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This file documents Message, the Emacs message composition mode.

Copyright © 1996–2015 Free Software Foundation, Inc.

Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.3 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with the Front-Cover Texts being “A GNU Manual”, and with the Back-Cover Texts as in (a) below. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled “GNU Free Documentation License”.

(a) The FSF’s Back-Cover Text is: “You have the freedom to copy and modify this GNU manual.”

All message composition from Gnus (both mail and news) takes place in Message mode buffers.

Message is distributed with Gnus. The Gnus distribution corresponding to this manual is Ma Gnus v0.12

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1. Interface

When a program (or a person) wants to respond to a message—reply, follow up, forward, cancel—the program (or person) should just put point in the buffer where the message is and call the required command. Message will then pop up a new message mode buffer with appropriate headers filled out, and the user can edit the message before sending it.

You can customize the Message Mode tool bar, see M-x customize-apropos RET message-tool-bar. This feature is only available in Emacs.

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1.1 New Mail Message

The message-mail command pops up a new message buffer.

Two optional parameters are accepted: The first will be used as the To header and the second as the Subject header. If these are nil, those two headers will be empty.

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1.2 New News Message

The message-news command pops up a new message buffer.

This function accepts two optional parameters. The first will be used as the Newsgroups header and the second as the Subject header. If these are nil, those two headers will be empty.

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1.3 Reply

The message-reply function pops up a message buffer that’s a reply to the message in the current buffer.

Message uses the normal methods to determine where replies are to go (see section Responses), but you can change the behavior to suit your needs by fiddling with the message-reply-to-function variable.

If you want the replies to go to the Sender instead of the From, you could do something like this:

(setq message-reply-to-function
      (lambda ()
       (cond ((equal (mail-fetch-field "from") "somebody")
               (list (cons 'To (mail-fetch-field "sender"))))

This function will be called narrowed to the head of the article that is being replied to.

As you can see, this function should return a list. In this case, it returns ((To . "Whom")) if it has an opinion as to what the To header should be. If it does not, it should just return nil, and the normal methods for determining the To header will be used.

Each list element should be a cons, where the CAR should be the name of a header (e.g., Cc) and the CDR should be the header value (e.g., ‘larsi@ifi.uio.no’). All these headers will be inserted into the head of the outgoing mail.

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1.4 Wide Reply

The message-wide-reply pops up a message buffer that’s a wide reply to the message in the current buffer. A wide reply is a reply that goes out to all people listed in the To, From (or Reply-to) and Cc headers.

Message uses the normal methods to determine where wide replies are to go, but you can change the behavior to suit your needs by fiddling with the message-wide-reply-to-function. It is used in the same way as message-reply-to-function (see section Reply).

Addresses that match the message-dont-reply-to-names regular expression (or list of regular expressions) will be removed from the Cc header. A value of nil means exclude your name only.

message-prune-recipient-rules is used to prune the addresses used when doing a wide reply. It’s meant to be used to remove duplicate addresses and the like. It’s a list of lists, where the first element is a regexp to match the address to trigger the rule, and the second is a regexp that will be expanded based on the first, to match addresses to be pruned.

It’s complicated to explain, but it’s easy to use.

For instance, if you get an email from ‘foo@example.org’, but ‘foo@zot.example.org’ is also in the Cc list, then your wide reply will go out to both these addresses, since they are unique.

To avoid this, do something like the following:

(setq message-prune-recipient-rules
      '(("^\\([^@]+\\)@\\(.*\\)" "\\1@.*[.]\\2")))

If, for instance, you want all wide replies that involve messages from ‘cvs@example.org’ to go to that address, and nowhere else (i.e., remove all other recipients if ‘cvs@example.org’ is in the recipient list:

(setq message-prune-recipient-rules
      '(("cvs@example.org" ".")))

If message-wide-reply-confirm-recipients is non-nil you will be asked to confirm that you want to reply to multiple recipients. The default is nil.

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1.5 Followup

The message-followup command pops up a message buffer that’s a followup to the message in the current buffer.

