MAILTOOL(1) General Commands Manual MAILTOOL(1)
mailtool - SunView interface for the mail program
mailtool [ -Mx ] [ -Mi interval ] [ generic-tool-arguments ]
This command is available with the software installation option. Refer
to for information on how to install optional software.
mailtool is the standard SunView interface to mail(1). It provides a
window and mouse-based interface for reading, storing, composing, and
sending mail messages. Scrollable windows allow easy access to your
mailbox and mail folders. Software "panel buttons" make frequently-
used commands readily available. Less-used commands are accessible
from menus, and keyboard accelerators are provided for the more experi-
The full editing capabilities of textedit(1) and the SunView selection
service are available for modifying and composing mail. In addition,
you can customize mailtool by setting various parameters with default-
-Mx Expert mode. Do not ask for confirmation after poten-
tially damaging mail commands. This has the same effect
as setting the expert variable.
-Mi interval Check for new mail every interval seconds. This has the
same effect as specifying a value for the interval vari-
mailtool accepts the generic tool arguments described in
Users who are not familiar with the mail command should read For more
information on text editing and the selection service, see the
mailtool comes up closed. You can open the tool by clicking on the
icon with the LEFT mouse button. mailtool starts reading your system
mailbox as it opens. Alternatively, the frame menu on the icon con-
tains the Open pull-right item, which allows you to open mailtool to a
selected folder, or open and Compose, or just open without performing
any other operation.
mailtool is composed of six parts. From top to bottom, they are:
This is the broad stripe at the top of the tool, and it
displays status information. The right side displays
information about the most-recently executed command. The
left side displays other information such as the name of
the current folder. When involved in a lengthy operation,
mailtool displays a message to that effect on the left
side. While an operation is pending, the cursor takes on
the shape of an hourglass; you must wait until it finishes.
This read-only text window contains a list of message head-
ers from the current folder or mailbox. Initially, it
shows the contents of your system mailbox (by default).
Each header typically contains fields indicating who the
message is from, its subject, and so forth. There is a
scrollbar to the left that you can use to scroll through
This panel contains a collection of software buttons corre-
sponding to the most frequently used mail(1) commands.
Clicking on one of these buttons starts the indicated oper-
ation for either the selected or the current message. Com-
mands that require the name of a folder, such as Save, use
the contents of the `File:' text item. You must enter the
name of a file or folder in this space before clicking on
In addition to the panel buttons, other commands and varia-
tions are accessible through menus "behind" each panel but-
ton. To display a button menu, hold down the RIGHT mouse
button over the panel button. See Command Menus, below,
The message window
This text window displays the current message (marked with
`>>' in the header window). You can edit this message, in
which case the result replaces the original message in the
mailbox or folder.
This panel contains software buttons for composing or
replying to messages, and is visible only when you are com-
posing a message or reply.
This text window, in which you compose messages to send,
appears in conjunction with the composition panel. It is
normally displayed only when composing a message or reply.
It is initially loaded with mail header lines such as `To:'
and `Subject:', and perhaps, `Cc:'. After these labels
come various text fields, such as |>>recipients<<|. You can
move from field to field using CTRL-TAB. This advances to
the next text field. If you supply input to the field,
your input replaces its contents. Empty fields are deleted
when the message is sent. You can continue to edit the
message as you see fit until you click on Deliver, at which
point the message is sent as is. (You normally cannot
retrieve a message once it has been sent).
pop-up composition window
While composing a message or reply, clicking again on Com-
pose or Reply, opens another frame that contains a composi-
tion panel and window. The only limit on the number of
such pop-up composition frames is the number of windows
that a tool can support. These additional frames operate
Basic Mailtool Concepts
Choosing a message
To choose a message, place the cursor anywhere in its
header in the header window and click the LEFT mouse but-
ton. If there is no message chosen, mailtool applies oper-
ations to the current message.
The message that is displayed in the message window, and
flagged with a `>>' in the header window.
