User Tools

Site Tools



Mutt is a small but very powerful text based program for reading electronic mail, including support for menus and scrolling, color terminals, MIME, POP, IMAP, and a threaded sorting mode.

General documentation for use of mutt:

  • You can put your personal mutt configuration in ~/.muttrc or ~/.mutt/muttrc. Using a dedicated directory allows putting related files, such as mailcap and aliases, in the same place.
  • Documentation in the man page is minimal, but you can use "?" to display key bindings and the F1 key to display the detailed manual. You can also use the lynx browser to view the manual. The manual's location will vary between installations. It might be:
    • /usr/share/doc/mutt/html/manual.html
    • /usr/share/doc/mutt-1.4i/html/manual.html
    • /usr/local/doc/mutt/manual.txt
  • Also see the mutt home page at
  • Probliems with documentation:
    • The documentation refers to commands, but doesn't clearly say how how to run them when running mutt. Prefix commands with ":" when you enter while running mutt. This is not needed within coufiguration files such as muttrc.
    • Figuring out and remembering the single key aliases are bound to commands is difficult.
  • Details on configuration options might be available in the system muttrc that might be: /etc/Muttrc Samples might be available in
    • /usr/share/doc/mutt/examples/
    • /usr/share/doc/mutt-1.4i/samples/
    • /usr/local/doc/mutt/samples/
  • Examples of configuration files that work on SLUUG systems are in muttrc mailcap and mail_aliases.
  • Mutt automatically figures out the format of mailboxes it reads. You can specify the format of mailboxes you create using the "mbox_type" configuration variable. The supported mailbox formats are mbox, MMDF, MH and Maildir. The default is mbox.
  • How to do default bcc or cc of yourself.


  • Can attach files to mail you send. It is also handles and displays attachment to seceived mail.
    • You will probably need to configure a mailcap file matching attachment types with viewers for them.
  • Can read and write mail files compressed with bzip2 and gzip.
  • Highly customizable, but difficult to learn.

Usage problems seen:

  • When reading a mailbox, the Page Down key advances through a message and silently on to the next message when the end of the first is reached. The Page Up key scrolls up within a document, but doesn't go to the previous message when the top is received.
  • When viewing a message, the up and down arrow keys don't scroll up and down within that message, they switch to the previous and next message in the mailbox. The Home and End keys move to the top and bottom within a message.

How to:

  • Move when viewing a message with the pager:
    • Scroll to bottom/top of a message. The default is = for top and no key to be assigned for bottom. The Home and End keys might also work for top and bottom.
    • Scroll down/up half a page. The default is for no key to be assigned to these functions. The functions are half-down and half-up.
    • Scroll down/up a small number of lines. The default is Back Space to scroll up one line, and Carriage Return to scroll down one line.
    • Scroll to a specific line number. Not available.
  • Move when viewing an index of messages:
    • Scroll to bottom/top. The default is = for top and * for bottom. The Home and End keys might also work for top and bottom.
    • Scroll down/up half a page. The default is [ for up half a page and ] for down half a page.
    • Scroll down/up a small number of lines. The default is < for up one line and > for down one line.
    • Scroll to a specific line number. Just start entering the number to jump to.
  • To change the default key keys assigned to functions, use the "bind" command in your muttrc. For example:
       bind pager ) half-down
       bind pager ( half-up
       bind index 'G' imap-fetch-mail
  • To select a group of messages and perform the same action on them, use "t" to tag individual messages, or "T" to tag using a pattern. To execute a command on tagged messages, prefix the command with ";" (which is the default "tag-prefix") such as ";d" to delete tagged messages. Or set the "auto_tag" variable to avoid the need for the prefix.
  • Make lynx the automatic viewer for HTML messages. TBD.

Transition from "mail" command:

  • Configuration from .mailrc to .muttrc:
    • Can directly use the alias statements. If the alias statements enclose the values in quotes, you will have to remove the quotes.
    • Use the same statements to specify headers to hide. There is also an unignore statement that is more useful, and a hdr_order statenebt to always display them in the same order. You can also use the color and mono statements to highlight different headers.
  • Tilde escapes are not supported for composing and sending messages.

Transition from "elm" command:

  • TBD.

Configuration to access SLUUG servers:

mutt.txt · Last modified: 2007/10/10 10:38 by