Message uses the normal methods to determine where followups are to go, but you can change the behavior to suit your needs by fiddling with the message-followup-to-function. It is used in the same way as message-reply-to-function (see section Reply).

The message-use-followup-to variable says what to do about Followup-To headers. If it is use, always use the value. If it is ask (which is the default), ask whether to use the value. If it is t, use the value unless it is ‘poster’. If it is nil, don’t use the value.

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1.6 Canceling News

The message-cancel-news command cancels the article in the current buffer.

The value of message-cancel-message is inserted in the body of the cancel message. The default is ‘I am canceling my own article.’.

When Message posts news messages, it inserts Cancel-Lock headers by default. This is a cryptographic header that ensures that only you can cancel your own messages, which is nice. The downside is that if you lose your ‘.emacs’ file (which is where Gnus stores the secret cancel lock password (which is generated automatically the first time you use this feature)), you won’t be able to cancel your message. If you want to manage a password yourself, you can put something like the following in your ‘~/.gnus.el’ file:

(setq canlock-password "geheimnis"
      canlock-password-for-verify canlock-password)

Whether to insert the header or not is controlled by the message-insert-canlock variable.

Not many news servers respect the Cancel-Lock header yet, but this is expected to change in the future.

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1.7 Superseding

The message-supersede command pops up a message buffer that will supersede the message in the current buffer.

Headers matching the message-ignored-supersedes-headers are removed before popping up the new message buffer. The default is

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1.8 Forwarding

The message-forward command pops up a message buffer to forward the message in the current buffer. If given a prefix, forward using news.


In non-nil, all headers that match this regexp will be deleted when forwarding a message.


In non-nil, only headers that match this regexp will be kept when forwarding a message.


A list of functions that are called to generate a subject header for forwarded messages. The subject generated by the previous function is passed into each successive function.

The provided functions are:


Source of article (author or newsgroup), in brackets followed by the subject.


Subject of article with ‘Fwd:’ prepended to it.


If this variable is t, the subjects of forwarded messages have the evidence of previous forwards (such as ‘Fwd:’, ‘Re:’, ‘(fwd)’) removed before the new subject is constructed. The default value is nil.


If this variable is t (the default), forwarded messages are included as inline MIME RFC822 parts. If it’s nil, forwarded messages will just be copied inline to the new message, like previous, non MIME-savvy versions of Gnus would do.


If non-nil, put forwarded message before signature, else after.

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1.9 Resending

The message-resend command will prompt the user for an address and resend the message in the current buffer to that address.

Headers that match the message-ignored-resent-headers regexp will be removed before sending the message.

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1.10 Bouncing

The message-bounce command will, if the current buffer contains a bounced mail message, pop up a message buffer stripped of the bounce information. A bounced message is typically a mail you’ve sent out that has been returned by some mailer-daemon as undeliverable.

Headers that match the message-ignored-bounced-headers regexp will be removed before popping up the buffer. The default is ‘^\\(Received\\|Return-Path\\|Delivered-To\\):’.

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1.11 Mailing Lists

Sometimes while posting to mailing lists, the poster needs to direct followups to the post to specific places. The Mail-Followup-To (MFT) was created to enable just this. Three example scenarios where this is useful:

Gnus honors the MFT header in other’s messages (i.e., while following up to someone else’s post) and also provides support for generating sensible MFT headers for outgoing messages as well.

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1.11.1 Composing a correct MFT header automagically

The first step in getting Gnus to automagically generate a MFT header in posts you make is to give Gnus a list of the mailing lists addresses you are subscribed to. You can do this in more than one way. The following variables would come in handy.


This should be a list of addresses the user is subscribed to. Its default value is nil. Example:

(setq message-subscribed-addresses
      '("ding@gnus.org" "bing@noose.org"))

This should be a list of regexps denoting the addresses of mailing lists subscribed to. Default value is nil. Example: If you want to achieve the same result as above:

(setq message-subscribed-regexps

This can be a list of functions to be called (one at a time!!) to determine the value of MFT headers. It is advisable that these functions not take any arguments. Default value is nil.

