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3.20 mailutils

The mailutils utility is a multi-purpose tool shipped with Mailutils. It can be used for various mail and database-related tasks, as well as an auxiliary tool for compiling and linking programs with Mailutils.

3.20.1 Invocation Syntax

Mailutils is a command line tool. Its invocation syntax is:

mailutils [options] command [args]

where options are options that affect the behavior of mailutils as a whole, command instructs it what it is to do and args are any arguments the command needs in order to be executed.

The commands are:


Decodes or encodes email message headers.


Tests Mailutils access control lists.


Shows compiler options needed to compile with Mailutils.


Invokes a DBM management tool.


Applies a chain of filters to the input.


Displays a terse help summary.


Invokes an IMAP4 client shell (in development).


Displays information about Mailutils compile-time configuration.


Constructs a ld(1) command line for linking a program with Mailutils.


Logs information using Mailutils log facility.


Invokes a POP3 client shell.


Queries configuration values.


Scans wicket for matching URLs

3.20.2 mailutils help

The mailutils help command lists all available options and command names along with short descriptions of what each of them does. It is similar to the mailutils --help option.

A command name can be supplied as an argument to help, in which case it will display a help page for that particular command, e.g.:

mailutils help ldflags

will output help for the ldflags command. It is synonymous to the --help option used with that particular command, e.g.: mailutils ldflags --help.

3.20.3 mailutils info

The mailutils info command displays information about Mailutils compile-time configuration. In normal form its output lists a single configuration flag per line, e.g.:

$ mailutils info

A configuration flag can consist either of a single word, indicating that a particular capability has been enabled at compile time, or of a keyword/value pair delimited by an equal sign, which indicates a particular value used by default for that feature. For example, ‘IPV6’ means that Mailutils was compiled with support for IPv6, whereas ‘SYSCONFDIR=/etc’ means that the default place for configuration files is in /etc directory.

Such short output is convenient for using mailutils info in scripts to decide whether it is possible to use a given feature. To assist human users, the --verbose (-v) option is provided. It prints a short description next to each flag:

$ mailutils info --verbose
VERSION=2.99.93           - Version of this package
SYSCONFDIR=/etc           - System configuration directory
MAILSPOOLDIR=/var/mail/   - Default mail spool directory
SCHEME=mbox               - Default mailbox type
LOG_FACILITY=mail         - Default syslog facility
IPV6                      - IPv6 support
USE_LIBPAM                - PAM support
HAVE_LIBLTDL              - a portable `dlopen' wrapper library
WITH_GDBM                 - GNU DBM
WITH_GNUTLS               - TLS support using GNU TLS
WITH_GSASL                - SASL support using GNU SASL

3.20.4 mailutils cflags

The mailutils cflags command shows compiler options needed to compile a C source with Mailutils. It is intended for use in configuration scripts and Makefiles, e.g.:

CFLAGS=-g -O2 `mailutils cflags`

3.20.5 mailutils ldflags

The mailutils ldflags command is a counterpart of cflags which is used for linking. It constructs a ld command line for linking a program with Mailutils.

When used without arguments, it outputs ld arguments which would link only with the core Mailutils library libmailutils, e.g.:

$ mailutils ldflags
-L/usr/local/lib -lmailutils 

This command accepts a number of keywords which allow to select a particular subset of Mailutils libraries to link with. In particular, the argument ‘all’ instructs it to link in all available libraries:

$ mailutils ldflags all
-L/usr/local/lib -lmu_mbox -lmu_mh -lmu_maildir -lmu_imap -lmu_pop \
-lmu_mailer -lmu_compat -lmailutils -lmu_auth -lgsasl -lgnutls -lgcrypt \
-lldap -lgnuradius -lpam -ldl 

Other available keywords are:


Link in the UNIX mbox format support.


Link in the MH format support.


Link in the Maildir format support.


Link in the IMAP protocol support.


Link in the POP protocol support.


Enable support for mailers.


Link in the support for Sieve mail filtering language.


Link in the support for DBM databases (libmu_dbm library).


Link in the Mailutils authentication library.


Provide Guile language bindings.


Provide Python language bindings.

