Mutt is a Mail
User Agent (MUA) for Unix. It is a descendant of ELM, borrowing ideas from other
MUAs, like PINE and Mush. Right now it's a text mode application, not an X program.
But that might change one day. Mutt was written by Michael Elkins, although
many other people have contributed to the mutt coding process.
When you open mutt,
you will be presented with an interface that looks something like the following:
-*-Mutt: /var/mail/rnejdl [Msgs:73 New:1 Del:2 4.1M]---(reverse-date/date)-(28%)
1 D+ Jul 01 13:08 - Tino Steward Re: Party Tonight
2 NDF Jul 01 13:01 - Rusty Nejdl Trainnet Updates
3 T Jun 30 13:39 - Inger Klekacz RE: FW: indexing files
4 T Jun 30 12:37 - Eric Davis RE: PDF vs Authorware
5 r C Jun 30 11:05 - Rob Klippel RE: Cisco training
6 Jun 29 20:42 - Network Solutions Important Security Update to Your
7 F Jun 29 20:14 - Rusty Nejdl Re: Post Class Evaluation
8 r + Jun 29 11:17 - Martin J. Evans Re: Support Request - Personal
9 r + Jun 29 10:06 - Martin J. Evans Re: Support Request - Personal
11 r + Jun 29 05:05 - Martin J. Evans Support Request - Personal
12 + Jun 28 13:43 - Chip RE: ODBC Bridge
13 F Jun 28 11:42 - Rusty Nejdl CBT Orphans
14 Jun 28 11:39 - firstname.lastname@example.org ascendpipeline
15 F Jun 28 00:59 - Rusty Nejdl Trainnet Network
16 r F Jun 27 19:19 - Rusty Nejdl Re: CBT
17 Jun 27 18:06 - Eric Davis FW: Verio DACUM Validation and Ver
18 r F Jun 27 15:25 - Rusty Nejdl Re: CBT
19 + Jun 27 09:01 - Wayne Hinson Re: CBT
20 Jun 26 23:54 - VMware VMware Newsletter - June 2000 - Is
21 Jun 26 23:06 - S.D. Double Trouble
q:Quit d:Del u:Undel s:Save m:Mail r:Reply g:Group ?:Help
In addition to
who sent the message and the subject, a short summary of the disposition of
each message is printed beside the message number. Zero or more of the following
``flags'' may appear, which mean:
D message is deleted
K contains a PGP public key
M requires mailcap to view
N message is new
O message is old
P message is PGP encrypted
r message has been replied to
S message is PGP signed
! message is flagged
* message is tagged
following flags reflect who the message is addressed to.
+ message is to you and you only
T message is to you, but also to or cc'ed to others
C message is cc'ed to you
F message is from you
Working with Mail
Messages in Mutt
When you use Mutt,
any incoming messages will be automatically displayed on the display. The program
updates its list of messages any time that you use the arrow keys to move up
and down and also every 30 seconds when you are doing nothing.
Below is a brief
list of commands used to work with your messages in MUTT.
|j or Down
||move to the
|k of Up
||Move to the
|z or PageDn
||Go to the
|Z or PageUp
||Go to the
|= or Home
||Jump to the
|* or End
||Jump to the
||Starts a message
to send to someone.
||Marks a messages
||Views a particular
||View any attachments
on a particular message.
||Reply to just
the sender of a message.
||Reply to everyone in an e-mail.
messages. There are several options available to sort your messages by:
d - Date Sent
f - From
r - Date Received
s - Subject
o - To. This is espcially useful in messages with mailing
lists and CC lines.
t - Thread. This will group your messages acccording
to a message thread. That is, all the replies to a specific message will
be grouped together.
u - Unsort. This will put mutt back to its default setting,
which simply displays the messages in the order they are stored in the mail
z - Size.
c - Score. I am not completely sure what this means.
to save a message to a file.
When you quit Mutt, you will be asked if you want to delete any messages
marked for delete. The default is Yes. You will then be asked if
you want to move your mail to the ~/Mail directory. Although the default
is Yes, I advise against this.
your mail. Any messages that are marked for delete will be deleted from
the mail spool.
Mutt, by default,
stores any messages in your home directory in a folder called Mail. In my Mail
folder, I have these files which contain mails that I have saved there to be
kept separated from the rest of my mail:
[tethys]:[5:51pm]:[/home/rnejdl/Mail] > ls
abw log sent-mail tech
eanderson nancym sig.txt trash
inbox outbox sysmon vantive
To view messages
in a folder, I can run mutt with the -f flag and specify a specific folder.
