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How do I use the MH e-mail clients (nmh and exmh)?

nmh (which replaces the now-obsolete MH) is a command-line-oriented e-mail client which is highly customizable, but has a rather steep learning curve. Its documentation is linked from

exmh is a a TK-based graphical user interface for nmh. Documentation on how to use it can be found at

Both programs are available on all ENCS-managed Linux servers and desktops.

In both cases, one distinguishing feature of the programs is that they store one e-mail message per file, and a mail folder is a directory. This is in contrast to most other e-mail software, which stores all of the messages of a mail folder in a single file. This means that messages in nmh/exmh are plain text files that can be handled with familiar Unix utility programs, such as “grep”.

Because access to mail is via the filesystem, in order to read your messages, you must be logged into a host that has access to them. For all folders except “INBOX”, any ENCS-managed server or desktop will do, since your mail folders are (by default) on your Unix home directory in the subdirectory “Mail”. However, the standard mail spool (user INBOXes) are available only on “”. For how to deal with this, see below.


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