3.20.6 mailutils stat

The command mailutils stat shows status of a mailbox. The name or URL of the mailbox to operate upon is supplied in the first argument. If not given, the command will display status of the invoking user system mailbox.

$ mailutils stat
type: maildir
path: /var/mail/smith
URL: /var/mail/smith
size: 3498
messages: 24
recent messages: 3
first unseen: 20
uidvalidity: 1338543026
next uid: 87
access: 2016-12-15 09:15:08 +0200

The output format is controlled by the --format (-c) option. Its argument is the desired format string, composed of ordinary characters, which are reporduced on standard output verbatim, backslash sequences, and format specifiers, beginning with ‘%’.

Backslash sequences are interpreted as in C.

A format specifier consists of a leading ‘%’ followed by a letter. Optional ‘:’ may occur between ‘%’ and the letter. Its presense instructs the program to print the description of the corresponding value before the value itself.

The following format sequences are understood:


Name of the mailbox as supplied in the command line. If mailutils stat was used without explicit mailbox argument, ‘%f’ is equivalent to ‘%U’.


Type of the mailbox (‘mbox’, ‘maildir’, etc.). The description string is ‘type’.


Path to the mailbox. In case of remote mailboxes, it is the path part of the mailbox URL. Description string: ‘path’.


URL of the mailbox. Description string: ‘URL’.


Size of the mailbox in octets. Description string: ‘size’.


Number of messages in the mailbox. Description string: ‘messages’.


Number of recent (unread) messages in the mailbox. Description string: ‘recent messages’.


Index of the first unseen message. Description string: ‘first unseen’.


The UIDVALIDITY value. Description string: ‘uidvalidity’.


The UID value which will be assigned to the new message to be incorporated into the mailbox. Description string: ‘next uid’.


Access time of the mailbox, as a number of seconds since the epoch.


Access time of the mailbox in human-readable format.

3.20.7 mailutils query

The mailutils query command queries values from Mailutils configuration files. It takes one or more configuration paths (see Paths) as its arguments. On output, it displays the values it found, each value on a separate line. If the requested value is a block statement it is displayed in full. For example, if main configuration file contained:

logging {
   syslog yes;
   facility mail;


$ mailutils query .logging.syslog
syslog yes;
$ mailutils query .logging.syslog .logging.facility
syslog yes;
facility mail;
$ mailutils query .logging
logging {
  syslog yes;
  facility mail;

Several command line options allow to modify output format. The --value option instructs the command to output only values:

$ mailutils query --value .logging.syslog

The --path option instructs it to print full pathnames for each value:

$ mailutils query --path .logging.syslog
logging.syslog: yes

The --program option instructs mailutils to behave as if it was called under another program name. For example, the following command:

$ mailutils query --program=pop3d .server.transcript

will return the value of the ‘.server.transcript’ statement which the pop3d utility would see.

By default, mailutils query operates on the main configuration file. Another configuration file can be supplied using the --file (-f) option:

$ mailutils query --file /usr/local/etc/file.conf .pidfile

3.20.8 mailutils 2047

The mailutils 2047 command is a filter for decoding or encoding email message headers formatted in accordance with RFC 2047 (see By default, it operates in encode mode and assumes the ‘iso-8859-1’ encoding. If arguments are supplied in the command line, they are treated as the text to operate upon. Otherwise the command acts as a UNIX filter, reading lines from the standard input and printing results on the standard output.

For example:

$ mailutils 2047 'Keld Jørn Simonsen <>'
=?ISO-8859-1?Q?Keld_J=F8rn_Simonsen?= <>

The decode mode can be requested via the --decode (-d) option:

$ mailutils 2047 --decode '=?ISO-8859-1?Q?Keld_J=F8rn_Simonsen?= \
Keld Jørn Simonsen <>

The --charset (-c) option changes the default character set. It is meaningful both in decode and in encode modes. In decode mode it instructs the utility to convert the output to the given character set. In encode mode it indicates the encoding of the input data, which will be reflected in the resulting string:

$ mailutils 2047 --charset=utf-8 'Keld Jørn Simonsen <>'
=?utf-8?Q?Keld J=C3=B8rn Simonsen <>?=

The --encoding (-E) option can be used in encode mode to change the output encoding. Valid arguments for this option are: ‘quoted-printable’ (the default) or ‘base64’.

