefull to move All-Day-Events fast from one day to another.
  • The Month-View doesn't scroll very smooth. It is jumping from one month to the next. Many times this is not very practical. Would be much better if it scrolls just smooth without mattering about the beginning of months.



  • Currently, the are only two types of views: Address Card and List view. Neither of these are easy to browse with.
    • Add a Tiles view, consisting of the contact's image or a standard icon, if no image is present, the name of the contact and (maybe) a signle line of information, such as an email address or primary phone number. -- [Dasch]
  • The "Address Cards" view in the addressbook is quite confusing and not very clear. Solution: The fields should at least all have the same hight. This could be achieved by a (user-)defined list of items which should be shown in one card, even if they contain no information. -- [Seelenfeuer]

4/19/2009 I just tried the Evolution 2.24 for Windows and am impressed at the progress made. Before it was no better than Outlook Express and a far cry from Outlook. Now you are getting closer. But portability is a big problem. Second, full addresses do not port over. But I think the biggest problem I see immediately is the poor Contact Form for editing. Take a look at an Outlook Contact Form and you will see that all pertinent information including notes is on the front tab. In fact, I never have to look at the other tabs. There is just no excuse for basic information to be over 3 tabs and not easy to see. Also, the notes section is pitifully small unless you make the contact form grandiously large. Finally there should be a link to dial the phone number through the contact form via the modem on the computer. This is very handy for myself, as I do not have to physically dial numbers, I can just choose which one I want on the Contact Form and click on the Dial icon.

Also, on Show Fields, why can't you choose business address for the list view?


The preferences window is confusing, mainly because it contains the settings for all components. A long-term solution would be to separate the components into their own applications with their own preferences windows.

Mail Accounts

  • Should be moved into a window of its own, accessible from the "Edit" menu.


  • Should eventually be removed and replaced by Seahorse.
  • Please remember x509 certificate support, which is quite nice in Evolution, but doesn't appear to exist in Seahorse.
    • next release cycle of seahorse should see some work on x509 support. --EvaSDK 16:22, 1 April 2007 (MDT)


  • Seems odd that this has a top-level menu entry...

 NOTE: This all is a stub. Will expand with examples and suggestions.

Usability Changes

I would add this to the UI discussion as well as not only looks but having an intuative interface for users is hugely important. (this has been moved from discussion)

All of these suggestions are based around my use of Evolution 2.8.3 as primary mail client in a non IT, office based organisation and rolling it out to non technical staff. Some of these may or may not be feasible but are desirable from an end user perspective.

Compose mail

  • Support of custom fonts - eg Sans, Verdana etc. and custom font size -6, 8, 10, 12, 16 etc. changeable from inside the mail editor. EG. I want to be able to highlight a sentence and make it size 20, red, and "times new roman" while the rest of the email remains the same size and font.
  • Autocomplete of To: field based on previously typed in email addresses - eg I send an email to "" next time I type me@ I would like it to autocomplete the rest of the email WITHOUT it having to be stored in my contacts. If it is necessary for the email address to be saved as a contact for this to work it should save the email to a seperate contact book for addresses that I have sent it to.

    • In "edit->preferences->mail preferences->auto contacts", select "Create contact when..." and choose an appropriate addressbook. You can't have autocomplete without an addressbook to store the contact. Dont forget to select this addressbook to search for autocompletion after enabling this option. --EvaSDK 15:51, 1 April 2007 (MDT)

*** My evolution only gives me the option to do that on reply which doesn't suit my industry (recruitment) - I reply to hundreds of emails a week that I will never email again. There are however alot of people who don't send many emails to me but I have to send to them.... I would like it to be able to add an email address that I type in manually. (at the moment I go through my sent items to add to contacts) -- Kye Macdonald 8:35, 4 April 2007

  • Insertion of signatures should be in the most recent part of the email thread not the bottom of the email. I have my signature set to be inserted into new and reply/forward email and emails to be forwarded inline. This results in my signature being inserted below the content of the replied to email rather than above it.
  • If a message includes pictures that can be downloaded but have been blocked by the default settings in Evolution have it display a notification that the images have been blocked and a simple one click button that will download them - I understand the option to download the images is under the view menu when the message is open or that CTRL - I will download them, but my experience with my people has been they have assumed the email is broken rather than looking for something to fix their view.
    • good point, this could probably be done through an eplugin. --EvaSDK 15:51, 1 April 2007 (MDT)

Few more

  • When you tab from the subject line of a compose email message it puts a tab into the message body.
  • When you reply or forward an email with the old email quoted or inline there is no space at the top of the email to type your reply into.
  • Auto-resize options for image attachments.
  • Forward notification in "status" field in main window of evolution. Atm you can see when you have read and replied to an email but not forwarded it on

-- Kye Macdonald

Apps/Evolution/User_Interface (last edited 2013-08-08 22:50:02 by WilliamJonMcCann)