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NetBSD 6.1.5 - man page for mailx (netbsd section 1)

MAIL(1) 			   BSD General Commands Manual				  MAIL(1)

     mail, mailx, Mail -- send and receive mail

     mail [-EIinv] [-a file] [-b bcc-addr] [-c cc-addr] [-r rcfile] [-s subject] to-addr ...
	  [- sendmail-flags]
     mail [-EIiNnv] [-H[colon-modifier]] -f [name]
     mail [-EIiNnv] [-H[colon-modifier]] [-u user]

     mail is an intelligent mail processing system, which has a command syntax reminiscent of
     ed(1) with lines replaced by messages.

     -a    Attach file to the message.

     -b    Send blind carbon copies to list.  List should be a comma-separated list of names.

     -c    Send carbon copies to list of users.

     -E    Don't send messages with an empty body.  This is useful for piping errors from cron

     -f    Read in the contents of your mbox (or the specified file) for processing; when you
	   quit, mail writes undeleted messages back to this file.

     -H    Print the header summaries and exit.  The optional colon-modifier string must begin
	   with a ':' and be followed by one or more of the characters described in the
	   Specifying messages section below.  E.g., ``mail -H:n'' will display just new message

     -I    Forces mail to run in interactive mode even when input isn't a terminal.  In particu-
	   lar, the ~ special character when sending mail is only active in interactive mode.

     -i    Ignore tty interrupt signals.  This is particularly useful when using mail on noisy
	   phone lines.

     -N    Inhibits the initial display of message headers when reading mail or editing a mail

     -n    Inhibits reading /etc/mail.rc upon startup.

     -r    Specify an alternate user rcfile to load.  This overrides the value specified in the
	   environment variable MAILRC which in turn overrides the default ~/.mailrc file.

     -s    Specify subject on command line (only the first argument after the -s flag is used as
	   a subject; be careful to quote subjects containing spaces.)

     -u    Is equivalent to:

		 mail -f /var/mail/user

     -v    Verbose mode.  The details of delivery are displayed on the user's terminal.

   Sending mail
     To send a message to one or more people, mail can be invoked with arguments which are the
     names of people to whom the mail will be sent.  You are then expected to type in your mes-
     sage, followed by a 'control-D' at the beginning of a line.

     Any flags following the list of recipients, will be passed, together with their arguments,
     directly to sendmail(1).  For example to change your From address to somebody@somewhere.net
     you can specify:

	   mail recipient -f somebody@somewhere.net

     To prevent multiple copies of a message being sent to the same address, duplicate addresses
     (after alias expansion) are removed from the bcc-addr, cc-addr, and to-addr lists.  In addi-
     tion, addresses on the cc-addr and to-addr lists are removed if they occur on the bcc-addr
     list and addresses on the cc-addr list are removed if they occur on the to-addr list.  If
     the to-addr list is empty after these deletions, most systems will insert the line ``To:
     undisclosed recipients:;''.

     The section below Replying to or originating mail, describes some features of mail available
     to help you compose your letter.

   Reading mail
     In normal usage mail is given no arguments and checks your mail out of the post office, then
     prints out a one line header of each message found.  The current message is initially the
     first message (numbered 1) and can be printed using the print command (which can be abbrevi-
     ated p).  You can move among the messages much as you move between lines in ed(1), with the
     commands + and - moving backwards and forwards, and simple numbers.

   Disposing of mail
     After examining a message you can delete (d) the message or reply (r) to it.  Deletion
     causes the mail program to forget about the message.  This is not irreversible; the message
     can be undeleted (u) by giving its number, or the mail session can be aborted by giving the
     exit (x) command.	Deleted messages will, however, usually disappear never to be seen again.

   Specifying messages
     Many commands (e.g., delete, from, and print) accept a list of messages as an argument.
     Messages may be specified by their message number, by a range of messages, or by a pattern
     string matching certain fields in the header as described below.  These message ``specs''
     may be combined by the usual binary boolean operations '&', '|', and '^', which denote,
     respectively, a logical ``and'', ``or'', and ``xor''.  Logical expressions may be grouped
     with parentheses '(' and ')' and negated with '!'.  If the binary operator is missing
     between two message specs, it is assumed to be a '|'.  This is for simplicity, backwards
     compatibility, and also to to facilitate using the '|' symbol to denote a pipe.  (See

     Besides the obvious (base10) message numbers, the characters '^', '-', '.', '+', and '$'
     denote, respectively, the first message, the message before the ``dot'' (the current
     message), the ``dot'' message, the message following the ``dot'', and the last message.

     A ``message range'' consists of two message numbers separated by a '-'.  A '*' denotes all
     messages and is equivalent to '^-$'.

     A pattern is a string (not beginning with any of the above special characters).  If it does
     not begin with a '/', it is compared with the senders address.  If it begins with a '/', and
     searchheaders is not defined, the remainder of the string is compared with the subject
     field.  (See searchheaders for searching other header fields or the message body.)  If
     regex-search is not defined, then the comparison is a simple case insensitive substring
     match.  (See regex-search for regular expression matches.)

     A list of messages may be restricted by a ``colon-modifier'' string, i.e., a ':' followed by
     one or more of the characters:

	   d	   deleted
	   e	   edited
	   m	   mboxed
	   n	   new
	   o	   old
	   p	   preserved
	   r	   read
	   s	   saved
	   t	   tagged
	   u	   unread and not new
	   !	   invert the meaning of the colon-modifiers

     If there are no address specifications other than colon-modifiers, the colon-modifiers apply
     to all messages.  Thus ``from netbsd :n'' would display the headers of all new messages with
     'netbsd' in the sender's address, while ``from :!r'' and ``from :nu'' would both display all
     new and unread messages.  Multiple colon-modifiers may be specified and a single ':' with no
     letters following indicates the colon-modifier from the preceding command.