The --newline (-n) option prints an additional newline character after each line of output.

3.20.9 mailutils filter

The mailutils filter command applies a chain of filters to the input. The filters to apply and their arguments are given in the command line. The full invocation syntax is:

 mailutils filter [option] filter-chain

The syntax for filter-chain in Backus-Naur form follows:

<filter-chain> ::= <filter> | <filter-chain> "+" <filter>
<filter> ::= <filter-spec> <ARG>* 
<filter-spec> ::= <WORD> | "~" <WORD>

where <WORD> stands for the filter name and <ARG> represents filter arguments. To obtain a list of known filter names, run:

mailutils filter --list

Filters are applied in the order of their appearance, from left to right and operate in encode mode. The plus sign has the same meaning as pipe in shell. The default mode can be changed using the --decode (-d) and --encode (-e) options. Whatever the default mode is, a ‘~’ character before filter name reverts the mode for that filter alone.

For example, to encode the contents of file file.txt in Base64 run:

mailutils filter base64 < file.txt

To convert it to base64 and use CRLF as line delimiters, run:

mailutils filter base64 + crlf < file.txt

The following command will decode the produced output:

mailutils filter --decode crlf + base64

It can also be written as

mailutils filter ~crlf + ~base64

The following example converts the input from ISO-8859-2 to UTF-8, quotes eventual ‘From’ occurring at the beginning of a line, encodes the result in Base64 and changes line delimiters to CRLF:

mailutils filter iconv iso-8859-2 utf-8 + from + base64 + crlf

This final example removes UNIX-style comments from the input and joins continuation lines:

mailutils filter --decode inline-comment -S '#' + linecon 

Such invocation can be useful in shell scripts to facilitate configuration file processing.

3.20.10 mailutils acl

The mailutils acl command tests Mailutils Access Control Lists. By default it reads ACL from the Mailutils configuration file section ‘acl’. The command takes a list of IP addresses as its arguments, applies the ACL to each of them in turn and prints the result.

To select the ACL to test, two options are provided. The --file (-f) option supplies the name of configuration file to read instead of the default one. The --path (-p option supplies the pathname (see Paths) of the ACL section to use instead of the default ‘.acl’. For example, to test ACL in section ‘server’ of file /etc/pop3d.conf use:

mailutils acl --file=/etc/pop3d.conf \
       --path=/server=""/acl address

As an example of its use, consider file test.conf with the following contents:

acl {
        deny from;
        deny from;
        log from any "Connect from ${address}";
        allow from;
        allow from;
        deny from any;

Then, running mailutils acl --file=test.conf you will get:

mailutils: Connect from deny

More examples:

$ mailutils acl --file=test.conf \
mailutils: Connect from deny
Testing deny
Testing deny
mailutils: Connect from accept
mailutils: Connect from accept
mailutils: Connect from accept

The mailutils option --debug-level will give you a deeper insight into the address matching algorithm:

$ mailutils --debug-level=acl.trace9 acl --file test.conf
mailutils: Checking sockaddr
mailutils: 1:deny: Does match no; 
mailutils: 2:deny: Does match no; 
mailutils: 3:log: Does any match yes; 
mailutils: Expanding "Connect from ${address}";
mailutils: Expansion: "Connect from";. 
mailutils: Connect from
mailutils: 4:accept: Does match no; 
mailutils: 5:accept: Does match no; 
mailutils: 6:deny: Does any match yes; deny

See acl.

3.20.11 mailutils wicket

The mailutils wicket command looks up matching URLs in the Mailutils ticket file (by default, ~/.mu-tickets) and prints them. The URLs to look for are supplied in the command line.

Consider the following ticket file as an example:


Now, running mailutils wicket smtp:// will show:

smtp:// /home/user/.mailutils-tickets:2

(where user is your login name). This means that this URL matches the line 2 in your .mailutils-tickets file. The wicket command does not show the actual matching line to avoid revealing eventual security-sensitive information. You can instruct it to do so using the --verbose (-v) option:

$ mailutils wicket -v smtp://
smtp:// /home/user/.mu-tickets:2: smtp://bar:***

As you see, even in that case the tool hides the actual password part by replacing it with three asterisks. If you are working in a secure environment, you can tell mu wicket to show passwords as well, by supplying the -v option twice.

