Sending Mail

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Figure: xmh message composition window


Let's get started by sending a message to yourself (you can send it to someone else, as well, but you'll need the message, too). Here are the steps:

  1. Go to the command menu bar and pull down the Message menu. Select the Compose Message command. A new window such as the one in the Figure above will open. (The Figure Composition window with finished message shows the filled-in draft.)

    If you've used the GNU Emacs editor before, the commands in this window are a subset of those familiar commands. In this window, a text caret (^) shows where the text you type will be placed.

    When you first open the composition window, the caret will usually be to the right of the To: field in the header -- ready for you to type the address where you want to send the message. If the caret (^) isn't there, move it there. An easy way to move the text caret is by pointing with the mouse and clicking the first mouse button. You can also move it by pressing the arrow keys, if your keyboard has them. The GNU Emacs-like commands CTRL-F, CTRL-B, CTRL-P, and CTRL-N work too. For a complete list, see the Table xmh Text Editing Commands: Moving.

    Type your username (login name) after the To:. This will address the message to you. If you want to add someone else to the end of the To: field, type a comma (,) and the other person's username. The Section Addressing Email has more information.

    People listed on the cc: field will get a "courtesy" (or "carbon") copy of your message. By convention, the message is especially meant for the people in the To: field, and people in the cc: field are getting the message "for information." In this exercise, please leave cc: empty.

  2. Press the "next-line" command, CTRL-N, twice to go to the right-hand side of the Subject: field. If you need to move to the end of the line, use CTRL-E or the arrow keys.

    Type a subject for the message. The people who receive your message can get a quick idea about its contents from the subject, so it's a good idea to spend a moment to think of a descriptive one. For now, type anything you feel like.

  3. Before you go on, be sure that you didn't leave any empty lines in the header. (By empty, I don't mean a field with just a label, like Cc:. I mean a completely empty line, with no text on it -- these confuse MH.) If you did, move the cursor back to it (CTRL-P goes to the previous line) and delete it by pressing the DELETE key until the cursor moves back to the end of the previous line.
  4. After you type the Subject:, use the next-line command twice (type CTRL-N twice) to move to the start of the message body. Notice that the cursor won't move past the end of a line where you haven't typed anything. (In other words, you can't create spaces at the end of a line just by moving the cursor there. If you want to move past the end of a line, use the space bar.)

    Now you can type your message. To move backward and forward along a line, use CTRL-B and CTRL-F (or the arrow keys). As you type, when the cursor gets to the right-hand side of a line, it'll "word wrap" -- move automatically to the start of the next line. To leave a blank line (at the end of a paragraph), press RETURN (or ENTER).

    Your window should look approximately like the Figure below.

    Figure: Composition window with finished message


  5. If you're happy with the message, you can send it by pointing to the Send button at the bottom of the window and clicking the first mouse button. When the message has been sent, the Send button will turn gray. Use the Close Window button to get back to the master xmh window.

    Or, if you're not happy with the message, just click the Close Window button without first clicking Send. After xmh asks for confirmation, as in the Figure below, you'll be back at the master xmh window without saving or sending.

Figure: Closing composition window without saving or sending


Practice sending yourself another few messages. Make one fairly long -- 30 lines or so. You might type a few lines -- then use your mouse to copy the lines and paste them in again a few times. There's more about cutting and pasting in Section Copy and Paste.

NOTE: If you make your composition wider than 80 characters (in the font you're using), the lines in the message you send can be too wide. Resize your window to 80 characters or less (The Figure Master xmh window before using grips to change sizes shows an easy way to check the width: Type a series of numbers from 1 to 0 eight times for 80 columns). Then use the META-Q command to rewrap your paragraphs. The Section Line Wrapping covers xmh line wrapping.

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Last change $Date: 1996/06/06 15:14:09 $

This file is from the third edition of the book MH & xmh: Email for Users & Programmers, ISBN 1-56592-093-7, by Jerry Peek. Copyright © 1991, 1992, 1995 by O'Reilly & Associates, Inc. This file is freely-available; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation. For more information, see the file copying.htm.

Suggestions are welcome: Jerry Peek <>