     For example:

	   from 1 12 3-5

     would display the headers from messages 1, 3, 4, 5, and 12.

	   from anon & ( /foo | /bar )

     would display all headers that had 'anon' in the sender's address and either 'foo' or 'bar'
     in the subject line.

     Generally, commands cannot select messages that are not displayed, such as deleted or hidden
     messages, the exception being the undelete command.

   Replying to or originating mail
     You can use the reply command to set up a response to a message, sending it back to the per-
     son who it was from.  Text you then type in, up to an end-of-file, defines the contents of
     the message.  While you are composing a message, mail treats lines beginning with the char-
     acter ~ specially.  For instance, typing ~m (alone on a line) will place a copy of the cur-
     rent message into the response right shifting it by a tab stop (see indentprefix variable,
     below).  Other escapes will set up subject fields, add and delete recipients to the message,
     and allow you to escape to an editor to revise the message or to a shell to run some com-
     mands.  (These options are given in the summary below.)

   Ending a mail processing session
     You can end a mail session with the quit (q) command.  Messages which have been examined go
     to your mbox file unless they have been deleted in which case they are discarded.	Unexam-
     ined messages go back to the post office.	(See the -f option above).

   Personal and system wide distribution lists
     It is also possible to create a personal distribution lists so that, for instance, you can
     send mail to ``cohorts'' and have it go to a group of people.  Such lists can be defined by
     placing a line like

	   alias cohorts bill ozalp jkf mark kridle@ucbcory

     in the file .mailrc in your home directory.  The current list of such aliases can be dis-
     played with the alias command in mail.  System wide distribution lists can be created by
     editing /etc/mail/aliases, see aliases(5) and sendmail(1); these are kept in a different
     syntax.  In mail you send, personal aliases will be expanded in mail sent to others so that
     they will be able to reply to the recipients.  System wide aliases are not expanded when the
     mail is sent, but any reply returned to the machine will have the system wide alias expanded
     as all mail goes through sendmail(1).

   Network mail (ARPA, UUCP, Berknet)
     See mailaddr(7) for a description of network addresses.

     mail has a number of options which can be set in the .mailrc file to alter its behavior;
     thus ``set askcc'' enables the askcc feature.  (These options are summarized below.)

     (Adapted from the ``Mail Reference Manual'')

     Each command is typed on a line by itself, and may take arguments following the command
     word.  The command need not be typed in its entirety - the first command which matches the
     typed prefix is used.  For commands which take message lists as arguments, if no message
     list is given, then the next message forward which satisfies the command's requirements is
     used.  If there are no messages forward of the current message, the search proceeds back-
     wards, and if there are no good messages at all, mail types ``No applicable messages'' and
     aborts the command.

     !	     Executes the shell (see sh(1) and csh(1)) command which follows.

     -	     Print out the preceding message.  If given a numeric argument n, goes to the n'th
	     previous message and prints it.

     =	     With no argument, it displays the current message number.	Otherwise, set the cur-
	     rent message number to its first argument.

     ?	     Prints a brief summary of commands.

     |	     Pipe the current message body through the shell (see sh(1) and csh(1)) command which

     Detach  Like detach but also saves MIME parts that don't have a filename associated with
	     them.  For the unnamed parts, a filename is suggested containing the message and
	     part numbers, and the subtype.

     Header  (H) Specify or show additional header fields.  This is intended for adding extra
	     header fields like ``Reply-To:'' or ``X-Organization:'' to the header.  For example:

	       Header X-Mailer: NetBSD mail(1) 9.1

	     would add the ``X-Mailer: NetBSD mail(1) 9.1'' line to the message header.  Without
	     any arguments, the extra header fields are displayed.  With only a header name
	     (including the ':'), it will delete all extra header fields with that name.  Note:
	     Although some syntax checking is done on the header line, care should be taken to
	     ensure that it complies with RFC 2821 and 2822.  Also, the extra header lines are
	     not currently displayed by the ~h tilde command when sending mail (use ~:Header to
	     see them).

     More    (M) Like more but also prints out ignored header fields.

     Page    (Pa) A synonym for More.

     Print   (P) Like print but also prints out ignored header fields.	See also print, more,
	     page, type, view, ignore, and retain.

     Reply   (R) Reply to originator.  Does not reply to other recipients of the original mes-
	     sage.  (See reply.)

     Save    (S) Same as save except that all header fields are saved ignoring the saveignore or
	     saveretain lists.

     Type    (T) Identical to the Print command.

     View    (V) Like Print but has the opposite MIME decoding behavior.  (See the
	     mime-decode-message variable.)

     alias   (a) With no arguments, prints out all currently-defined aliases.  With one argument,
	     prints out that alias.  With more than one argument, creates a new alias or changes
	     an old one.

	     (alt) The alternates command is useful if you have accounts on several machines.  It
	     can be used to inform mail that the listed addresses are really you.  When you reply
	     to messages, mail will not send a copy of the message to any of the addresses listed
	     on the alternates list.  If the alternates command is given with no argument, the
	     current set of alternative names is displayed.

     bounce  Takes a list of messages and prompts for an address to bounce the messages to.  If
	     no message is specified, the current message is used.  All the original header
	     fields are preserved except for the 'Delivered-To', 'X-Original-To' and 'Status'
	     fields.  The new 'To' field contains the bounce address(es) plus any addresses in
	     the old 'To' field minus the user's local address and any on the alternates list.
	     (See the alternates command.)

     chdir   (c) Changes the user's working directory to that specified, if given.  If no direc-
	     tory is given, then changes to the user's login directory.

     copy    (co) The copy command does the same thing that save does, except that it does not
	     mark the messages it is used on for deletion when you quit.