A counterpart of --verbose is the --quite (-q) option, which instructs wicket to suppress any output, excepting error messages. This can be used in scripts, which analyze the mailutils wicket exit code to alter the control flow.

The mailutils wicket tool exits with code 0 if all URLs were matched and with code 1 if some of them were not matched in the ticket file. If an error occurred, the code 2 is returned.

3.20.12 mailutils dbm

The mailutils dbm tool manages DBM files using libmu_dbm The invocation syntax is:

mailutils dbm subcommand [options] file [keys]


mailutils dbm [options] subcommand file [keys]

where subcommand selects the operation mode, options modify the tool behavior and file specifies the DBM file to operate upon. Some commands allow for optional keys to be specified.

The file argument can be either a DBM file name or a Database URL. Create a Database

The create subcommand and its synonym load instruct the tool to create a new database:

mailutils dbm create file.db

If the argument file already exists, it will be truncated prior to adding new records to it.

The data to populate the database with are read from the standard input. The mailutils dbm command supports several formats for these data, which are discussed later. In the simplest case (a so called ‘format 0.0’) each input line must consist of two fields separated by any amount of whitespace. The first field is treated as a key and the second one as the corresponding value.

The usual way to read data from a file is, of course, by redirecting the file to the standard input as in:

mailutils dbm create file.db < input.txt

There is also a special option for that purpose: --file (-f). Thus, the following command is equivalent to the one above:

mailutils dbm create --file input.txt file.db 

The --file option has the advantage that it allows, in conjunction with another options, for copying input file metadata (owner UID, GID and file mode) to the created database. For example, the following command ensures that the created database file will have the same metadata as the input file:

mailutils dbm create --file input.txt --copy-permissions file.db

The --copy-permissions (-P) option is the one that does the job.

There are also other ways to control mode and ownership of the created database, which are described below.

More advanced dump formats (e.g. ‘version 1.0’ format) carry additional information about the file, including its original name, ownership and mode. If input is in one of these formats, the file name argument becomes optional. If it is not supplied, the name stored in the input stream will be used. For example, supposing that the file users.dump is in format 1.0, the following command suffices to restore the original filename, ownership, mode and, of course, data:

mailutils dbm create --file users.dump Add Records to a Database

The add subcommand adds records to a database. Records are read from the standard input and must be formatted as for create:

mailutils dbm add file.db

If the argument file does not exist, it will be created.

Adding a record with a key which is already present in the database produces an error. To replace existing records, use the replace subcommand instead.

The same options that affect the behavior of create apply to add and ‘replace’ as well, e.g.:

mailutils dbm replace --file input.txt --copy-permissions file.db Delete Records

To delete records, use the delete subcommand. It reads a list of keys to delete to be specified as arguments in the command line:

mailutils dbm delete file.db foo bar

The command above will delete from file.db records with keys ‘foo’ and ‘bar’.

It is not an error to attempt to delete a key that does not exist in the database, although such use will produce a warning message.

By default, keys are matched literally. It is also possible to use various pattern matching techniques, depending on the option specified.

The --glob (-G) option instructs the tool to use UNIX globbing pattern matching. For example, the command below will delete all keys starting with ‘foo’ and ending with a decimal digit:

mailutils dbm delete file.db 'foo*[0-9]'

(note the quoting necessary to prevent shell from interpreting the metacharacters itself).

Another option, --regex (-R) instructs mailutils to treat supplied keys as extended regular expressions:

mailutils dbm delete --regex file.db 'foo.*[0-9]{1,3}'

Both options are affected by the --ignore-case (-i) option, which turns on case-insensitive matching.

Using pattern matching to delete records can be a risky operation as selecting a wrong pattern will lead to removing wrong records. It is recommended to first use the list mode described below to verify that the patterns match the right keys. List the Database

The list command lists the content of the database:

mailutils dbm list file.db

By default, entire content is listed on the standard output.

