FSU Computer Science

Customizing the mail program with your .mailrc file

If you use the standard mail program (i.e., not elm), you can configure the mail program to suit your personal needs.

The following is taken from the mail manual pages. These are the configuration variables that you can set or unset in your .mailrc file. The mail program assumes your .mailrc is in your main directory unless you state otherwise in your .login file.

Examples on setting these variables:

prompt% cat .mailrc

set askcc         <-- will give you a Cc: prompt after message is entered
set crt=25        <-- message text longer than 25 lines will be piped
                      through "more".

set indentprefix=">"  <-- when you quote other peoples mail (using the
                          tilde escapes ~m or ~f), use ">" as the
                          indent character.

  Mail Variables
     The  following  variables  can  be  initialized  within  the
     .mailrc file, or set and altered interactively using the set
     command. They can also be imported from the environment  (in
     which case their values cannot be changed within mail).  The
     unset command clears variables. The set command can also  be
     used  to  clear  a  variable by prefixing the word no to the
     name of the variable to clear.

     Variables for which values are normally supplied  are  indi-
     cated with an equal-sign (=).  The equal-sign is required by
     the set command, and there can  be  no  spaces  between  the
     variable-name,  equal-sign, and value, using set to assign a

     allnet        All network names whose last component  (login
                   name)  match  are  treated as identical.  This
                   causes  the  message  list  specifications  to
                   behave  similarly.   Default is noallnet.  See
                   also the  alternates  command  and  the  metoo

     alwaysignore  Ignore header fields with  ignore  everywhere,
                   not  just  during  print or type.  Affects the
                   save, Save, copy, Copy, top, pipe,  and  write
                   commands, and the ~m and ~f tilde escapes.

     append        Upon termination, append messages to  the  end
                   of  the  mbox file instead of prepending them.
                   Default is noappend but append is set  in  the
                   global  start-up file (which can be suppressed
                   with the -n command line option).

     askcc         Prompt  for  the  Cc  list  after  message  is
                   entered.  Default is noaskcc.

     asksub        Prompt for subject if it is not  specified  on
                   the  command line with the -s option.  Enabled
                   by default.

     autoprint     Enable automatic printing  of  messages  after
                   delete  and  undelete  commands.   Default  is

     bang          Enable  the  special-casing   of   exclamation
                   points (!) in shell escape command lines as in
                   vi(1).  Default is nobang.

                   Set the default command for the pipe  command.
                   No default value.

                   Convert uucp addresses to  the  address  style
                   specified by conversion, which can be either:

                        This requires  a  mail  delivery  program
                        conforming  to  the  RFC822  standard for
                        electronic mail addressing.

                        Remove loops in  uucp(1C)  address  paths
                        (typically  generated  by  the reply com-
                        mand).  No rerouting is  performed;  mail
                        has  no  knowledge of UUCP routes or con-

                   Conversion is disabled by default.   See  also
                   sendmail(8) and the -U command line option.

     crt=number    Pipe messages having more  than  number  lines
                   through  the command specified by the value of
                   the PAGER variable (more  by  default).   Dis-
                   abled by default.

                   The name of the file in which to save  partial
                   letters  in  case  of  untimely  interrupt  or
                   delivery  errors.    Default   is   the   file
                   dead.letter in your home directory.

     debug         Enable  verbose  diagnostics  for   debugging.
                   Messages  are not delivered.  Default is node-

     dot           Take a period on a line by itself during input
                   from  a  terminal as EOF. Default is nodot but
                   dot is set in the global start-up file  (which
                   can  be  suppressed  with  the -n command line

     editheaders   Include message headers  in  the  text  to  be
                   edited by the ~e and ~v commands.

                   The command to run when the edit or ~e command
                   is used.  Default is ex(1).

     escape=c      Substitute c for the ~ escape character.