There is a pre-defined function in Gnus that is a good candidate for this variable. gnus-find-subscribed-addresses is a function that returns a list of addresses corresponding to the groups that have the subscribed (see (gnus)Group Parameters section ‘Group Parameters’ in The Gnus Manual) group parameter set to a non-nil value. This is how you would do it.

(setq message-subscribed-address-functions

You might be one organized human freak and have a list of addresses of all subscribed mailing lists in a separate file! Then you can just set this variable to the name of the file and life would be good.

You can use one or more of the above variables. All their values are “added” in some way that works :-)

Now you are all set. Just start composing a message as you normally do. And just send it; as always. Just before the message is sent out, Gnus’ MFT generation thingy kicks in and checks if the message already has a MFT field. If there is one, it is left alone. (Except if it’s empty; in that case, the field is removed and is not replaced with an automatically generated one. This lets you disable MFT generation on a per-message basis.) If there is none, then the list of recipient addresses (in the To: and Cc: headers) is checked to see if one of them is a list address you are subscribed to. If none of them is a list address, then no MFT is generated; otherwise, a MFT is added to the other headers and set to the value of all addresses in To: and Cc:

Hm. “So”, you ask, “what if I send an email to a list I am not subscribed to? I want my MFT to say that I want an extra copy.” (This is supposed to be interpreted by others the same way as if there were no MFT, but you can use an explicit MFT to override someone else’s to-address group parameter.) The function message-generate-unsubscribed-mail-followup-to might come in handy. It is bound to C-c C-f C-a by default. In any case, you can insert a MFT of your own choice; C-c C-f C-m (message-goto-mail-followup-to) will help you get started.

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1.11.2 Honoring an MFT post

When you followup to a post on a mailing list, and the post has a MFT header, Gnus’ action will depend on the value of the variable message-use-mail-followup-to. This variable can be one of:


Always honor MFTs. The To: and Cc: headers in your followup will be derived from the MFT header of the original post. This is the default.


Always dishonor MFTs (just ignore the darned thing)


Gnus will prompt you for an action.

It is considered good netiquette to honor MFT, as it is assumed the fellow who posted a message knows where the followups need to go better than you do.

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2. Commands

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2.1 Buffer Entry

You most often end up in a Message buffer when responding to some other message of some sort. Message does lots of handling of quoted text, and may remove signatures, reformat the text, or the like—depending on which used settings you’re using. Message usually gets things right, but sometimes it stumbles. To help the user unwind these stumblings, Message sets the undo boundary before each major automatic action it takes. If you press the undo key (usually located at C-_) a few times, you will get back the un-edited message you’re responding to.

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2.2 Header Commands

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2.2.1 Commands for moving to headers

These following commands move to the header in question. If it doesn’t exist, it will be inserted.

C-c ?

Describe the message mode.

C-c C-f C-t

Go to the To header (message-goto-to).

C-c C-f C-o

Go to the From header (message-goto-from). (The “o” in the key binding is for Originator.)

C-c C-f C-b

Go to the Bcc header (message-goto-bcc).

C-c C-f C-w

Go to the Fcc header (message-goto-fcc).

C-c C-f C-c

Go to the Cc header (message-goto-cc).

C-c C-f C-s

Go to the Subject header (message-goto-subject).

C-c C-f C-r

Go to the Reply-To header (message-goto-reply-to).

C-c C-f C-n

Go to the Newsgroups header (message-goto-newsgroups).

C-c C-f C-d

Go to the Distribution header (message-goto-distribution).

C-c C-f C-f

Go to the Followup-To header (message-goto-followup-to).

C-c C-f C-k

Go to the Keywords header (message-goto-keywords).

C-c C-f C-u

Go to the Summary header (message-goto-summary).

C-c C-f C-i

This inserts the ‘Importance:’ header with a value of ‘high’. This header is used to signal the importance of the message to the receiver. If the header is already present in the buffer, it cycles between the three valid values according to RFC 1376: ‘low’, ‘normal’ and ‘high’.