If supplied more than one command line argument, this mode treats the rest of arguments after the database file name as the keys to look for and lists only records with these keys:

$ mailutils dbm list file.db foo bar
foo 1
bar 56

The --glob and --regex options instruct the tool to use UNIX globbing or extended regular expression matching, correspondingly. These were described in detail above. Dump the Database

The dump subcommand dumps the database to the standard output in a format suitable for backup or sending over the network (a version 1.0 format).

mailutils dbm dump file.db < file.dump

The produced file is suitable for input to the create (load) command. Among other uses, it provides an easy way to convert databases between various formats supported by Mailutils. For example this is how to convert the database file file.db to the GDBM database new.db:

mailutils dbm dump file.db | mailutils dbm create gdbm://new.db

Both list and dump subcommands share the same set of options. In fact, they are pretty similar, except that use different defaults. The list subcommand is designed to produce a human-readable output, whereas the dump subcommand is oriented towards backup purposes. Dump Formats

As of version 3.14, mailutils dbm supports two formats for dumping DBM databases. Both formats are line-oriented. Comments are introduced with a sharp (‘#’) sign in the column 0 of a line, followed by at least one white space character (space or tab). Sharp sign followed by a colon (‘#:’) introduces a pragmatic comment, which carries some additional information to the loader.

The version 0.0 format is suitable for databases whose records contain only ASCII data. In this format, each record occupies a separate line, which consists of the key and value separated by a single TAB character. Empty lines are ignored. For example:

$ mailutils list /etc/mail/users.db
root    guessme
smith   pAssword
qed     fooBar

The output in version 0.0 format is human readable and can be used as input to the popauth utility (see popauth. However, version 0.0 has serious drawbacks. First of all, it is not suitable for databases that contain binary data. Secondly, it cannot properly handle keys beginning with a sharp sign or containing TAB. The version 1.0 format is free from these drawbacks.

The version 1.0 dump format begins with a header containing important information about the file, such as its file name, ownership and file mode. This information is stored in pragmatic comments and allows mailutils dbm load to easily recreate an exact copy of the file. The following comments are defined:


Indicates that the data that follow are in version 1.0 format.


Original database file name, without directory parts.


Owner UID.


Owner name.


Owner GID


Owner group name.


File mode in octal

Following this header are actual data. Each record is output in two parts: key and value. Each part begins with a ‘#:len=n’ construct on a line by itself, where n is the length of the data in decimal. This line is followed by one or more lines of the actual data, encoded in base64. The data are formatted so that each line does not exceed 76 bytes in length (not counting the terminating newline). An example of this format follows:

# Database dump file created by GNU Mailutils 2.99.93 on
# Tue Nov  1 13:28:03 2011
Zm9vQmFyAA== Dbm Exit Codes

The table below summarizes exit codes used by mailutils dbm:

CodeSymbolic nameMeaning
0EX_OKSuccessful termination
64EX_USAGECommand line usage error
65EX_DATAERRError in user-supplied data: the input file is badly formatted, or some of the data supplied in the command line are invalid (e.g. user name, uid or the like), etc.
66EX_NOINPUTCannot open input file
67EX_NOUSERNo such user or UID when trying to set output file ownership
69EX_UNAVAILABLEOperation cannot be performed due to some kind of problem (e.g. access to the file denied, etc.)
70EX_SOFTWAREInternal software error
74EX_IOERRInput/output error

3.20.13 mailutils logger

The mailutils logger tool logs information using Mailutils log facility.


mailutils logger [options] [message]

The message argument, if supplied, gives the text to log. If not supplied, the utility reads lines of text from standard input or a file (if the --file option is given) and sends them to log:

# Send text to log
$ mailutils logger I am here
# Log each line from file.txt
$ mailutils logger --file file.txt
# Read stdin and log it:
$ mailutils logger

The default logging channel is bound to standard error. To bind it to syslog, use the --syslog command line option. In that case mailutils uses facility ‘user’ and priority ‘err’. You can change this by using the --priority (-p) option. Its argument is either a syslog facility name or facility and severity names separated by a dot. For example, the following invocation will use facility ‘auth’, severity ‘info’:

mailutils logger --priority

The syslog tag can be set using the --tag (-t) option:

mailutils logger --tag myprog

The default tag is ‘mu-logger’.

The --severity (-s) option sets the Mailutils severity level. Its argument can be any of the following: ‘debug’, ‘info’, ‘notice’, ‘warning’, ‘error’, ‘crit’, ‘alert’, ‘emerg’.