Some operations require confirmation, in which case an
alert is displayed. You can then confirm or cancel the
When mailtool starts up, it normally reads your system
mailbox. However, you can select another "folder" (file
containing mail messages) from which to read.
Some operations change the state of your system mailbox or
the current folder. These changes are not finalized until
you commit them. For instance, you can "undelete" messages
that were deleted, provided that you have not yet done an
operation that commits your changes. If the mailtool ses-
sion is interrupted, pending changes to the mailbox or
folder do not take effect. The Done button commits
changes, as does the Quit button, which also exits from
mailtool. To deliberately exit without committing, use the
pop-up menu behind the Quit button.
Except for the Next and Undelete buttons, mailtool commands operate on
the selected message or the current message only. You cannot specify a
list or range of messages as with mail(1). The control panel buttons
and items are (in alphabetical order):
Compose Open a composition panel and window to compose a message.
Delete Delete the selected or current message.
Done Commit changes, close mailtool, and read new mail on next
File: This is a text item in which to enter the name of a folder
for the Save, Copy, and Folder commands. This name can be
a full pathname, a pathname relative to the current direc-
tory (the directory mailtool was started from), or a file-
name prefixed with a `+' to refer to a file in the "folder"
Folder Commit changes and switch to the file or folder specified
in the `File:' text item.
Misc Display a pop-up panel to change the current directory of
mailtool. Other miscellaneous operations are available on
the menu behind this button.
New Mail If you are examining your system mailbox, retrieve new mail
without committing changes. If your are examining a
folder, commit any changes to the folder, switch back to
system mailbox, and retrieve any new mail in the process.
Next Display the message following the current message in the
Print Print the corresponding message on a hardcopy printer.
Reply Open a composition window to reply to the selected or cur-
Save Save the current or selected message in the folder speci-
fied in the `File:' text field, and delete it from your
system mailbox or current folder.
Show Display the chosen or current message in the message win-
The Composition Panel
This panel contains four buttons and a cycle-item. The cycle-item con-
trols the behavior of the composition window when it becomes inactive
-- when the user delivers or cancels a message. Items in the cycle
Disappear Remove the composition window and panel from display. This
is the default.
Stay Up Clear the window, but leave it displayed.
Close Close a pop-up composition frame.
The panel buttons are:
Cancel Abort the message being composed.
Deliver Send the message being composed to the indicated recipi-
Include Insert the corresponding message into the composition win-
dow at the caret. This operation can be performed repeat-
edly, to include various messages.
Re-address Insert the appropriate `To:', `Subject:' and `Cc:' fields
at the top of the composition window.
All panel buttons have menus behind them. The first item on the menu
is the default command; choosing this item is the same as clicking on
the panel button.
Some menu items are pull-right to menus of related commands. You can
browse the button menus to discover what additional commands are avail-
able, and what their accelerators are, if any. The following commands
are particularly useful.
Display a pop-up panel to change the current directory.
Commit Changes Commit changes. This item is behind the New Mail button
when viewing a folder.
Commit Changes and Quit
Behind the Done button. Commit changes and exit mail-
tool(1). This is the same as choosing Quit from the
Commit Changes and Retrieve New Mail
Behind the New Mail button. Commit changes and retrieve
new mail, switching to the system mail box if in a
folder. This is the default when viewing a folder.
Copy Behind the Save button. Copy the selected message to
the file or folder specified in the `File:' text item,
without deleting it from the mailbox or folder.
Deliver, Leave Window Intact
Behind the Deliver button. Deliver the message, but do
not undisplay, close, or clear the message composition
Behind the Include button. Include the indicated mes-
sage, setting it off by indentation rather than bracket-
ing it with `--- Begin Included Message ---' and `---
End Included Message ---' lines.
Previous Behind the Next button. Display the previous message in
the message window.
Quit without Committing Changes
Behind the Done button. Exit mailtool without commit-
Show Full Header
Behind the Show button. Display the complete message in
the message window, including header lines that are nor-
Source .mailrc Behind the Misc button. Read in your .mailrc file to
acquire new variables and settings. Note: this opera-
tion does not "forget" the previous option settings;
only changes to boolean variables take effect.
