Linux & Unix Commands - Search Man Pages
Man Page or Keyword Search:
Select Section of Man Page:
Select Man Page Repository:
apropos Keyword Search (sections above)

RedHat 9 (Linux i386) - man page for mail (redhat section 1)

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

     mail -- send and receive mail

     mail [-iInv] [-s subject] [-c cc-addr] [-b bcc-addr] to-addr...
     mail [-iInNv] -f [name]
     mail [-iInNv] [-u user]

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

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

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

     -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.

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

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

     -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.)

     -c    Send carbon copies to list of users.

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

     -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.

     -u    Is equivalent to:

		 mail -f /var/spool/mail/user

   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 an 'control-D' at the beginning of a line.  The section below Replying to
     or originating mail, describes some features of mail available to help you compose your let-

   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

   Specifying messages
     Commands such as print and delete can be given a list of message numbers as arguments to
     apply to a number of messages at once.  Thus ``delete 1 2'' deletes messages 1 and 2, while
     ``delete 1-5'' deletes messages 1 through 5.  The special name '*' addresses all messages,
     and '$' addresses the last message; thus the command top which prints the first few lines of
     a message could be used in ``top *'' to print the first few lines of all messages.

   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
     current message into the response right shifting it by a tabstop (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 systemwide 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/aliases, see aliases(5) and sendmail(8); 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.

   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 ``applicable messages'' and
     aborts the command.

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

     ?	     Prints a brief summary of commands.

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

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

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

     Type    (T) Identical to the Print command.

     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 alternate names is displayed.

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

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

     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.

     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.

     file    (fi) The same as folder.

	     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 +folder means a file in your folder directory.

     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 ?

     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-

     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.

     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

     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.

	     (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.

	     A synonym for reply.

     retain  Add the list of header fields named to the retained list Only the header fields in
	     the retain 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.

     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="->"''

	     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.

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

     source  The source command reads commands from a file.

     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.

     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  (U) 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

     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.

     ~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 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.

	     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.

	     Read the named file 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 alternate editor (defined by the VISUAL option) on the message collected
	     so far.  Usually, the alternate 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 through the command as a filter.	If the command gives no output 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

     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.

     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.

     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.

	     An option related to dot is ignoreeof which makes mail refuse to accept a control-d
	     as the end of a message.  Ignoreeof also applies to mail command mode.

     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

	     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.

	     Reverses the sense of reply and Reply commands.

     quiet   Suppresses the printing of the version when first invoked.

	     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.

	     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.

     crt	   The valued option crt is used as a threshold to determine how long a message
		   must be before PAGER is used to read it.  If crt is set without a value, then
		   the height of the terminal screen stored in the system is used to compute the
		   threshold (see stty(1)).

     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.

     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.

     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.

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

     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.

     Mail utilizes the HOME, USER, SHELL, DEAD, PAGER, LISTER, EDITOR, VISUAL and MBOX environ-
     ment variables.

     /var/spool/mail/*	  Post office.
     ~/mbox		  User's old mail.
     ~/.mailrc		  File giving initial mail commands.  Only used if the owner of the file
			  is the user running this copy of mail.
     /tmp/R*		  Temporary files.
     /usr/lib/mail.*help  Help files.
     /etc/mail.rc	  System initialization file.

     fmt(1), newaliases(1), vacation(1), aliases(5), mailaddr(7), sendmail(8) 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 that are not documented here.  Most are not useful to the general user.

4th Berkeley Distribution		December 30, 1993		4th Berkeley Distribution

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 07:56 AM.

Unix & Linux Forums Content Copyrightę1993-2018. All Rights Reserved.
Show Password

Not a Forum Member?
Forgot Password?