Finally, the --locus (-l) option binds log messages to a location in a file. Its argument has the following syntax:


where file is the file name, line is the line number and optional col is the column number in that file.

For example, the following invocation:

mailutils logger --locus mailutils.conf:34 Suspicious statement

will send the following to the log:

mu-logger: mailutils.conf:34: Suspicious statement

3.20.14 mailutils pop

The mailutils pop command invokes an interactive POP3 client shell. It reads commands from the standard input, executes them and displays the results on the standard output. If the standard input is connected to a terminal, the readline and history facilities are enabled (provided that Mailutils is configured with GNU Readline).

The mailutils pop commands form two major groups. POP3 protocol commands interact with the remote POP3 server and display responses obtained from it. These commands are named after their POP3 equivalents. Another group, internal commands, are used to configure the shell itself.

POP protocol commands

connect [-tls] hostname [port]

Open connection to hostname. If the -tls option is given, TLS encryption (also known as POPS protocol) will be used. If port argument is not given, the command uses port 110 for a plain POP connection or 995 for POPS (if -tls is given).


Start TLS negotiation. This command is valid only after successful unencrypted connection has been initiated (using connect without -tls argument).

user name

Send user name to the server. The pass command must follow.

pass [password]

Send password. This command is valid only after user. If the password argument is omitted, the shell will ask you to enter it. While entering, both echoing and history recording will be disabled. Use this to avoid compromising your password.

apop user [password]

Authenticate with APOP. If the password argument is omitted, you will be asked to supply it. While entering, both echoing and history recording will be disabled.

capa [-reread] [name...]

List server capabilities. Any number of arguments is accepted. If given, the shell will display only the named capabilities, otherwise it displays entire list. By default capa reuses the response of its previous invocation (if there was any), instead of resending the ‘CAPA’ command to the server. To force it do so, use the -reread option.


Send a ‘NOOP’ (no operation) command to the server.


Get the mailbox size and number of messages in it.

uidl [number]

Shows unique message identifiers. Without arguments, shows identifiers for each message in the mailbox. If number is given, the command returns the UIDL of that particular message only.

list [number]

Lists messages. See above for the meaning of number. Each line of the produced listing contains describes a single message and contains at least the message number and size in bytes. Depending on the POP3 server implementation, additional fields may be present. For example, Mailutils pop3d can also output number of lines in the message in the additional third field.

retr number

Retrieve a message.

top msgno [number]

Display message headers and first number (default 5) of lines of its body.

dele number

Mark message for deletion.


Remove deletion marks.


Quit pop3 session.


Close existing connection.

Internal commands

verbose [on|off|mask|unmask] [secure [payload]]

Control output verbosity. Without arguments the verbose command shows current settings.

The argument ‘off’ (the default) turns off all additional output. The ‘verbose on’ command enables POP3 protocol tracing output. Additional arguments can be used to provide more verbosity. The ‘secure’ argument enables display of user passwords in the trace output and the ‘payload’ argument enables showing payload data (e.g. response body sent in the reply to ‘RETR’ command, etc.) Thus, the full diagnostics output is obtained by

verbose on secure payload

The ‘mask’ and ‘unmask’ arguments allow to disable and enable such additional verbosity. For example, supposing the command above is in action, the following command will suppress the display of user passwords in the traces:

verbose mask secure

Similarly, verbose unmask secure will turn it back again.

prompt string

Set command prompt. The argument can contain variable references in any of the following forms:


where name is the variable name. Such references are expanded to the actual value of the variable at the time of expansion. The following variables are defined:

userLogin name of the authenticated POP3 user. If the session is not authenticated yet, expands to ‘[nouser]’.
hostName of the remote host, or ‘[nohost]’ if no connection is established.
program-nameName of the program, as typed on the command line to invoke it.
versionMailutils version number (3.14)
statusSession status. One of: ‘disconnected’, ‘connected’ or ‘logged in’.

For example:

prompt "[${user}@$host "

Notice the use of quotes to include the space character in the prompt.


Exit the program.

help [command]
? [command]

Without arguments displays a list of commands with possible arguments and short descriptions.

With one argument, displays a terse description for the given command.


Shows command history.