C-c C-f C-a

Insert a reasonable ‘Mail-Followup-To:’ header (see section Mailing Lists) in a post to an unsubscribed list. When making original posts to a mailing list you are not subscribed to, you have to type in a ‘Mail-Followup-To:’ header by hand. The contents, usually, are the addresses of the list and your own address. This function inserts such a header automatically. It fetches the contents of the ‘To:’ header in the current mail buffer, and appends the current user-mail-address.

If the optional argument include-cc is non-nil, the addresses in the ‘Cc:’ header are also put into the ‘Mail-Followup-To:’ header.

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2.2.2 Commands to change headers

C-c C-o

Sort headers according to message-header-format-alist (message-sort-headers).

C-c C-t

Insert a To header that contains the Reply-To or From header of the message you’re following up (message-insert-to).

C-c C-n

Insert a Newsgroups header that reflects the Followup-To or Newsgroups header of the article you’re replying to (message-insert-newsgroups).

C-c C-l

Send a message to the list only. Remove all addresses but the list address from To: and Cc: headers.

C-c M-n

Insert a request for a disposition notification. (message-insert-disposition-notification-to). This means that if the recipient supports RFC 2298 she might send you a notification that she received the message.

M-x message-insert-importance-high

Insert an ‘Importance’ header with a value of ‘high’, deleting headers if necessary.

M-x message-insert-importance-low

Insert an ‘Importance’ header with a value of ‘low’, deleting headers if necessary.

C-c C-f s

Change the current ‘Subject’ header. Ask for new ‘Subject’ header and append ‘(was: <Old Subject>)’. The old subject can be stripped on replying, see message-subject-trailing-was-query (see section Message Headers).

C-c C-f x

Set up the ‘FollowUp-To’ header with a target newsgroup for a cross-post, add that target newsgroup to the ‘Newsgroups’ header if it is not a member of ‘Newsgroups’, and insert a note in the body. If message-cross-post-default is nil or if this command is called with a prefix-argument, only the ‘FollowUp-To’ header will be set but the target newsgroup will not be added to the ‘Newsgroups’ header. The function to insert a note is controlled by the message-cross-post-note-function variable.

C-c C-f t

Replace contents of ‘To’ header with contents of ‘Cc’ header (or the ‘Bcc’ header, if there is no ‘Cc’ header).

C-c C-f w

Insert ‘To’ and ‘Cc’ headers as if you were doing a wide reply even if the message was not made for a wide reply first.

C-c C-f a

Insert ‘X-No-Archive: Yes’ in the header and a note in the body. The header and the note can be customized using message-archive-header and message-archive-note. When called with a prefix argument, ask for a text to insert. If you don’t want the note in the body, set message-archive-note to nil.

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2.3 Movement

C-c C-b

Move to the beginning of the body of the message (message-goto-body).

C-c C-i

Move to the signature of the message (message-goto-signature).


If at beginning of header value, go to beginning of line, else go to beginning of header value. (The header value comes after the header name and the colon.) This behavior can be disabled by toggling the variable message-beginning-of-line.

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2.4 Insertion

C-c C-y

Yank the message that’s being replied to into the message buffer (message-yank-original).

C-c C-M-y

Prompt for a buffer name and yank the contents of that buffer into the message buffer (message-yank-buffer).

C-c C-q

Fill the yanked message (message-fill-yanked-message). Warning: Can severely mess up the yanked text if its quoting conventions are strange. You’ll quickly get a feel for when it’s safe, though. Anyway, just remember that C-x u (undo) is available and you’ll be all right.

C-c C-w

Insert a signature at the end of the buffer (message-insert-signature).

C-c M-h

Insert the message headers (message-insert-headers).

C-c M-m

Mark some region in the current article with enclosing tags. See message-mark-insert-begin and message-mark-insert-end. When called with a prefix argument, use slrn style verbatim marks (‘#v+’ and ‘#v-’).

