Help for Pine - Mail Collection
The Mail Collection is a directory that contains folders that are
primarily used for permanently saving messages. Although it is a common
practice to keep Incoming-Folders in this collection, it is not the best
place to hold them. For example, the TAB key does not work in this
collection to move between folders.
The directory that Pine uses for this collection is the "mail"
directory, but this directory can be changed by editing the file
"pine/os.h" and editing the value of DF_MAIL_DIRECTORY. If this directory
is not found, then Pine will create one upon startup, together with the
folders "sent-mail" and "saved-messages".
Organizing your Mail in Directories
Pine gives you the ability to organize your folders in subdirectories
the mail/ directory. This is useful since it allows you to reduce the
amount of folders visible at any time, and it also allows you to improve
the organization of your e-mail. As an example of this, one can create a
directory, say "2000", to store sent mail during the year 2000, this
reduces the amount of visible folders at any time. The directory "2000"
could also be a subdirectory of another directory called "old". In this
way you do not see past years "1999", "1998", etc in the same screen too,
and so on.
In order to add a directory you must put the cursor over any folder in
the Mail Collection and press "A ^X", and then the name of the directory
you want to create. One of the nice features of Pine is that if you want
to create a folder, say "2001", in the directory "old", you just need to
give the path to the folder, in other words entering "old/2001" creates
the folder. The nicest thing of all is that if the directory "old" did not
exist, Pine would create it, and then also add the folder 2001 to it.
In order to delete a directory you must previously delete all folders
(and files) contained in that directory. For this reason I always have
enabled [X] enable-dot-folders, since this feature allows me to see
hidden folders in a directory.
Notice that the "; Select" command does not enter to subdirectories,
it just checks for folders, so if you need to make a selection of messages
based on some criteria, you must open the directory first.
About the Default Folders
If you don't have an Incoming-Folders collection, then you will see
that INBOX is part of this collection. Conceptually this is wrong, because
INBOX should belong to the Incoming-Folders collection. One problem that
you will have because of this misconception is that you will realize that
you "can not" save a message to the INBOX. In fact, if you have a message
that you want to save to INBOX, pressing "s" and writing "INBOX", won't
have the desired effect. In order to save a message to the INBOX folder
you need to give its path as specified in the "inbox-path" configuration
variable (which is usually quite long). If you had an Incoming-Folders
collection saving a message to the INBOX would be easier and it is
explained in the Incoming-Folders Collection section. The default name of
the folder (as you see it in this collection) can be changed. Its
definition is in the file "pine/os.h".
There are a couple of folders that are also predefined for you.
- The sent-mail folder is used to keep a copy of
your outgoing mail. Pine is highly configurable about every behavior
related to this folder. For example, you can have no outgoing mail saved
automatically to this folder, by defining your default-fcc "", or you can
on a per message basis decide which messages which will be saved (or not)
to the sent-mail folder. In fact, if while you are composing a message you
press in the headers of the message, you can
redefine the Fcc: field. You can also change the default Fcc: for each of
the persons in your addressbook by editing their corresponding entry in
the addressbook. Finally there is a fcc-name-rule configuration option
that controls where messages are copied by default.
During the first session of Pine every month, Pine will
ask you if you want to rename your sent-mail folder to a different name
and then it will ask you if you want to delete old copies of this folder.
You can disable anyone of these questions by defining conveniently the
pruning-rule configuration option.
Another interesting behavior worth noticing about this folder, is that
when you open it for the first time, you'll see that all messages are
marked New, despite the fact that you already read them. The meaning of
the flag is that they are New to the folder, not to you. Another
interesting behavior corresponds to what you see in the From field of the
index. You should see that most messages are displayed as "To: Someone
Else". If you use several different names to send e-mail, you may start
seeing just your name, or the name of the different accounts you use to
send messages, instead of who you sent the message to. In this case you
should add the addresses that you use for composing messages to the
"alt-addresses" configuration option. If this does not fix your problem,
then you should pay attention to the definition of the index-format
variable, and make sure that it contains either the FROMORTO or the
Finally there are some options that also affect which messages are copied
into the folder when sending a message. Among them you can have the
attachments not saved when you send a message (fcc-without-attachments).
- The saved-messages folder is used to keep a copy
of your incoming mail before you actually delete it from any of your
Incoming-Folders. As sent-mail there are several configuration options
that affect this folder. The name of this folder is controlled by the
configuration option default-saved-msg-folder.
If you define your saved-msg-name-rule to be by "default", then when you
press "S" to save a message, Pine will offer to use this folder to save
Some other interesting configuration options are auto-move-read-msgs and read-message-folder. When these two options are
set, Pine will use the name of the folder entered in the latter
configuration option to move read messages that have not been deleted to
this folder upon quitting your session.
Notice that if you configure your read-message-folder
to be saved-messages (or any other folder) then this folder will enter
under the pruning-rule configuration option as it was
explained in the sent-mail configuration option.
One of the big differences in configurability of this folder with
respect to the sent-mail folder is the fact that one can not configure
Pine so that it offers a folder when messages from a mailing list which is
different than the folder that you use to save messages from a certain
person. For example, one may want to save messages from the mailing list
"recipes" in the folder "rec/saved-recipes", but messages from your boss
in the folder "boss". Regardless of how you configure Pine, there is no
way to make Pine offer you these folders when you press "S" to save a
message in a way that it will offer the correct folder for each message.