	     Delete duplicate messages based on their 'Message-Id' field, keeping the first one
	     in the current sort order.  This can be useful with replies to a mailing list that
	     are also CCed to a subscriber.  (The same thing can also be accomplished with the
	     threading and tagging commands.)

     delete  (d) Takes a list of messages as an argument and marks them all as deleted.  Deleted
	     messages will not be saved in mbox, nor will they be available for most other com-

     detach  Takes a message list followed by a target directory as arguments, decodes each MIME
	     part in the message list, and saves it in the target directory.  If the message list
	     is empty, use the current message.  If the directory is not specified, use the
	     directory specified by mime-detach-dir variable and, if that is empty, default to
	     the directory mail was started in.  For each MIME part in the message list, the
	     filename is displayed for confirmation or changes.  If an empty name is entered, the
	     part is skipped.  If the filename already exists, the user will be prompted before
	     overwriting it.  (See the mime-detach-batch and mime-detach-overwrite variables to
	     change this behavior.)  Only MIME parts with an associated filename in the
	     'Content-Type' or 'Content-Disposition' fields are decoded.  (See Detach to detach
	     all parts.)  The MIME extension hooks and character set conversion are ignored.

     dp      (also dt) Deletes the current message and prints the next message.  If there is no
	     next message, mail says ``at EOF''.

     down    Go down one level in the thread.  If given a message number, it descends the thread
	     below that message, otherwise it descends from the current message (dot).

     edit    (e) Takes a list of messages and points the text editor at each one in turn.  On
	     return from the editor, the message is read back in.

     else    Switch the command execution condition set by the previous if, ifdef, or ifndef com-

     endif   Terminate an if, ifdef, or ifndef command.

     exit    (ex or x) Effects an immediate return to the Shell without modifying the user's sys-
	     tem mailbox, his mbox file, or his edit file in -f.

     expose  Expose the thread structure so all messages appear in header listings.  (See hide
	     for the inverse.)	The default header prompt will indent each header line one space
	     for each level in the threading.  The ``%?* ?'' format string does this.

     file    (fi) The same as folder.

	     For each message number in the argument list, or the current thread if no message
	     list is given, promote all exposed children to the same thread level.

	     List the names of the folders in your folder directory.

     folder  (fo) The folder command switches to a new mail file or folder.  With no arguments,
	     it tells you which file you are currently reading.  If you give it an argument, it
	     will write out changes (such as deletions) you have made in the current file and
	     read in the new file.  Some special conventions are recognized for the name.  '#'
	     means the previous file, '%' means your system mailbox, '%user' means user's system
	     mailbox, '&' means your mbox file, and '+file' means a file in your folder direc-

	     Takes a list of messages and prompts for an address (or addresses) to forward each
	     message to.  If no message list is specified, the current message is used.  The mail
	     editor is run for each message allowing the user to enter a message that will pre-
	     cede the forward message.	The message is sent as a multipart/mixed MIME encoded
	     message.  All header fields except the 'Status' field are included.

     from    (f) Takes a list of messages and prints their message headers.

	     (h) Lists the current range of headers, which is an 18-message group.  If a '+'
	     argument is given, then the next 18-message group is printed, and if a '-' argument
	     is given, the previous 18-message group is printed.

     help    A synonym for ?

     hide    Collapse the threads so that only the head of each thread is shown, hiding the sub-
	     threads.  (See expose for the inverse.)

	     Restrict the display to untagged messages.  In threaded mode, subthreads that con-
	     nect directly to an untagged message are also displayed, including tagged messages
	     in the connecting chain.

	     The same as hide.

     hold    (ho, also preserve) Takes a message list and marks each message therein to be saved
	     in the user's system mailbox instead of in mbox.  Does not override the delete com-

     if      Execute commands that follow depending on the operating mode.  The current supported
	     modes are 'receiving', 'sending', and 'headersonly'.  For example, one use might be
	     something like:

	     if headersonly
	       set header-format="%P%Q%3i %-21.20f %m/%d %R %3K \"%q\""
	       set header-format="%P%Q%?& ?%3i %-21.20f %a %b %e %R %3K/%-5O \"%q\""

     ifdef   Execute commands that follow if the specified variable is defined.  Note: This
	     includes environment variables.

     ifndef  Execute commands that follow if the specified variable is not defined.

     ignore  Add the list of header fields named to the ignored list.  Header fields in the
	     ignore list are not printed on your terminal when you print a message.  This command
	     is very handy for suppression of certain machine-generated header fields.	The Type
	     and Print commands can be used to print a message in its entirety, including ignored
	     fields.  If ignore is executed with no arguments, it lists the current set of
	     ignored fields.

     inc     Incorporate any new messages that have arrived while mail is being read.  The new
	     messages are added to the end of the message list, and the current message is reset
	     to be the first new mail message.	This does not renumber the existing message list,
	     nor does it cause any changes made so far to be saved.

	     Invert the tags on a list of messages or the current message if none are given.
	     Note: this will not affect any currently deleted messages.

     mail    (m) Takes as argument login names and distribution group names and sends mail to
	     those people.

     mbox    Indicate that a list of messages be sent to mbox in your home directory when you
	     quit.  This is the default action for messages if you do not have the hold option

     mkread  (mk) Takes a message list and marks each message as having been read.

     more    (mo) Takes a message list and invokes the pager on that list.

     next    (n, like + or CR) Goes to the next message in sequence and types it.  With an argu-
	     ment list, types the next matching message.

     page    (pa) A synonym for more.