C-c M-f

Insert a file in the current article with enclosing tags. See message-mark-insert-begin and message-mark-insert-end. When called with a prefix argument, use slrn style verbatim marks (‘#v+’ and ‘#v-’).

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2.5 MIME

Message is a MIME-compliant posting agent. The user generally doesn’t have to do anything to make the MIME happen—Message will automatically add the Content-Type and Content-Transfer-Encoding headers.

The most typical thing users want to use the multipart things in MIME for is to add “attachments” to mail they send out. This can be done with the C-c C-a command (M-x mml-attach-file), which will prompt for a file name and a MIME type.

If your Emacs supports drag and drop, you can also drop the file in the Message buffer. The variable mml-dnd-protocol-alist specifies what kind of action is done when you drop a file into the Message buffer. The variable mml-dnd-attach-options controls which MIME options you want to specify when dropping a file. If it is a list, valid members are type, description and disposition. disposition implies type. If it is nil, don’t ask for options. If it is t, ask the user whether or not to specify options.

You can also create arbitrarily complex multiparts using the MML language (see (emacs-mime)Composing section ‘Composing’ in The Emacs MIME Manual).

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2.6 IDNA

IDNA is a standard way to encode non-ASCII domain names into a readable ASCII string. The details can be found in RFC 3490.

Message is a IDNA-compliant posting agent. The user generally doesn’t have to do anything to make the IDNA happen—Message will encode non-ASCII domain names in From, To, and Cc headers automatically.

Until IDNA becomes more well known, Message queries you whether IDNA encoding of the domain name really should occur. Some users might not be aware that domain names can contain non-ASCII now, so this gives them a safety net if they accidentally typed a non-ASCII domain name.

The message-use-idna variable control whether IDNA is used. If the variable is nil no IDNA encoding will ever happen, if it is set to the symbol ask the user will be queried, and if set to t (which is the default if IDNA is fully available) IDNA encoding happens automatically.

If you want to experiment with the IDNA encoding, you can invoke M-x message-idna-to-ascii-rhs RET in the message buffer to have the non-ASCII domain names encoded while you edit the message.

Note that you must have GNU Libidn installed in order to use this functionality.

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2.7 Security

Using the MML language, Message is able to create digitally signed and digitally encrypted messages. Message (or rather MML) currently support PGP (RFC 1991), PGP/MIME (RFC 2015/3156) and S/MIME.

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2.7.1 Signing and encrypting commands

Instructing MML to perform security operations on a MIME part is done using the C-c C-m s key map for signing and the C-c C-m c key map for encryption, as follows.

C-c C-m s s

Digitally sign current message using S/MIME.

C-c C-m s o

Digitally sign current message using PGP.

C-c C-m s p

Digitally sign current message using PGP/MIME.

C-c C-m c s

Digitally encrypt current message using S/MIME.

C-c C-m c o

Digitally encrypt current message using PGP.

C-c C-m c p

Digitally encrypt current message using PGP/MIME.

C-c C-m C-n

Remove security related MML tags from message.

These commands do not immediately sign or encrypt the message, they merely insert the proper MML secure tag to instruct the MML engine to perform that operation when the message is actually sent. They may perform other operations too, such as locating and retrieving a S/MIME certificate of the person you wish to send encrypted mail to. When the mml parsing engine converts your MML into a properly encoded MIME message, the secure tag will be replaced with either a part or a multipart tag. If your message contains other mml parts, a multipart tag will be used; if no other parts are present in your message a single part tag will be used. This way, message mode will do the Right Thing (TM) with signed/encrypted multipart messages.

Since signing and especially encryption often is used when sensitive information is sent, you may want to have some way to ensure that your mail is actually signed or encrypted. After invoking the above sign/encrypt commands, it is possible to preview the raw article by using C-u C-c RET P (mml-preview). Then you can verify that your long rant about what your ex-significant other or whomever actually did with that funny looking person at that strange party the other night, actually will be sent encrypted.

Note! Neither PGP/MIME nor S/MIME encrypt/signs RFC822 headers. They only operate on the MIME object. Keep this in mind before sending mail with a sensitive Subject line.