There are however some approximations to this, if you for example decide
to save messages by "nick", which helps a little bit, but you can't use it
to save in subdirectories of mail/.
- The postponed messages folders (called ) folder, is the folder where messages are
kept when you press the ^O key while composing a message. The folder is
automatically created if it does not exist. When I use Pico as an editor I
tend to save files with the ^O command instead of the ^X command, so I
always make the mistake of pressing ^O while composing messages. It's very
annoying to me that one can not confirm or cancel a message to be
Notice that if you continue composing a postponed message while you are
in this folder, pine will assume that you want to continue the message
over which the cursor is on. For example, if the cursor in the index in
on the last message, then pressing "C" to compose and accepting to
continue the postponed message will continue composing the last message of
that folder. When all messages of that folder have been continued, the
folder is automatically deleted. Notice that accepting to continue a
postponed message expunges that message immediately from this folder (in
particular this implies that if you continue the first postponed message,
then the second message of the folder will be immediately the first
message and so on)
There is one unexpected use of this folder, which is interesting by
itself. One nice feature of Pine is that you can insert the text of another
message within a message that you are composing without having to do some
cut and paste procedure (press ^R ^W while you are in the composer). There
are two problems with this, one is that if the message you want to insert
is in the same folder, then you need to remember the number of the message
in that folder. This is not good because sometimes you discover too late
that you wanted to do this. The other problem is that the message that you
want to insert in the message that you are composing may be in another
folder. In this case, what one can do is to postpone the message that one
is composing, go to the folder where the message that one wants to insert
is in, and save this message to the postponed-msgs folder, then go to the
postponed-msgs folder and continue the postponed message there. Now both,
the message that you are composing, and the message that you want to
insert, are in the same folder and you can insert the message that you
wanted to as explained before (this is what a mathematician would love to
do, to reduce the new problem to an old problem already solved). Notice
that if you do this, the number of the message that you want to insert may
be different than the one you see in the index, because the postponed
message has been expunged from the folder, so if you sort your folders by
arrival you have to insert the message that has the same number as the
postponed message that you are continuing has.
- The form-letter-folder is a folder that you can
use to save messages that you need to send several times, for example,
something like "Dear XXX, we would like to invite you to a conference", is
a good candidate for a message to be saved in this folder. In order to be
able to have this folder available to you, you need to define the
configuration variable "form-letter-folder", with the name of the folder
that you are going to use as "form letters".
The way that you add a message to this folder is by composing the form
letter message that you want to add and pressing ^O to postpone. If the
form-letter-folder option is configured, then Pine will ask you where you
want to save the message to, either to the "Postponed-msgs" folder (which
is the default, and you only need to press RETURN to do so) or to the
"forms-letter-folder", which is done by pressing "F" at the prompt. If the
folder does not exist, it will be created at the moment you save your
first form letter.
The way that you use a form letter in Pine, is in the same way that you
would continue a postponed message, with the obvious modifications of
changing "postponed" by "form letter" at each step.
Configuration Options Related to the Mail Collection
The following is a list of configurations that have to do with the Mail
Configuration and Display
- default-fcc, is used to specify the name and location of the folders
used to saved copies of outgoing messages. The default name is
"sent-mail" and is defined in the file "pine/os.h".
- default-saved-msg-folder, is used to specify the name and locations
of the folder used to save copies of incoming messages. The default name is
"saved-messages" and is defined in the file "pine/os.h".
- postponed-folder, is used to specify the name of the folder used to
save postponed messages. The default name is "postponed-msgs" and this
default value can changed in the file "pine/os.h"
- read-message-folder, is the folder where messages that are received in
an incoming folder are moved to, from your INBOX, when the folder is
closed, after being read. You can specify any path for saving, but not
specifying one means that the folder is located in the Mail Collection
- form-letter-folder, is the name of the folder whose purpose is
to have messages that can be used as a included text of a letter that you
send often to different people. It differs with the folder in that after having selected a
message from this folder as a basis of your composition, the message is
not deleted (or expunged) from the forms folder, as it is when a postponed
message is continued.
- enable-dot-folders, determines if you can see folders whose name
starts with a "period" in front of them. (Recommended).
- expanded-view-of-folders, this feature controls what happens when you
press "L" to see your folder list. If this feature and the
"combined-subdirectory-display" configuration option is also enabled, then
setting this option will show the name of all the visible folders in this
collection. If you have a News Collection defined, defining this may cause
some delay, as Pine validates each newsgroup in the list of newsgroups,
before the list of folders is displayed (actually this is done for every
collection, as every collection is updated when you press "L"). If you
loose too much performance by enabling this feature, feel free to disable
- quell-empty-directories, is an option that when enabled causes
Pine not to show empty directories.
- separate-folder-and-directory-entries, has the following
effect. When folders are displayed in the folder list, first are displayed
the default folders (sent-mail, saved-messages, etc), then the rest of
them. All the rest of the folders are shown in alphabetical order. If this
option is enabled, folders will be shown in alphabetical order among real
folders, and directories will also be sorted among them, but not all of
them will be sorted together.
- single-column-folder-list is self explanatory. When folders are
listed, only one folder is listed in each line.
- vertical-folder-list controls the display of the folders. If
enabled when folders are sorted automatically the display may be
horizontally sorted (the default) or vertically sorted (what this options