	     (pre) A synonym for hold.

     print   (p) Takes a message list and types out each message on the user's terminal.

     quit    (q) Terminates the session, saving all undeleted, unsaved messages in the user's
	     mbox file in his login directory, preserving all messages marked with hold or
	     preserve or never referenced in his system mailbox, and removing all other messages
	     from his system mailbox.  If new mail has arrived during the session, the message
	     ``You have new mail'' is given.  If given while editing a mailbox file with the -f
	     flag, then the edit file is rewritten.  A return to the Shell is effected, unless
	     the rewrite of edit file fails, in which case the user can escape with the exit com-

     reply   (r) Takes a message list and sends mail to the sender and all recipients of the
	     specified message.  The default message must not be deleted.  (See the Reply command
	     and the Replyall variable.)

	     A synonym for reply.

     retain  Add the list of header fields named to the retained list.	Only the header fields in
	     the retained list are shown on your terminal when you print a message.  All other
	     header fields are suppressed.  The Type and Print commands can be used to print a
	     message in its entirety.  If retain is executed with no arguments, it lists the cur-
	     rent set of retained fields.  Retain overrides save.

	     Reverse the order of the messages in at the current thread level.	This is com-
	     pletely equivalent to ``sort !''.

     save    (s) Takes a message list and a filename and appends each message in turn to the end
	     of the file.  The filename in quotes, followed by the line count and character count
	     is echoed on the user's terminal.

     set     (se) With no arguments, prints all variable values.  Otherwise, sets option.  Argu-
	     ments are of the form option=value (no space before or after =) or option.  Quota-
	     tion marks may be placed around any part of the assignment statement to quote blanks
	     or tabs, i.e.  ``set indentprefix="->"'' Inside single quotes everything is parsed
	     literally, including '\' escaped characters.  Inside double quotes '\' character
	     escapes are interpreted.  This is an extension as POSIX specifies that '\' should be
	     left uninterpreted for both single and double quoted strings.

	     Saveignore is to save what ignore is to print and type.  Header fields thus marked
	     are filtered out when saving a message by save or when automatically saving to mbox.

	     Saveretain is to save what retain is to print and type.  Header fields thus marked
	     are the only ones saved with a message when saving by save or when automatically
	     saving to mbox.  Saveretain overrides saveignore.

     shell   (sh) Invokes an interactive version of the shell.

     show    (sho) Takes a list of variables and prints out their values in the form
	     option=value.  If the list is empty, all variable values are shown.

	     Display all current messages, tagged or not, unless they are in a hidden thread.

	     The same as expose.

     size    Takes a message list and prints out the size in characters of each message.

     smopts  Takes an ``address-spec'' followed by the sendmail flags that should be used when
	     sending mail to an address that matches that ``address-spec''.  If no sendmail flags
	     are specified, then list the sendmail flags in effect for the ``address-spec''.  If
	     the ``address-spec'' is also omitted, then list all smopts settings.  The
	     ``address-spec'' may be an alias, address, domain (beginning with a '@'), or subdo-
	     main (beginning with a '.').  If mail is sent to multiple users, the sendmail flags
	     are used only if the flags are the same for each recipients.  If smopts-verify is
	     set, then you will be asked to verify the sendmail flags (if there are any) before
	     the mail is sent.	Address matching is case insensitive and done from most specific
	     to least.

	     For example if you have:

		   smopts mylist -F "List Maintainer"
		   smopts @NetBSD.org -f anon@somewhere.net -F "Anon Ymous"
		   smopts friend@NetBSD.org ""

	     then mail sent to any of the addresses that the 'mylist' alias expands to would have
	     the sender's name set to 'List Maintainer'.  Mail sent to anyone at NetBSD.org other
	     than 'friend@NetBSD.org' would look like it was sent from 'anon@somewhere.net' by
	     'Anon Ymous'.  Mail sent to 'friend@NetBSD.org' would not have any sendmail flags
	     set (unless they are set by the ~h escape).

     sort    With no argument, sort does nothing.  Otherwise it will sort based on the header
	     field name given as an argument.  A few names are special:

		   blines	   sort based on the number of body lines.
		   hlines	   sort on the number of header lines.
		   tlines	   sort on the total number of lines.
		   size 	   sort on the message size
		   sday 	   sent day (ignores the hour/min/sec)
		   rday 	   received day (ignores the hour/min/sec)
		   sdate	   sent date
		   rdate	   received date
		   subject	   sort on the subject, ignoring "Re:" prefixes.
		   from 	   sort on the sender's address.

	     The check for these special names is case sensitive while the header field name com-
	     parisons are case insensitive, so changing the case on any of these special names
	     will sort based on the header field ignoring the special keyword.

	     There are also three modifiers which may precede the argument:

		   !	   reverse the sorting order.
		   ^	   case insensitive sorting.
		   -	   skin the field (removing RFC 822 comments and
			   keep the address).

	     The same keywords and modifiers also apply to threading.  (See the thread command.)

	     Note: sort has no effect on the threading, sorting only on the heads of the threads
	     if threads exist.

     source  The source command reads commands from a file.

     tag     Tag a list of messages or the current message if none are given.  In hidden thread
	     mode, the entire thread will be tagged, i.e., tag is recursive

	     Tag all messages of the current thread below the level of the current message (dot)
	     or the supplied message number if given.

     thread  By default this threads the current message list based on the 'In-Reply-To' and
	     'References' header fields (intended for this purpose by RFC 2822).  If given an
	     argument, it will thread on that header field name instead.  The same field keywords
	     and modifiers recognized by the sort command are also recognized here.  Display of
	     the threads is controlled by the hide and expose commands; navigation of threads is
	     done with the down, up, and tset commands.

