The order of the first 2 items can vary, the last cannot.
A matter of preference: Specifying recipient (or generally any header
information) can happen before or after you edit your text.
Some prefer to enter header info in the compose menu, other prefer to
change them inside the editor along with the content/ body. In the
latter case, you can edit even non-standard headers.
Headers can be specified manually in the compose menu or automatically,
When you enter recipients, you either use mutt's internal address
management system called Aliases.
or you can use external databases and
commands to store and retrieve addressbooks. See QueryCommand and
QueryCommand/MuttLdapSearch for more.
Before you send a message, you must provide the recipient, a subject and
the content. There are two ways to provide content:
a previously edited text-file as STDIN on the command-line.
interactively typed in an editor invoked by mutt.
to fill: details for doing both.
This page will (at least for now) discuss possible options in the area
of sending mail and only sending mail. Big MTAs configuration such as
exim, postfix, qmail, etc, will not be treated here. Lets get started!
Mutt, by itself, cannot send mail (new in 1.5.14: it can). Unlike
programs like Thunderbird or Outlook, there is no built-in capability to
do anything outside of your machine. To the more technically inclined,
mutt does not speak SMTP (see MailConcept). But that is where the MSA
MSA Stands for Mail Sending Agent, and it does exactly what it says:
send mail. Do not get this confused with MTA (Mail Transfer Agent) -
MTAs both send and receive; or MUA (Mail User Agent) - an email
authoring program (which may also be a MSA, such as Thunderbird or
Outlook). When you send an email via mutt, mutt hands the message to the
MSA, which then delivers the mail to your ISP's mail server. Most MSAs
are very simple to configure and install, and usually need little or no
tweaking to the .muttrc.
See list of SendmailAgents (MSAs) that you may want to try, esmtp and
msmtp are popular. Check them _all_ out, and give feedback (here) how
well it works!
Mutt interaction with the local mail server
Many MUAs provide facilities to communicate directly with a remote
server, so that you don't need to have installed and running a local
server on the sending host. In those cases the mua communicates directly
with a mail server (using the SMTP/ESMTP protocol), when you specify to
do it (e.g. when you push a button like "send all").
Mutt, unless patched, doesn't provide such a facility, but it has to
generate a new mailer instance that will act as SMTP client in place of
mutt. (new in 1.5.14: it has).
The message generated by mutt is passed via STDIN to a new instance of
the mailer program (a mailer program such as sendmail, exim or postfix
act either as server and as client, although they're generally referred
as servers). This new instance will act as a SMTP client, and will
connect to the local server on port TCP 25 and will transmit this
message to the local server.
At this point the client process will terminate, and its return code
will be delivered to mutt.
Now the message has been transmitted to the local server, and it's
server duty to process the message and eventually transmit it to another
In this model the mua hasn't to know nothing about the SMTP protocol,
while it has to know (hopefully very well, like mutt) all about the
formatting of the message itself.
Setting the SMTP client to be used by mutt
You can define the program mutt will start for delivering the new
composed messages setting the sendmail variable.
A common setting is:
set sendmail="/usr/bin/sendmail -oi -oem" # how to deliver mail
The mail server (in this case sendmail) will receive the message in
input, and will parse it. In case of a malformed message, it will send
and error message to the user to whom belongs the mua trasmitting the
message (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org), and it will exit with a
non zero exit code: the -oem flag forces the returning of a non zero
exit code even in the case the error message has been successfully sent
to the local server. The -oi tells the sendmail instance not to
terminate the incoming message when is encountered a dot on a line by
itself, but will read instead all the messages up to the EOF. Both
options seem to be meaningful.
Please note that even if you're not using sendmail on your system this
command might work as well, since other mailers (exim, postfix) mimic
the sendmail command line interface, and their installation creates a
simbolic link named "/usr/bin/sendmail" pointing to their corresponding