mail, rmail - send mail to users or read mail
mail [+] [-epqr] [-f file]
mail [-dt] person ...
rmail [-dt] person ...
See mailx(1) and elm(1) for an enhanced user mail interface.
The mail command, when used without arguments, prints the user's mail,
message-by-message, in last-in, first-out order.
For each message, mail prints a ? prompt and reads a line from the
standard input to determine the disposition of the message. Commands
that automatically proceed to the next message exit from mail if mail
already on the last message.
mail supports the following commands:
<new-line> Go on to next message. Exit if already on last
+ Same as <new-line>.
n Same as <new-line>.
d Delete message and go on to next message.
p Print message again.
- Go back to previous message.
s [files] Save message in the named files (default is mbox),
mark the message for deletion from the user's
mailfile, and proceed to next message.
y [files] Same as s [files].
w [files] Save message without its header (the ``From ...''
line), in the named files (default is mbox), mark
the message for deletion, and go on to next
m person ... Mail the message to each named person, mark the
message for deletion, and go on to next message.
Hewlett-Packard Company - 1 - HP-UX Release 11i: November 2000
q Put undeleted mail back in the mailfile and stop.
EOT (Ctrl-D) Same as q.
x Abort. Leave original mailfile unchanged and
!command Escape to the command interpreter and execute
? Print a command summary.
* Same as ?.
The following command-line options alter printing of the mail:
+ Cause messages to be printed in first-in, first-
-e Suppresses printing of mail and returns the exit
0 = Mail present
1 = No mail
2 = Other error
-p Prints all mail without prompting for disposition.
-q Causes mail to terminate if an interrupt is
received. Normally an interrupt only causes the
termination of the printing of the current
-r Same as +.
-f file Causes mail to use file (for example, mbox)
instead of the default mailfile.
-t Causes the outbound message to be preceded by each
person the mail is sent to. A person is usually a
user name recognized by login (see login(1)). If
a person being sent mail is not recognized, or if
mail is interrupted during input, the file
dead.letter will be saved to allow editing and
resending. Note that dead.letter is regarded as a
temporary file in that it is recreated every time
needed, erasing the previous contents of
Hewlett-Packard Company - 2 - HP-UX Release 11i: November 2000
-d Causes mail to deliver mail directly. This
isolates mail from making routing decisions, and
allows it to be used as a local delivery agent.
Typically this option is used by auto-routing
facilities when they deliver mail locally.
When persons are named, mail takes the standard input up to an end-
of-file (or up to a line consisting of just a .) and adds it to each
person's mailfile. The message is preceded by the sender's name and a
To denote a recipient on a remote system, prefix person by the system
name and exclamation mark (see uucp(1)). Everything after the first
exclamation mark in person is interpreted by the remote system. In
particular, if person contains additional exclamation marks, it can
denote a sequence of machines through which the message is to be sent
on the way to its ultimate destination. For example, specifying
a!b!cde as a recipient's name causes the message to be sent to user
b!cde on system a. System a then interprets that destination as a
request to send the message to user cde on system b. This might be
useful, for instance, if the sending system can access system a but
not system b. mail does not use uucp if the remote system is the
local system name (i.e., localsystem!user).
The mailfile can be manipulated in two ways to alter the function of
mail. The other permissions of the file can be read-write, read-only,
or neither read nor write to allow different levels of privacy. If
changed to other than the default, the file is preserved, even when
empty, to perpetuate the desired permissions. The file can also
contain the first line:
Forward to person
which causes all mail sent to the owner of the mailfile to be
forwarded to person. This is especially useful for forwarding all of
a person's mail to a given machine in a multiple-machine environment.
In order for forwarding to work properly the mailfile should have
"mail" as group ID, and the group permission should be read-write.
rmail only permits the sending of mail. uucp uses rmail as a security
When a user logs in, the command mail -e can be used to detect the
presence of mail, if any, and so indicate. When terminating, mail
produces a notification message if new mail arrived while mail was
LC_TIME determines the format and contents of the displayed date and
Hewlett-Packard Company - 3 - HP-UX Release 11i: November 2000
If LC_TIME is not specified in the environment or is set to the empty
string, the value of LANG is used as a default for each unspecified or
empty variable. If LANG is not specified or is set to the empty
string, a default of "C" (see lang(5)) is used instead of LANG. If
any internationalization variable contains an invalid setting, mail
behaves as if all internationalization variables are set to "C". See
When set, the TMPDIR environment variable specifies a directory to be
used for temporary files, overriding the default directory /tmp.
International Code Set Support
Between HP-UX systems, single- and multi-byte character code sets are
supported within mail text. Headers are restricted to characters from
the 7-bit USASCII code set (see ascii(5)).
Conditions sometimes result in a failure to remove a lock file.
After an interrupt, the next message may not be printed. To force
printing, type a p.
Lines that look like postmarks in the message (that is, ``From ...'')
are preceded by >>>>.
mail treats a line consisting solely of a dot (.) as the end of the
message, except when the rmail -d command is used.
The maximum allowable line length in mail messages is BUFSIZ bytes as
defined in /usr/include/stdio.h. If line length exceeds this limit,
mail truncates the line starting at beginning-of-line, and uses only
the trailing BUFSIZ characters.
Using two separate mail programs to access the same mail file
simultaneously (usually inadvertently from two separate windows) can
cause unpredictable results.
Some sites that have programs that adhere strictly to RFC-822 will
fail to deliver a message if any of the recipient fields below is
You can add the RFC-822 commands into the mail program buffer/editor.
Hewlett-Packard Company - 4 - HP-UX Release 11i: November 2000
Subject: This is a test
This is a test
/var/mail/*.lock Lock for mail directory
dead.letter Unmailable text
/tmp/ma* Temporary file
$MAIL Variable containing path name of mailfile
$HOME/mbox Saved mail
/etc/passwd To identify sender and locate persons
/var/mail Directory for incoming mail (mode 775, group
/var/mail/user Incoming mail for user; that is, the mailfile
(mode 660, group ID mail)
login(1), mailx(1), uucp(1), write(1).
mail: SVID2, SVID3, XPG2, XPG3
rmail: SVID2, SVID3
Hewlett-Packard Company - 5 - HP-UX Release 11i: November 2000