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Looking Good, Feeling Better - Administration

Looking for an email client that offers superior performancewithout sacrificing on features? Take a look at Mutt, the planet's coolestmail client, from the perspective of a long-time fan and user, and find outwhat you've been missing.

  1. A Man And His Mutt
  2. Feature Overload
  3. Road Test
  4. Room With A View
  5. Don't Ask
  6. Looking Good, Feeling Better
  7. Three's A Crowd
  8. Reach Out And Touch Someone
  9. Hooking Up
  10. Beep Beep
  11. Webcrawling
By: Vikram Vaswani, (c) Melonfire
Rating: starstarstarstarstar / 9
December 04, 2001

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Mutt also allows you to control the display of email messages - you can weed out unwanted headers, colorize different sections of a message and decide which fields appear in the message index.

Let's take the headers first. Since I'm not usually interested in seeing all the message headers, I've used the following commands to weed out all but the most important ones:
ignore *                                          # weed out all headers
unignore date from: to cc subject organization    # now show me these...
Note, however, that I can still view the complete headers of any message by hitting
in the pager.

Next up, colors. Mutt allows you to highlight both your message list and different sections of individual messages with its "color" command. Take a look at the following commands, which tell Mutt to always highlight new messages in the index in bold:
color index brightwhite default ~N         # color for new messages
The first color is the foreground, the second is the background.

If you'd like to, you can also alter the color of Mutt's status bar
color status brightblue magenta          # ugh!
or even highlight signatures
color signature brightyellow black       # bumblebee
Within the message body, you can colorize different sections of the message - headers, quoted text, signatures, email addresses, URLs and the like. While this is a nice feature, it's now always as useful as you might think; when I tried it out, the various hues and shades distracted more than they assisted, and I ended up turning them off. Right now, all I use are the following commands, which highlight attachments and quoted text in yellow, search matches in red, and email addresses and URLs in light blue.
color attachment brightyellow default     # file attachments
color search brightred default           # search matches
color quoted brightyellow default        # quoted text in replies
color quoted1 magenta default            # quoted text in replies

color body cyan default "((ftp|http|https)://|news:)[^ >)\"\t]+" # URLs color body cyan default "[-a-z_0-9.+]+@[-a-z_0-9.]+" # email
You can customize the message display in the index with the "index_format" variable, which allows you to specify which elements to display in each message index line. The default setting is
set index_format="%4C %Z %{%b %d} %-15.15L (%4l) %s"      # format index
which translates to
set index_format="number status date sender lines subject"
Want a no-frills version? This one only displays the date, sender and subject:
set index_format="%{%b %d} %F (%s)"                       # format index
A complete list of formatting codes, together with what each means, is available in the Mutt manual - feel free to experiment with them until Mutt's displays contain exactly what you need.

Mutt also allows you to alter the attribution that appears when you forward or reply to a message. Setting the variable
set attribution="%n, who happens to be smarter than you, thinks:"
# format replies
adds the line
"John Doe, who happens to be smarter than you, thinks:"
to the top of every reply, while
set forward_format="Fw: %s"                # format forwarded messages
prefixes the letters "Fw: " to the subject line of forwarded messages.

>>> More Site Administration Articles          >>> More By Vikram Vaswani, (c) Melonfire

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