mail(1) General Commands Manual mail(1)
mail, binmail - Sends and displays messages
mail [-epq] [-bhr] [-f file]
binmail [-epq] [-bhr] [-f file]
mail [-d] [-r name] [-h N] user... [< file]
binmail [-d] [-r name] [-h N] user... [< file]
Interfaces documented on this reference page conform to industry standards as follows:
Refer to the standards(5) reference page for more information about industry standards and associated tags.
You can use the following options when invoking the mail command to read mail: Does not display any messages. This option causes mail to
return an exit value of 0 (zero) if the user has mail and an exit value of 1 if the user has no mail. Saves mail to and reads mail from
file instead of the default mail file, /usr/spool/mail/user. Displays mail without prompting for a disposition code. This option does not
delete, copy, or forward any messages. Causes mail to exit when you press the Interrupt key sequence. Normally, pressing the Interrupt key
sequence stops only the message being displayed. (In this case, the next message sometimes does not display until you enter the p subcom-
mand.) Displays mail in first-in, first-out order. The default is last-in, first-out. Alternate and obsolete form of the -b option.
If -r is the first option specified and more arguments follow, send mail mode is assumed. Alternate and obsolete form of the -b
If -h is the first option specified and more arguments follow, send mail mode is assumed.
You can use the following options when invoking the mail command to send mail: Sets the hop count to N. The hop count is incremented every
time the mail is processed. When it reaches a limit, the mail is returned with an error message, the victim of an aliasing loop. If you
do not specify this option, received lines in the message are counted. Sets the name of the From: user field (that is, the sender of the
mail). The -r option can only be used by trusted users (normally root, daemon, and network) or if the person you are trying to become is
the same as the person you are. Informs binmail to actually deliver the mail instead of passing it off to the sendmail program for deliv-
The mail command writes to standard output all stored mail addressed to your login name, one message at a time, or sends a mail message to
another user or users. Another name for the mail command is binmail.
Following each message, mail prompts you with a ? question mark. Press <Return> to display the current mail message, or enter one of the
subcommands that control the disposition of the message.
When sending mail, you specify users, and then mail reads a message from standard input until you press the End-of-File key sequence or
enter a line containing only a . (dot). It prefixes this message with the sender's name and the date and time of the message (its postmark)
and adds this message to the file /usr/spool/mail/user for each user specified on the command line.
Usually, user is a name recognized by the login command. If the system does not recognize one or more of the specified users or if mail is
interrupted during input, mail saves messages in the file $HOME/dead.letter to allow for editing and resending.
The action of mail can be modified in two ways by manipulating /usr/spool/mail/user: The default permission assignment for other users is
read-only. If you change this permission assignment to read/write or to All Permissions Denied, the system preserves the file, even when
it is empty, in order to maintain the desired permissions; you will not be able to remove the file. You can edit the file to contain the
following as its first line:
Forward to person
This causes all messages sent to user to be sent to person instead. The Forward to feature is especially useful for sending all of a
person's mail to a particular machine in a network environment.
To specify a recipient on a remote system, prefix the system name and an ! (exclamation mark) to user. See the uucp command for a
detailed discussion of how to address remote systems. Also see mailx and sendmail for other network connections.
Tru64 UNIX provides locking for the mailbox files. The style of locking used depends on how it is set in the rc.config.common file. For
more information, see the Network Administration manual.
The following subcommands control message disposition. Displays the next mail message. Displays the previous message. Deletes the cur-
rent message and displays the next message. Displays the current message again. Saves the message in file instead of in the default mail
file $HOME/mbox. Saves the message, without its postmark, in file instead of in the default mail file, $HOME/mbox. Forwards the current
message to users. If the forward was successful, deletes that message and then displays the next message. Writes any mail not yet deleted
to /usr/spool/mail/user and exits. Pressing the End-of-File key sequence has the same effect. Exit, leaving the mail file unchanged. Runs
the specified command. Displays a subcommand summary. Displays a subcommand summary.
The mail utility is marked LEGACY in XCU Issue 5.
The binmail program is not RFC 822 compliant. This affects messages that begin withlines that look like header lines. Header lines begin
with a string followed by a colon (:) (such as those found in the /etc/passwd file). Use mailx command to send such messages, or make sure
the message is preceded by a blank line.
For information about exit values, see the OPTIONS section.
To display your mail, enter: mail
After the most recent message is displayed, a ? (question mark) indicates that mail is waiting for one of the subcommands explained
previously (+, -, d, p, and so on). Enter help or an * (asterisk) to list the subcommands available. If the End-of-File key
sequence is <Ctrl-d>, you send mail to other users by entering: mail tom rachel Do not forget the meeting tomorrow at 9:30. <Ctrl-
In this example, the system mails the message Do not forget the meeting tomorrow at 9:30. to the users tom and rachel. The End-of-
File key sequence (in this case, <Ctrl-d>) indicates the end of the message, but it is not sent with the text. To send a file to
another user, enter: mail fran < proposal
This command sends the contents of the file proposal to fran. To save a message to the default mail file, enter: mail
This command displays each message mailed to you. Press <Return> after the ? prompt until the desired message is displayed.
When the appropriate message is displayed, enter: s
The message is saved in the default mail file, $HOME/mbox. To save a message to a specific file, enter: mail
This command displays each message mailed to you. Press <Return> after the ? prompt until the desired message is displayed. When
the appropriate message is displayed, enter: s mycopy
This command saves the message in a file named mycopy in the current directory, rather than in the default mail file.
Holds saved mail. Holds unmailable text. Contains user information. Holds incoming mail for user. Lock for mail directory. (Note: this
file is not created if lockf is used for locking.
Commands: login(1), mailx(1), sendmail(8), write(1), uucp(1)