32v 1m mail

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MAIL(1) UNIX Programmer's Manual MAIL(1)


mail - send or receive mail among users


mail [ + ] [ -i ] [ person ] ... mail [ + ] [ -i ] -f file


Mail with no argument prints a user's mail, message-by-message, in last-in, first-out order; the optional argument + causes first-in, first-out order. For each message, it reads a line from the standard input to direct disposition of the message.

newline Go on to next message.

d Delete message and go on to the next.

p Print message again.

- Go back to previous message.

s [ file ] ... Save the message in the named files (`mbox' default).

w [ file ] ... Save the message, without a header, in the named files (`mbox' default).

m [ person ] ... Mail the message to the named persons (yourself is default).

EOT (control-D) Put unexamined mail back in the mailbox and stop.

q Same as EOT.

!command Escape to the Shell to do command.

  • Print a command summary.

An interrupt normally causes termination of the command; the mail file is unchanged. The optional argument -i causes mail to continue after interrupts.

When persons are named, mail takes the standard input up to an end-of-file (or a line with just `.') and adds it to each person's `mail' file. The message is preceded by the sender's name and a postmark. Lines that look like postmarks are prepended with `>'. A person is usually a user name recognized by login(1). To denote a recipient on a remote system, prefix person by the system name and exclamation mark (see uucp(1)).

The -f option causes the named file, e.g. `mbox', to be printed as if it were the mail file.

When a user logs in he is informed of the presence of mail.


/etc/passwd  to identify sender and locate persons
/usr/spool/mail/* incoming mail for user *
mbox    saved mail
/tmp/ma*temp file
/usr/spool/mail/*.lock lock for mail directory
dead.letter  unmailable text


write(1), uucp(1), uux(1)


Race conditions sometimes result in a failure to remove a lock file.

Normally anybody can read your mail. An installation can overcome this by making mail a set-user-id command that owns the mail directory.