	     If recursive-commands is defined, many commands (e.g., print) act on the entire
	     thread (when it is hidden), otherwise they act on just the current message.

	     Note: the 'In-Reply-To' and 'Reference' header fields are necessary to do threading
	     correctly.  This version of mail now emits these header fields when replying.

     top     Takes a message list and prints the top few lines of each.  The number of lines
	     printed is controlled by the variable toplines and defaults to five.

     tset    Set the current thread (thread set) so that the supplied message number (or the cur-
	     rent message if no argument is given) is at the top level of the current thread.

     type    (t) A synonym for print.

	     Takes a list of names defined by alias commands and discards the remembered groups
	     of users.	The group names no longer have any significance.

	     (u) Takes a message list and marks each message as not being deleted.

     unread  (unr) Takes a message list and marks each message as not having been read.

     unset   Takes a list of option names and discards their remembered values; the inverse of

	     Takes a list of ``address-specs'' defined by smopts commands and discards them from
	     the smopts database.

     untag   Untag a list of messages or the current message if none are given.  Like the tag
	     command, untag is recursive on hidden threads.

	     Undo all threading and sorting, restoring the original display order, i.e., the
	     order in the mail file.

     up      Go up one level in the thread.  This also takes an optional (positive) argument to
	     go up multiple levels in the thread.

     view    (vie) Like print but has the opposite MIME decoding behavior.  (See the
	     mime-decode-message variable.)

     visual  (v) Takes a message list and invokes the display editor on each message.

     write   (w) Similar to save, except that only the message body (without the header) is
	     saved.  Extremely useful for such tasks as sending and receiving source program text
	     over the message system.

     xit     (x) A synonym for exit.

     z	     mail presents message headers in windowfuls as described under the headers command.
	     You can move mail's attention forward to the next window with the z command.  Also,
	     you can move to the previous window by using z-.

     Here is a summary of the tilde escapes, which are used when composing messages to perform
     special functions.  Tilde escapes are only recognized at the beginning of lines.  The name
     ``tilde escape'' is somewhat of a misnomer since the actual escape character can be set by
     the option escape.

	     Execute the indicated shell command, then return to the message.

     ~@ [filelist]
	     Add the files in the white-space delimited filelist to the attachment list.  If
	     filelist is omitted, edit the attachment list, possibly appending to it: For each
	     file in the list the user is prompted to change its attachment data.  Changing the
	     filename to empty will delete it from the list.  Upon reaching the end of the
	     attachment list, the user is prompted for additional files to attach until an empty
	     filename is given.  Filenames containing white-space can only be added in this
	     ``edit'' mode.

     ~a      Inserts the autograph string from the sign= option into the message.

     ~A      Inserts the autograph string from the Sign= option into the message.

     ~bname ...
	     Add the given names to the list of carbon copy recipients but do not make the names
	     visible in the Cc: line (``blind'' carbon copy).

     ~cname ...
	     Add the given names to the list of carbon copy recipients.

     ~d      Read the file ``dead.letter'' from your home directory into the message.

     ~e      Invoke the text editor on the message collected so far.  After the editing session
	     is finished, you may continue appending text to the message.

	     Read the named messages into the message being sent.  If no messages are specified,
	     read in the current message.  Message headers currently being ignored (by the ignore
	     or retain command) are not included.

     ~	     Identical to ~f, except all message headers are included.

     ~h      Edit the message header fields, and the options passed to sendmail (the Smopts), by
	     typing each one in turn and allowing the user to append text to the end or modify
	     the field by using the current terminal erase and kill characters.  If editline(3)
	     support is included, then that line editor is used.

	     Inserts the value of the named option into the text of the message.

	     Read the named messages into the message being sent, indented by a tab or by the
	     value of indentprefix.  If no messages are specified, read the current message.
	     Message headers currently being ignored (by the ignore or retain command) are not

	     Identical to ~m, except all message headers are included.

     ~p      Print out the message collected so far, prefaced by the message header fields.

     ~q      Abort the message being sent, copying the message to ``dead.letter'' in your home
	     directory if save is set.

     ~x      Exits as with ~q, except the message is not saved in ``dead.letter''.


	     Reads the named file into the message.  If the argument begins with '!', the rest of
	     the string is taken as an arbitrary system command and is executed, with the stan-
	     dard output inserted into the message.

	     Cause the named string to become the current subject field.

     ~tname ...
	     Add the given names to the direct recipient list.

     ~v      Invoke an alternative editor (defined by the VISUAL option) on the message collected
	     so far.  Usually, the alternative editor will be a screen editor.	After you quit
	     the editor, you may resume appending text to the end of your message.

	     Write the message onto the named file.

	     Pipe the message body through the command as a filter.  If the command gives no out-
	     put or terminates abnormally, retain the original text of the message.  The command
	     fmt(1) is often used as command to rejustify the message.

	     Execute the given mail command.  Not all commands, however, are allowed.

	     Insert the string of text in the message prefaced by a single ~.  If you have
	     changed the escape character, then you should double that character in order to send

   Mail Options
     Options are controlled via set and unset commands.  Options may be either binary, in which
     case it is only significant to see whether they are set or not; or string, in which case the
     actual value is of interest.  The binary options include the following:

     append  Causes messages saved in mbox to be appended to the end rather than prepended.  This
	     should always be set (perhaps in /etc/mail.rc).

     ask, asksub
	     Causes mail to prompt you for the subject of each message you send.  If you respond
	     with simply a newline, no subject field will be sent.

     askcc   Causes you to be prompted for additional carbon copy recipients at the end of each
	     message.  Responding with a newline indicates your satisfaction with the current

	     Causes new mail to be automatically incorporated when it arrives.	Setting this is
	     similar to issuing the inc command at each prompt, except that the current message
	     is not reset when new mail arrives.

     askbcc  Causes you to be prompted for additional blind carbon copy recipients at the end of
	     each message.  Responding with a newline indicates your satisfaction with the cur-
	     rent list.