If, for example, I wanted to see the mail on the tech list, which is stored
in the file called tech, I could run the following command:
[tethys]:[5:51pm]:[/home/rnejdl/Mail] > mutt -f tech
at that point would open up mutt with any mail stored in that file.
Mutt has many other
options with more details listed in the man pages, but a brief listing of the
more interesting command options is below:
-H Specify a draft file that contains a header and body to use when starting messages.
-c Specify a carbon copy recipient for all e-mail messages.
-a Attach a file to your messages, such as a signature file.
PGP and Mutt
To use PGP with MUTT,
you must first generate a PGP key. Use the following instructions to generate
a PGP key:
- Make sure that
you are in your home directory.
- Check to see
if you have a .pgp directory. If you do not then type mkdir .pgp.
- Next, generate
a PGP key by typing pgp -kg.
- Select "3"
for the 1024-bit encryption.
- Type your
real name followed by your e-mail address in angle brackets, like this:
Rusty Nejdl <email@example.com>
- Type your
passphrase. Use a password that is difficult for others to remember and
easy for you to remember.
- Retype your
- It will ask
you to start generating the key. Just keep typing random letters until it
says "Enough, thank you." The computer uses the times between each keystroke
to generate a random seed key to create your key.
- At the command
line, type: mutt
- To send someone
a PGP key using mutt, do the following:
- Press Esc and then the letter k
- Enter the e-mail address of the person you want to send the key to.
- Enter a subject for this e-mail.
- Enter the
key ID. In this case, type your username and mutt will pull up a list of
PGP keys. If there is only one key listed, press enter.
- Finally, press y to send the e-mail.
The .muttrc file
The .muttrc file
controls the look and feel of your mutt e-mail client as well as information
such as your e-mail address and real name. Below is an example of a fairly robust
.muttrc file. This file contains examples of most of the configuration options
that are used within mutt.
If this configuring
your mutt client to this level is beyond your needs, then there is an online
tool that will build you a .muttrc file using a web interface located at mutt.netliberte.org
There is one line
below that may be needed if you are having problems with mutt and PGP. If mutt
is not able to find your PGP key, you may need to add a line that says source /usr/home/rnejdl/pgp2.rc to your .muttrc file. The file that was sourced can be found using the located command. On shell.training.verio.net, this file
is located at /usr/local/doc/mutt/samples/pgp2.rc. More information on this can be found at www.mutt.org/doc/PGP-Notes.txt.
set hdr_format="%3C %Z %[%b %d %H:%M] - %-22.22n %s"
#set hdr_format="%3C %Z %[%b %d %H:%M] - %-22.22n %s"
set pager_format="[%C/%T] %s %> %n"
set attribution="%n(%u) wrote:"
#set status_format="-+ %v +-+ !*&$@: +-+ [New=%n] [Sort=%s] [Messages=%m] "
set indent_str="> "
set quote_regexp="^[>|\#:}] *"
set record= =outbox
unignore from: to cc date X-Smack X-World X-Team X-Mailer
color status brightwhite blue
color body brightred black "((http|ftp)://|mailto:)[^ \n\t]*[^., \n\t>]"
color tilde brightcyan black
color indicator brightwhite red
color hdrdefault brightwhite black
color message brightmagenta black
color bold brightgreen black
color error brightyellow black
#color quoted yellow black
#color quoted5 yellow black
color tree brightblue black
color attachment green black
color quoted green black # quoted text
color quoted1 magenta black
color quoted2 red black
color quoted3 green black
color quoted4 cyan black
color quoted5 yellow black
color quoted6 magenta black
color quoted7 red black
color quoted8 green black
color quoted9 cyan black
#mono status bold
mono body bold "(ftp|http)://[^ ]+"
#mono tilde bold
#mono indicator bold
macro compose P "p,e"
macro compose Y "p,f"
macro index ^[d "D.^M"
my_hdr From: Rusty Nejdl
my_hdr X-State: Dazed
save-hook firstname.lastname@example.org =mutt
save-hook email@example.com =mutt
For more Information
on Mutt and its configuration can be found at some of these URL's listed below:
The home page of Mutt can be found at www.mutt.org
A comprehensize guide that goes further into Mutt and its usage can be found at
mutt.netliberte.org allows you to build a .muttrc file by using a web interface.
Feel like you've learned a bit about MUTT, then take the Mutt and PGP Quiz.