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Is Pine for Power Users?

Pine is a great tool for managing your email, because it's fast, easy to learn, and easily configurable. But it also has many advanced features for power users. Once you've become proficient at basic mail handling, try some of these features. (All are accessed from the FOLDER INDEX screen.) Searching

Use the W ("where is") command to search the FOLDER INDEX screen for messages with a certain word in the Subject line. You can also use the W command when you're viewing a message to search for text in the message body.


Use the $ command to sort your messages in a variety of ways, including by subject, sender, size, and arrival time.

Address Book

Use the T command to "take" the sender's address and store it in your Pine address book. You can also assign a nickname to the address and use the nickname instead of the full address when composing a new message.


Use the H command to view the normally hidden message header lines. At first glance, it's a lot of gobbledygook, but the Received lines will tell you the path a message traveled to reach your system. This can be handy for identifying forged sender addresses. Press H again to turn off the display of the header lines.

Forward and Bounce

The F command lets you forward messages to other users. The message composition screen appears as usual, with the forwarded message pasted into the message text area. You can add your own comments before sending.

The B command will "bounce" a message to another user with no opportunity to add comments. If the recipient's mail system complies with standards, it will appear as if the message came from the original sendernot from you. This is handy when you get mail that was obviously meant for someone else and you want to quietly redirect it.

Export and Pipe

The E command will export a message to a file in your home directory. This is useful if someone sends you a file that you want to save and edit, or if you receive a uuencoded or encrypted message. (See "Compression, Encoding, and Encryption" for more on decoding and decryption.)

The | (vertical bar) command will pipe a message directly to any command or program. For example, you could use this feature to pipe a message to a program that strips off mail headers and formats notes for printing.


Pine has excellent support for attached files. You can attach a binary file such as a program, image, or word processor document to an outgoing message using the ctrl-J command while the cursor is on the Attchmnt: line in the message composition screen. Pine encodes the attached file using MIME (Multi-purpose Internet Mail Enhancements), which is a widely used standard understood by most modern email programs.

Pine can also decode incoming MIME-attached files and either save them to disk or automatically launch the appropriate viewer tools. I used Pine to send Microsoft Word files back and forth to my publisher in the course of writing this book.


Pine allows you to play different roles, depending on who you are replying to. For example, if you are replying to a message addressed to [email protected], you may be acting as a customer service rep. That role may require that you use a different return address and/or a different signature.

Roles are optional, but if you set up roles, they work like this: Each role has a set of patterns that are used to decide which role is used and a set of actions that are taken when that role is used. When you reply to a message, the From, To, and Subject fields of the original message are compared to your role patterns. If a match is found, the matching role's actions are taken. These actions could include changing the From line, inserting a special template into the message body, or using an alternative signature file. There's a comprehensive section in the Pine help if you're interested in learning more about roles.

HTML Email and Hotlinks

With the most recent release of Pine, you can now view HTML email messages directly without exporting them to a file and viewing them with a browser. Pine does a pretty good job of rendering the HTML, minus the color and special fonts.

Pine can also recognize URLs (Web hotlinks) in your email and launch a browser to view them, but you have to explicitly enable this feature to make it work. From the Pine main menu, press S (for Setup) and then C (for Config). Find the Viewer Preferences section and turn on these two options:

[X] enable-msg-view-urls
[X] enable-msg-view-web-hostnames

Then go all the way down to the bottom of the Config screen and set the following:

url-viewers = /usr/bin/lynx


url-viewers = /usr/bin/netscape

Now when you view a message, the up and down arrow keys will highlight the URLs in the message. Just press enter, and the browser you defined will launch and display the Web page at the selected URL.


The built-in help for Pine is excellent, so if you're interested in learning more, just press the ? key from any screen. You can also visit the Pine Information Center online at for additional help or to download new versions of Pine.

For more information on the pine command, see the pine manual.

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Comments - most recent first
(Please feel free to answer questions posted by others!)

Allen Tafirenyika     (18 Oct 2012, 10:05)
am using linux i would like to keep a copy of my outgoing and incoming mail on my linux server once l receive it on my laptop. what commands should l use? many thanks.
amandeep     (27 Dec 2010, 02:51)
Following Links are not working So PLZ....
Sending E-mail ,Reading E-mail and Other mail Commands

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