	     Causes the delete command to behave like dp - thus, after deleting a message, the
	     next one will be typed automatically.

     crt     If crt is set, then the PAGER will be used for the print, Print, type, and Type com-
	     mands.  Normally these commands do not invoke the pager.  (See page-also.)

     debug   Setting the binary option debug is the same as specifying -d on the command line and
	     causes mail to output all sorts of information useful for debugging mail.

     dot     The binary option dot causes mail to interpret a period alone on a line as the ter-
	     minator of a message you are sending.

	     If defined, the output of most commands can be piped into a shell command or redi-
	     rected to a file.	The pipe/redirection is signaled by the first occurrence of a '|'
	     or '>' character that is not in a quoted string or in a parenthetical group.  This
	     character terminates the mail command line and the remaining string is passed to the
	     shell.  For example, assuming normal headers, something like

		     from john@ | fgrep -i ' "Re:' | wc

	     could be used to count how may replies were made by senders with 'john@' in their
	     address and

		     from john@ >> /tmp/john

	     would append all the headers from such senders to /tmp/john.

	     Note: With piping enabled, you cannot use the '|' as a logical ``or'' operator out-
	     side of a parenthetical group.  This should not be a problem as it is the default
	     logical operator.	(See the Specifying messages section.)

     hold    This option is used to hold messages in the system mailbox by default.

     ignore  Causes interrupt signals from your terminal to be ignored and echoed as @'s.

     metoo   Usually, when a group is expanded that contains the sender, the sender is removed
	     from the expansion.  Setting this option causes the sender to be included in the

	     If set, the command line flag -a will accept a whitespace delimited list of files.
	     Otherwise, its argument is interpreted as a single filename.  Warning: If enabled,
	     care must be taken to properly quote files that contain whitespace, both from the
	     shell and from this second expansion done by mail.

	     If set, decode the headers along with the body when mime-decode-message is set.  The
	     header decode follows the same rules as the body (see mime-decode-message).

	     When inserting a message into the mail buffer (~f or ~F), the text inserted will be
	     decoded according to the settings of the mime-decode-message and mime-decode-header

	     If set, the More, more, Page, page, Print, print, Type, and type commands will dis-
	     play decoded the MIME messages.  Otherwise, they display the undecoded message.
	     Recall that the View and view commands always have the opposite MIME decoding behav-
	     ior from these commands.

	     When quoting a message into the mail buffer (~m or ~M), the text inserted will be
	     decoded according to the settings of the mime-decode-message and mime-decode-header

	     If set, the detach command does not prompt for anything (unless
	     mime-detach-overwrite is set to 'ask'), overwriting target files depending on the
	     setting of mime-detach-overwrite.

	     Setting the option noheader is the same as giving the -N flag on the command line.

     nosave  Normally, when you abort a message with two RUBOUT (erase or delete) mail copies the
	     partial letter to the file ``dead.letter'' in your home directory.  Setting the
	     binary option nosave prevents this.

	     A comma or whitespace delimited list of additional commands to page.  The compar-
	     isons are case insensitive, so if view is in the list, both view and View will page.

	     If set, disable the pager on all commands.

     quiet   Suppresses the printing of the version when first invoked.

	     When defined, and threading is in effect, the following commands operate on the
	     entire thread (if it is ``hidden'') rather than just the top displayed message of
	     the thread:

		   More Page Print Type View more page print type view
		   Save copy save write
		   Detach detach
		   delete dp dt
		   hold preserve
		   mbox mkread touch unread
		   tag untag invtags

	     If not defined, or if the threads are ``exposed'', commands behave exactly as they
	     do in non-threaded mode, i.e., each operates on individual messages.

	     Reverses the sense of reply and Reply commands.

	     If this option is set, then a message-list specifier in the form ``/x:y'' will
	     expand to all messages containing the substring ``y'' in the header field ``x''.
	     The string search is case insensitive.  If ``x'' is omitted, it will default to the
	     'Subject' header field.  If ``y'' is omitted, only those messages that contain the
	     field ``x'' will be matched.  The three forms ``/from:y'', ``/to:y'', and
	     ``/body:y'' are special.  The first will match all messages which contain the sub-
	     string ``y'' in the headline (which is added locally at receipt time and begins with
	     ``From '').  The second will match all messages containing the substring ``y'' in
	     the 'To', 'Cc', or 'Bcc' header fields.  The third will match all messages which
	     contain the substring ``y'' in a line of the message body.  The check for ``from'',
	     ``to'', and ``body'' is case sensitive, so that ``/From:y'' and ``/To:y'' can be
	     used to search the 'From' and 'To' fields, respectively.  (See also regex-search.)

	     Verify the sendmail options used on outgoing mail if they were obtained from a
	     smopts match.  This has no effect if there are no sendmail flags or if the flags
	     were set by the ~h escape.

	     Setting the option verbose is the same as using the -v flag on the command line.
	     When mail runs in verbose mode, the actual delivery of messages is displayed on the
	     user's terminal.

   Option String Values
     EDITOR	   Pathname of the text editor to use in the edit command and ~e escape.  If not
		   defined, then a default editor is used.