By default, when encrypting a message, Gnus will use the “signencrypt” mode, which means the message is both signed and encrypted. If you would like to disable this for a particular message, give the mml-secure-message-encrypt-* command a prefix argument, e.g., C-u C-c C-m c p.

Actually using the security commands above is not very difficult. At least not compared with making sure all involved programs talk with each other properly. Thus, we now describe what external libraries or programs are required to make things work, and some small general hints.

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2.7.2 Using S/MIME

Note! This section assume you have a basic familiarity with modern cryptography, S/MIME, various PKCS standards, OpenSSL and so on.

The S/MIME support in Message (and MML) require OpenSSL. OpenSSL performs the actual S/MIME sign/encrypt operations. OpenSSL can be found at http://www.openssl.org/. OpenSSL 0.9.6 and later should work. Version 0.9.5a cannot extract mail addresses from certificates, and it insert a spurious CR character into MIME separators so you may wish to avoid it if you would like to avoid being regarded as someone who send strange mail. (Although by sending S/MIME messages you’ve probably already lost that contest.)

To be able to send encrypted mail, a personal certificate is not required. Message (MML) need a certificate for the person to whom you wish to communicate with though. You’re asked for this when you type C-c C-m c s. Currently there are two ways to retrieve this certificate, from a local file or from DNS. If you chose a local file, it need to contain a X.509 certificate in PEM format. If you chose DNS, you’re asked for the domain name where the certificate is stored, the default is a good guess. To my belief, Message (MML) is the first mail agent in the world to support retrieving S/MIME certificates from DNS, so you’re not likely to find very many certificates out there. At least there should be one, stored at the domain simon.josefsson.org. LDAP is a more popular method of distributing certificates, support for it is planned. (Meanwhile, you can use ldapsearch from the command line to retrieve a certificate into a file and use it.)

As for signing messages, OpenSSL can’t perform signing operations without some kind of configuration. Especially, you need to tell it where your private key and your certificate is stored. MML uses an Emacs interface to OpenSSL, aptly named smime.el, and it contain a custom group used for this configuration. So, try M-x customize-group RET smime RET and look around.

Currently there is no support for talking to a CA (or RA) to create your own certificate. None is planned either. You need to do this manually with OpenSSL or using some other program. I used Netscape and got a free S/MIME certificate from one of the big CA’s on the net. Netscape is able to export your private key and certificate in PKCS #12 format. Use OpenSSL to convert this into a plain X.509 certificate in PEM format as follows.

$ openssl pkcs12 -in ns.p12 -clcerts -nodes > key+cert.pem

The ‘key+cert.pem’ file should be pointed to from the smime-keys variable. You should now be able to send signed mail.

Note! Your private key is now stored unencrypted in the file, so take care in handling it. Storing encrypted keys on the disk are supported, and Gnus will ask you for a passphrase before invoking OpenSSL. Read the OpenSSL documentation for how to achieve this. If you use unencrypted keys (e.g., if they are on a secure storage, or if you are on a secure single user machine) simply press RET at the passphrase prompt.

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2.7.3 Using PGP/MIME

PGP/MIME requires an external OpenPGP implementation, such as GNU Privacy Guard. Pre-OpenPGP implementations such as PGP 2.x and PGP 5.x are also supported. The default Emacs interface to the PGP implementation is EasyPG (see (epa)Top section ‘EasyPG Assistant User’s Manual’ in EasyPG Assistant User’s Manual), but PGG (see (pgg)Top section ‘PGG’ in PGG Manual) and Mailcrypt are also supported. See section Compatibility with older implementations.

Message internally calls GnuPG (the gpg command) to perform data encryption, and in certain cases (decrypting or signing for example), gpg requires user’s passphrase. Currently the recommended way to supply your passphrase to gpg is to use the gpg-agent program.