                   The directory for saving standard mail  files.
                   User  specified  file  names  beginning with a
                   plus  (+)  are  expanded  by   preceding   the
                   filename  with  this  directory name to obtain
                   the real  filename.   If  directory  does  not
                   start  with  a slash (/), the value of HOME is
                   prepended to it.  There is no default for  the
                   folder variable.  See also outfolder below.

     header        Enable printing of  the  header  summary  when
                   entering mail.  Enabled by default.

     hold          Preserve all messages that  are  read  in  the
                   system  mailbox instead of putting them in the
                   standard mbox save file.   Default  is  nohold
                   for mail and hold for mailtool(1).

     ignore        Ignore  interrupts  while  entering  messages.
                   Handy  for  noisy  dial-up  lines.  Default is

     ignoreeof     Ignore EOF during message input.   Input  must
                   be  terminated  by a period (`.') on a line by
                   itself or by the  `~.'  command.   Default  is
                   noignoreeof.  See also dot above.

                   When indentprefix is set, string  is  used  to
                   mark  indented  lines  from  messages included
                   with ~m.  The default is a TAB character.

     keep          When the system mailbox is empty, truncate  it
                   to  zero  length instead of removing it.  Dis-
                   abled by default.

     keepsave      Keep messages that have been  saved  in  other
                   files  in the system mailbox instead of delet-
                   ing them.  Default is nokeepsave.

                   The command (and options) to use when  listing
                   the   files  in  the  folder  directory.   The
                   default is ls(1V).

                   The name of the file to  save  messages  which
                   have  been  read.   The  xit command overrides
                   this variable,  as  does  saving  the  message
                   explicitly  to  another  file.  Default is the
                   file mbox in your home directory.

     metoo         If your login appears as a recipient,  do  not
                   delete it from the list.  Default is nometoo.

     no            When used as a prefix to a variable name,  has
                   the effect of unsetting the variable.

     onehop        When responding to a message that  was  origi-
                   nally  sent  to  several recipients, the other
                   recipient addresses are normally forced to  be
                   relative  to  the originating author's machine
                   for the response.  This flag disables  altera-
                   tion  of  the recipients' addresses, improving
                   efficiency in a network where all machines can
                   send  directly to all other machines (that is,
                   one "hop" away).

     outfolder     Locate the files used to record outgoing  mes-
                   sages in the directory specified by the folder
                   variable  unless  the  pathname  is  absolute.
                   Default  is nooutfolder.  See folder above and
                   the Save, Copy, followup,  and  Followup  com-

     page          Used with the pipe command to  insert  a  form
                   feed after each message sent through the pipe.
                   Default is nopage.

                   The command to use as a filter for  paginating
                   output,  along  with  any  options to be used.
                   Default is more(1).

     prompt=string Set  the  command mode  prompt  to   string.
                   Default is `&'.

     quiet         Refrain from printing the opening message  and
                   version   when   entering  mail.   Default  is

                   Record all outgoing mail  in  filename.   Dis-
                   abled  by default.  See also the variable out-

     replyall      Reverse the effect  of  the  reply  and  Reply

     save          Enable saving of messages in  the  dead.letter
                   file on interrupt or delivery error.  See DEAD
                   for a description of this  file.   Enabled  by

     screen=number Set the number of lines in  a  screen-full  of
                   headers for the headers command.

                   Alternate  command  for  delivering  messages.
                   Note:  in  addition  to  the  expected list of
                   recipients, mail also passes the  -i  and  -m,
                   flags  to  the command.  Since these flags are
                   not appropriate to  other  commands,  you  may
                   have  to  use  a shell script that strips them
                   from the arguments list  before  invoking  the
                   desired command.

     sendwait      Wait for background mailer  to  finish  before
                   returning.  Default is nosendwait.

                   The name of a preferred  command  interpreter.
                   Typically  inherited from the environment, the
                   shell is normally  the  one  you  always  use.
                   Otherwise defaults to sh(1).

     showto        When displaying the  header  summary  and  the
                   message  is  from  you,  print the recipient's
                   name instead of the author's name.

                   The autograph text inserted into  the  message
                   when  the ~a (autograph) command is given.  No
                   default (see also the ~i tilde escape).

                   The autograph text inserted into  the  message
                   when the ~A command is given.  No default (see
                   also the ~i tilde escape).

                   The number of lines of header  to  print  with
                   the top command.  Default is 5.

     verbose       Invoke sendmail with the -v flag.

                   The  name  of  a  preferred   screen   editor.
                   Default is vi.

Back to CS home page

Comments or questions should be sent to webmaster@cs.fsu.edu.