     LISTER	   Pathname of the directory lister to use in the folders command.  Default is

     PAGER	   Pathname of the program to use in the more command or when crt variable is
		   set.  The default paginator more(1) is used if this option is not defined.

     SHELL	   Pathname of the shell to use in the ! command and the ~! escape.  A default
		   shell is used if this option is not defined.

     VISUAL	   Pathname of the text editor to use in the visual command and ~v escape.

		   A comma or space delimited list of keys to do editline(3) completion.  For
		   example set el-completion-keys=^I,^D will bind completion to both the tab and
		   CTRL-D keys.  (Requires editline(3) support.)

     el-editor	   The line editing mode: must be 'emacs' or 'vi'.  If unset, editing is not
		   enabled.  (Requires editline(3) support.)

		   The number of lines of history to remember.	If unset, history is not enable.
		   (Requires editline(3) support.)

     escape	   If defined, the first character of this option gives the character to use in
		   the place of ~ to denote escapes.

     folder	   The name of the directory to use for storing folders of messages.  If this
		   name begins with a '/', mail considers it to be an absolute pathname; other-
		   wise, the folder directory is found relative to your home directory.

		   If set, use this format string when displaying headers in command mode.  The
		   format string supports the following conversions in addition to those of

		   %?key?  The header field with name 'key'.  Note: if key[0] is '-', ignore the
			   '-' and extract the address portion of the field (i.e., ``skin'' the
			   If the depth is n, substitute 'string' n times.  This is intended to
			   be used when displaying an ``exposed thread''.
			   Like %?*string?, but uses the depth relative to the current depth
			   rather than the absolute depth.
		   %J	   The number of header lines in the message.
		   %K	   The number of body lines in the message.
		   %L	   The total number of lines in the message.
		   %N	   The sender's full name (as in the 'From' or 'Sender' fields).
		   %O	   The message size.
		   %P	   The current ``dot'' ('>') message.
		   %Q	   The message status flag.
		   %Z	   The time zone name (if it exists).
		   %f	   The email address of sender.
		   %i	   The message number.
		   %n	   The sender's login name (taken from the address).
		   %q	   The subject.
		   %t	   The total number of messages.
		   %z	   The GMT offset (if found).

		   If the format string begins with '%??' then the date will be extracted from
		   the headline.  Otherwise it will be extracted from the 'Date' header falling
		   back to the headline if that extraction fails.  For example, the default for-
		   mat is:

		   set header-format="%??%P%Q%?* ?%3i %-21.20f %a %b %e %R %3K/%-5O \"%q\""

		   Note 1: The message status flag '%Q' will display the single character '+' for
		   the parent of a subthread.  This will be overwritten by a 'T', 'E', '*', 'P',
		   'U', 'N', 'M' indicating, respectively, a tagged, modified, saved, preserved,
		   unread, new, or modified message, in that order with the last matching condi-
		   tion being the one displayed.  In the case of hidden threads, the entire sub-
		   thread is searched and the letters above will be displayed in lower case if
		   the property is that of a hidden child with the case '*' being displayed as

		   Note 2: %n and %t as used by strftime(3) were redundant with \t and \n,
		   respectively, so nothing is lost using them here.

     ignoreeof	   An option related to dot is ignoreeof which makes mail refuse to accept a
		   'control-D' as the end of a message.  If given a numeric argument n, a
		   'control-D' will be accepted after n tries.	Ignoreeof also applies to mail
		   command mode.

		   If set, this format string will be inserted before quoting a message (~m or
		   ~M).  The format syntax is the same as for header-format.  For example, the

		   set indentpreamble=
		     "On %b %e %T, %Y %z (%Z), %n (%.50N) wrote:\n-- Subject: %.65q\n"

		   would insert something like

		   On Oct 27 11:00:07, 2006 -0400 (EDT), anon (Anon Ymous) wrote:
		   -- Subject: suggestions for mail(1)

		   before the quoted message.

     indentprefix  String used by the ~m and ~M tilde escapes for indenting messages, in place of
		   the normal tab character ('^I').  Be sure to quote the value if it contains
		   spaces or tabs.

		   If set, this format string will be inserted after quoting a message (~m or
		   ~M).  The format syntax is the same as for header-format.  For example, the

		   set indentpostscript="-- End of excerpt from %.50N"

		   would insert something like

		   -- End of excerpt from Anon Ymous

		   after the quoted message.

		   MIME-hook for the body of a MIME block of 'Content-Type: TYPE/SUBTYPE'.  (See
		   MIME Enhancements below.)

     mime-charset  Convert 'Content-type: text' messages to this character set or 'us-ascii' if
		   the value is empty.	If unset, no character set conversion is done.

		   The directory to detach files to if the detach command is given no arguments.
		   (See detach.)

		   This controls overwriting of existing files by the detach command.  If set to
		   'ask' the user will be prompted before overwriting a file.  If set to 'yes',
		   or to the empty string, existing target files will be overwritten.  If set to
		   'no', no target files will be overwritten.

		   If set, encode the body of the message as required.	Typically, this is just
		   an issue of whether 'quoted-printable' encoding is used or not.  If it has a
		   value, then use it to determine the encoding type.  Allowed values are '7bit',
		   '8bit', 'binary', 'quoted-printable', or 'base64'.

		   MIME-hook for the header of a MIME block of 'Content-Type: TYPE/SUBTYPE'.
		   (See MIME Enhancements below.)

		   MIME-hook for MIME block of 'Content-Type: TYPE/SUBTYPE'.  (See MIME
		   Enhancements below.)