3.20.15 mailutils imap

The mailutils imap command invokes an interactive IMAP4 client shell. It reads commands from the standard input, executes them and displays the results on the standard output. The shell is similar to the mailutils pop (see mailutils pop) shell.

IMAP protocol commands

Most commands in this group correspond (with minor differences) to IMAP commands described in RFC 35015.

imap command: connect [-tls] host [port]

Opens connection to the server host. If the -tls option is given, TLS encryption (also known as IMAPS protocol) will be used. If port argument is not supplied, the command uses port 143 for a plain IMAP connection or 993 for IMAPS (if -tls is given).

imap command: capability [-reread] [name...]

Lists server capabilities. Any number of names is accepted. If at least one is given, the shell will display only the named capabilities, otherwise it displays the entire list. By default, capability reuses the response of its previous invocation (if there was any), instead of resending the CAPABILITY command to the server. To force it do so, use the -reread option.

imap command: starttls

Starts TLS negotiation. This command is valid only after unencrypted connection has been successfully initiated using connect without the -tls option.

imap command: login user [password]

Logs in to the server as user with optional password. If the pass argument is omitted, the shell will ask you to enter it. While entering, both echoing and history recording will be disabled. Use this to avoid compromising your password.

imap command: logout
imap command: quit

Quits the imap session.

imap command: id [-test kw] [arg...]

Sends IMAP ID command. See RFC 29716, for a discussion of arguments. By default, this command outputs entire ID list. If, however, the -test option is given, it will check whether the keyword kw is defined and display its value if so.

imap command: check

Requests a server checkpoint.

imap command: select [mbox]

Selects the named mailbox. Without argument, selects ‘INBOX’.

imap command: examine [mbox]

Examines the named mailbox, i.e. selects it in read-only mode. If mbox is not given, ‘INBOX’ is assumed.

imap command: status mbox kw [kw...]

Gets mailbox status. Valid keywords (kw arguments) are: ‘MESSAGES’, ‘RECENT’, ‘UIDNEXT’, ‘UIDVALIDITY’, and ‘UNSEEN’. Keywords are case-insensitive.

imap command: fetch msgset items

Fetches message data. See RFC 3501, section 6.4.57, for a discussion of its arguments.

imap command: store msgset items

Alters mailbox data. See RFC 3501, section 6.4.68, for a discussion of its arguments.

imap command: close

Closes the currently selected mailbox (with expunge).

imap command: unselect

Closes the currently selected mailbox (without expunge).

imap command: delete mbox

Deletes the mailbox mbox.

imap command: rename old-name new-name

Renames existing mailbox old-name to new-name.

imap command: expunge

Permanently removes messages marked for deletion.

imap command: create name

Creates new mailbox with the given name.

imap command: append [-time datetime] [-flag flag] mailbox file

Reads an RFC-822 message from file and appends it to the mailbox. Use the -time option to supply envelope date for the message. Use the -flag option to supply message flags. For example:

append -time "25-Aug-2002 18:00:00 +0200" -flag \Seen INBOX input.msg
imap command: list ref mbox

Lists matching mailboxes. See RFC 3501, section 6.3.89, for a discussion of its arguments.

imap command: lsub ref mbox

Lists subscribed mailboxes (RFC 3501, section 6.3.910).

imap command: subscribe mbox

Subscribes to a mailbox.

imap command: unsubscribe mbox

Removes mailbox mbox from the subscription list.

imap command: noop

Sends a no operation command.

imap command: disconnect

Closes existing connection.

Internal commands

The imap shell implements the same set of internal commands as pop shell: See Internal commands. There is only one imap-specific internal command:

imap command: uid [on|off]

Controls the UID mode. When the UID mode is on, the commands fetch and store operate on and return message UIDs instead of their sequence numbers.

To examine the current state of the UID mode, issue the uid command without arguments.

3.20.16 mailutils send

Reads an RFC-822 message from a file and sends it over to a specified SMTP server. The syntax is:

mailutils send [options] host file

where host defines the SMTP server through which to send the message, and file is the name of the input file containing the message. For example, to send a message from file input.msg using SMTP service at localhost, one would write:

$ mailutils send localhost input.msg

The host argument can be an IP address, hostname, or a valid SMTP URL.