Undelete Behind the Delete button. Undelete the most recently
deleted message(s) -- this may be used repeatedly. It
is inactive when there are no deleted messages.
There are two special menus for use with the `File:' text item. Choos-
ing a name from either of these menus replaces the contents of this
item. The menu behind the `File:' item holds the most recently used
folder names of the current session. It is be initialized by the file-
menu variable. The menu behind the Folder button displays all folders
in the "folder" directory, which is specified by the folder variable
(described in mail(1)). Folders can be organized into subdirectories
within the folder directory. Files in these subdirectories appear in a
hierarchy of pull-right menus.
To switch to a folder, choose it from one of the file menus, or type it
in directly, and click on the Folder button. To return to your system
mailbox, use the New Mail button.
In addition to the variables recognized by mail(1), mailtool recognizes
those listed below. They can be set by using defaultsedit(1), or by
editing your .mailrc file directly. Unless otherwise noted, the
default for the following variables is off.
When set, allows you to step through messages in latest-
first oldest-first order if you choose. The next mes-
sage depends on the order of travel.
alwaysusepopup Never split the message window to compose or reply;
always use pop-up composition windows.
askbcc Prompt for the `Bcc:' field when composing or replying.
autoprint Display the next message when the current message is
deleted or saved.
bell The number of times to ring the bell when new mail
arrives. The default is 0.
disablefields Do not use text fields in the composition window. The
default is to use text fields.
Request confirmation before the first editing operation
to a message in the message window (as opposed to com-
posing a reply). The default is not to request confir-
mation of the first edit.
expert Set expert mode in which no confirmations are requested.
filemenu A list of files from which to initialize the `File:'
menu. These can be absolute pathnames, pathnames rela-
tive to the working directory for mailtool (typically
your home directory), or filenames prefixed with a `+',
which are taken as relative to the directory specified
in the folder variable (see mail(1)).
filemenusize Specifies the maximum size of the `File:' menu. The
default is 10.
flash The number of times to flash the window or icon when new
mail arrives. The default is 0.
headerlines The number of lines in header window. The default is
interval The interval in seconds to check for new mail. The
default is 300.
maillines The number of lines in mail message window. The default
moveinputfocus Move the input focus into the composition window for
Compose and Reply. This only works for click-to-type.
pop-uplines The number of lines in pop-up message composition win-
dow. The default is 30.
msgpercent The percent of the message window to remain visible dur-
ing Compose or Reply. The default is 50.
printmail The command to use to print a message. The default is
trash The name of trash bin, which may be accessed just like
any other folder. If set, all deleted messages are
moved to the trash bin. The trash bin is emptied when
you commit changes.
You can make your .mailrc set variables conditionally, depending on
whether it is running in the tty environment or the window environment.
See for details.
The environment variables LC_CTYPE, LANG, and LC_default control the
character classification throughout mailtool. On entry to mailtool,
these environment variables are checked in the following order:
LC_CTYPE, LANG, and LC_default. When a valid value is found, remaining
environment variables for character classification are ignored. For
example, a new setting for LANG does not override the current valid
character classification rules of LC_CTYPE. When none of the values is
valid, the shell character classification defaults to the POSIX.1 "C"
/var/spool/mail/* system mailboxes
~/.mailrc startup file for mail and mailtool
bin-mail(1), defaultsedit(1), mail(1), sunview(1), textedit(1)
aliases(5), locale(5), newaliases(8), sendmail(8)
If mail(1) receives an error, then mailtool may hang, in which case you
must kill it.
New mail status is only approximate, therefore the presence of new mail
is not always accurately reflected in the icon image or tool frame
Mouse input may be lost while mailtool switches to iconic state.
When notifying you of new mail, mailtool will not flash the window or
icon without beeping (ringing the audible bell). Thus, the number of
flashes is limited by the number of beeps you set.
Unlike mail(1), mailtool retains unsaved messages in the system mailbox
by default; that is, the hold variable is initially set.
2 October 1989 MAILTOOL(1)