     MBOX	   The name of the mbox file.  It can be the name of a folder.	The default is
		   ``mbox'' in the user's home directory.

     prompt	   If defined, it specifies the prompt to use when in command mode.  Otherwise,
		   the default '&' is used.  The format syntax is the same as for header-format.

     record	   If defined, gives the pathname of the file used to record all outgoing mail.
		   If not defined, then outgoing mail is not so saved.

     regex-search  If set, regular expression searches are used, instead of simple case insensi-
		   tive substring matches, when determining message lists by searching sender
		   names, subjects, or header fields (if searchheaders is defined); see the
		   Specifying messages section.  The value of the variable is a space or comma
		   delimited list of options.  Valid options are 'icase' to do case insensitive
		   searches, 'extended' to use extended (rather than basic) regular expressions,
		   and 'nospec' to turn off all special character meanings and do literal string
		   searches.  Note that 'extended' and 'nospec' are not compatible (see

		   This is used when replying to email (see the reply or Reply commands).  It is
		   useful if you have multiple email addresses and wish to ensure that replies
		   respect them.  If set, grab the email address(es) from the 'To' field of the
		   message being replied to.  If there is only one such address, and if it does
		   not match any address in the value of ReplyAsRecipient (a comma or space
		   delimited list of addresses, possibly empty), then use this address in the
		   'From' field of the reply.  This is accomplished by passing the address to
		   sendmail(1) with the -f option.  Note: the sendmail options can be edited with
		   the ~h escape.  (See also the smopts command.)

     toplines	   If defined, gives the number of lines of a message to be printed out with the
		   top command; normally, the first five lines are printed.

   MIME Enhancements
     A MIME message is (recursively) divided into a series of MIME parts that can be thought of
     as sub-messages, each with a header and body.  When MIME support is enabled (by setting
     mime-decode-message), mail splits a message into a series of its smallest MIME parts and
     processes those parts as if they were messages themselves, passing the header and body
     through a pipeline of the form:

	   mail -> MIME-decoder -> MIME-hook -> pager -> screen

     The MIME-decoder decodes 'base64' or 'quoted-printable' encoding and is enabled according to
     the 'Content-Transfer-Encoding' of the part.  The MIME-hook is an external program to fur-
     ther process the part (see below).  The pager is the program that pages the message (see
     PAGER).  Any of these intermediate pipe stages may be missing and/or different for the head
     and body of each MIME part.  Certain 'Content-Types' may disable the entire pipeline (e.g.,

     The MIME-hook stage is not present unless one of the following variables is set:

	   mime-hook-TYPE-SUBTYPE    applies to the entire MIME part
	   mime-head-TYPE-SUBTYPE    applies to the header of the MIME part
	   mime-body-TYPE-SUBTYPE    applies to the body of the MIME part

     where TYPE and SUBTYPE are the 'Content-Type' type and subtype (respectively) of the MIME
     part to which the hook applies.  If the ``-SUBTYPE'' is missing, any subtype is matched.
     The value of these variables has the format:

	   [flags] command

     where the command is expected to read from stdin and write to stdout, and the possible flags

	   !	   Execute command in a sub-shell rather than doing an exec(3) (see SHELL).

	   +	   Use this hook when selecting the part to display in a 'multipart/alternative'
		   block.  Multipart blocks contain ``alternative'' versions with the same infor-
		   mation, in increasing order of preference (and decoding complexity).  The last
		   one the mail agent understands is the one to be displayed.  This is typically
		   used for sending a message in both ``plain text'' and ``html'', but more com-
		   plex subtypes are also possible.

	   -	   Do not decode before executing command.

     If your command begins with one of these flags, precede it with a space to signal the end of
     the flags.

     WARNING: automatically running a program is a potential security risk if that program has
     bugs, so be careful what you run.

     Examples: View all 'Content-Type: image/jpeg' parts with xv(1) (assuming it is installed):

	   set mime-body-image-jpeg="/usr/pkg/bin/xv -"

     Decode all 'Content-Type: images/*' blocks with uudeview(1) (assuming it is installed),
     placing the results in /tmp:

	   set mime-hook-image="-/usr/pkg/bin/uudeview -p /tmp -i -a +o -q -"

     Read all 'Content-Type: text/html' parts using lynx(1) (assuming it is installed) and add
     this support to 'multipart/alternative' blocks:

	   set mime-body-text-html="+/usr/pkg/bin/lynx -force_html -dump -stdin"

     mail uses the HOME, TMPDIR, and USER environment variables.

     /var/mail/*		 Post office.
     ~/mbox			 User's old mail.
     ~/.mailrc			 File giving initial mail commands.  This can be overridden by
				 setting the MAILRC environment variable.
     /tmp/mail.R*		 Temporary files.
     /usr/share/misc/mail.*help  Help files.
     /etc/mail.rc		 System initialization file.

     fmt(1), newaliases(1), sendmail(1), vacation(1), aliases(5), mailaddr(7) and

     The Mail Reference Manual.

     A mail command appeared in Version 6 AT&T UNIX.  This man page is derived from ``The Mail
     Reference Manual'' originally written by Kurt Shoens.

     There are some flags and commands that are not documented here.  Most are not useful to the
     general user.

     Usually, mail is just a link to Mail, which can be confusing.

     The name of the alternates list is incorrect English (it should be ``alternatives''), but is
     retained for compatibility.

     There must be sufficient space on $TMPDIR for various temporary files.

     If an unrecoverable character set conversion error occurs (during display), the message is
     truncated and a warning is printed.  This seems to be rare, but probably the remainder of
     the message should be printed without conversion.

     The internal sh-like parser is not terribly sh-like.

     Selecting messages by their content (i.e., with '/body:') is rather slow.

BSD					February 18, 2009				      BSD

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