The following command line options are understood:

-F address

Supplies envelope sender address.

-T address

Supplies envelope recipient address. It can be specified multiple times.


Instructs the program to read recipient email addresses from the message ‘To:’, ‘Cc:’, and ‘Bcc:’ headers.

3.20.17 mailutils smtp

The mailutils smtp command invokes an interactive SMTP client shell. It reads commands from the standard input, executes them and displays the results on the standard output. If the standard input is connected to a terminal, the readline and history facilities are enabled (provided that Mailutils is configured with GNU Readline).

Initializing connection

smtp command: connect [-tls] host [port]

Connects to SMTP server at host (IP address or host name). If the -tls option is given, TLS encryption (also known as SMTPS protocol) will be used. The default port number is 25 for plain SMTP and 465 for SMTPS. Explicit port argument overrides the default value.

Connection parameters

A number of parameters is associated with an open connection:


Domain name used in EHLO statement. Defaults to the current host name.

The following parameters are used for ESMTP authentication:


User name.


User password.


GSASL service name.


Realm name.


Host name.


SMTP URL. It can contain all of the above. Default is smtp://

These parameters are manipulated using the following statements:

smtp command: set param value [param value...]

Sets parameter param to value. Several parameters can be set with one set statement.

smtp command: clear [param...]

Unset the supplied connection parameters. If used without arguments, unsets all parameters.

smtp command: list [param...]

Lists the values of the connection parameters. If used without arguments, lists all parameters.

SMTP commands

smtp command: ehlo [domain]

Sends the ESMTP greeting. Unless domain is supplied, the connection parameter ‘domain’ is used.

smtp command: capa [name...]

Lists the server capabilities.

smtp command: starttls

Initiates encrypted connection. This command is disabled if the connection is opened with the -tls option.

smtp command: auth mech [mech...]

Authenticate using the supplied mechanisms.

smtp command: rset

Reset the session state.

smtp command: from [email]

Sets sender email address. If used without arguments, prints the sender email address.

smtp command: to [email]

Sets recipient email address. If used without arguments, prints all recepient names collected so far.

smtp command: smtp command [args...]

Sends the command with its arguments verbatim.

smtp command: quit

Quits the SMTP session.

smtp command: send [file]

Reads the message from file and sends it. If file is not supplied, the action depends on whether a send command was used prevously within the same session. If so, mailutils will first ask whether to reuse the already supplied message. If not, it will start an editor, allowing you to enter the new message. When you exit from the editor, you will be prompted what to do with the message: send, edit, or quit (discard) it.

Internal commands

Internal commands are the same as in pop shell: See Internal commands.

3.20.18 mailutils maildir_fixup

This command fixes attributes and UID assignments in ‘maildir’ mailboxes created by mailutils versions prior to 3.10.90.

Attribute flags used in ‘maildir’ mailboxes by these versions of mailutils were a bit different from those described in the original description of the ‘maildir’ format11 and those used by another implementations. The discrepancy has been reported in the Mailutils bug tracker12 and was fixed in version 3.10.90. Along with this fix, measures has been taken to ensure persistence of UID assignments between different sessions. Starting from version 3.10.90, whenever mailutils library opens a maildir mailbox, it determines the version that created it. If the mailbox is writable and the library determines that the mailbox is affected by the two problems described above, it fixes the mailbox on the fly. This process is completely transparent to the user.

If you operate a site with a large number of mailboxes in ‘maildir’ formats, you may choose to fix up all of them at once. That’s what the maildir_fixup command is for. It takes one or more directory names as its arguments and recursively scans these directories in search for ‘maildir’ mailboxes. Each mailbox found is analyzed and a fix-up is performed, if necessary. If a mailbox is already in the new format, it remains untouched.

The following options modify the program’s behavior:


List each maildir name before processing it.


Don’t touch maildirs, just print their names,

The maildir_fixup tool reads main mailutils configuration file by default. It looks for program-specific settings in the section ‘program maildir_fixup’. If the include statement is present that has a directory name as its argument, the file maildir_fixup is looked up in that directory and parsed, if present.

The program uses the following configuration statements:

debugSee debug statement.
lockingSee locking statement.
mandatory-lockingSee mandatory-locking statement.











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