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Using the Pine Mail Program

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pine is a Unix mail reader you can use to check your mail when logged in by Telnet/SSH (after logging in, simply type 'pine' and hit return). While it currently does not have strong support for enhanced mail formatting, it is useful in that your mail is stored on the server and can thus be accessed from multiple locations.


The above screenshot shows the main menu of pine. You can make selections either by using the up/down arrows and pressing enter, or by pressing the letter/symbol shown at the left for each option. From this screen, extensive built-in help is available by pressing the ? key.

The options you are most likely to use are "C" (compose message), "L" (list mail folders), and "I" (view messages in current folder). When listing folders or messages, you can use the arrow keys to highlight an item, and the enter key to select it.


When choosing "C" to compose mail, you'll be taken to a screen like the one in the screenshot above. After filling out the To/CC/Subject information, the lower part of the screen is used to enter your message with the easy-to-use pico text editor.

Commands are sent to pico by hitting the Control key and a letter. Here are some common commands for editing mail with pine/pico:

1.Ctrl-O - postpone message for continuation at a later time
2.Ctrl-C - cancel message
3.Ctrl-X - send message
4.Ctrl-K - delete current line
5.Ctrl-U - undelete last deleted line(s)
6.Ctrl-R - include file from your account
7.Ctrl-G - access built-in help files

For further help, we highly recommend reading the included help files written by the software's authors.

More advanced users who are familiar with Unix may also choose to use the elm or mutt mail readers, which are also installed on all user servers.

Updated on July 23, 2019

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