To use gpg-agent in Emacs, you need to run the following command from the shell before starting Emacs.

eval `gpg-agent --daemon`

This will invoke gpg-agent and set the environment variable GPG_AGENT_INFO to allow gpg to communicate with it. It might be good idea to put this command in your ‘.xsession’ or ‘.bash_profile’. See (gnupg)Invoking GPG-AGENT section ‘Invoking GPG-AGENT’ in Using the GNU Privacy Guard.

Once your gpg-agent is set up, it will ask you for a passphrase as needed for gpg. Under the X Window System, you will see a new passphrase input dialog appear. The dialog is provided by PIN Entry (the pinentry command), and as of version 0.7.2, pinentry cannot cooperate with Emacs on a single tty. So, if you are using a text console, you may need to put a passphrase into gpg-agent’s cache beforehand. The following command does the trick.

gpg --use-agent --sign < /dev/null > /dev/null

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2.7.4 Compatibility with older implementations

Note, if you are using the gpg.el you must make sure that the directory specified by gpg-temp-directory have permissions 0700.

Creating your own key is described in detail in the documentation of your PGP implementation, so we refer to it.

If you have imported your old PGP 2.x key into GnuPG, and want to send signed and encrypted messages to your fellow PGP 2.x users, you’ll discover that the receiver cannot understand what you send. One solution is to use PGP 2.x instead (e.g., if you use pgg, set pgg-default-scheme to pgp). You could also convince your fellow PGP 2.x users to convert to GnuPG. As a final workaround, you can make the sign and encryption work in two steps; separately sign, then encrypt a message. If you would like to change this behavior you can customize the mml-signencrypt-style-alist variable. For example:

(setq mml-signencrypt-style-alist '(("smime" separate)
                                    ("pgp" separate)
                                    ("pgpauto" separate)
                                    ("pgpmime" separate)))

This causes to sign and encrypt in two passes, thus generating a message that can be understood by PGP version 2.

(Refer to http://www.gnupg.org/gph/en/pgp2x.html for more information about the problem.)

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2.8 Various Commands

C-c C-r

Caesar rotate (aka. rot13) the current message (message-caesar-buffer-body). If narrowing is in effect, just rotate the visible portion of the buffer. A numerical prefix says how many places to rotate the text. The default is 13.

C-c C-e

Elide the text between point and mark (message-elide-region). The text is killed and replaced with the contents of the variable message-elide-ellipsis. The default value is to use an ellipsis (‘[...]’).

This is a format-spec string, and you can use ‘%l’ to say how many lines were removed, and ‘%c’ to say how many characters were removed.

C-c M-k

Kill the address under point.

C-c C-z

Kill all the text up to the signature, or if that’s missing, up to the end of the message (message-kill-to-signature).

C-c C-v

Delete all text in the body of the message that is outside the region (message-delete-not-region).


Insert four newlines, and then reformat if inside quoted text.

Here’s an example:

> This is some quoted text.  And here's more quoted text.

If point is before ‘And’ and you press M-RET, you’ll get:

> This is some quoted text.


> And here's more quoted text.

*’ says where point will be placed.

C-c M-r

Rename the buffer (message-rename-buffer). If given a prefix, prompt for a new buffer name.


If message-tab-body-function is non-nil, execute the function it specifies. Otherwise use the function bound to TAB in text-mode-map or global-map.

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2.9 Sending

C-c C-c

Send the message and bury the current buffer (message-send-and-exit).

C-c C-s

Send the message (message-send).

C-c C-d

Bury the message buffer and exit (message-dont-send).

C-c C-k

Kill the message buffer and exit (message-kill-buffer).

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2.10 Mail Aliases

The message-mail-alias-type variable controls what type of mail alias expansion to use. Currently two forms are supported: mailabbrev and ecomplete. If this variable is nil, no mail alias expansion will be performed.

mailabbrev works by parsing the ‘/etc/mailrc’ and ‘~/.mailrc’ files. These files look like:

alias lmi "Lars Magne Ingebrigtsen <larsi@ifi.uio.no>"
alias ding "ding@ifi.uio.no (ding mailing list)"

After adding lines like this to your ‘~/.mailrc’ file, you should be able to just write ‘lmi’ in the To or Cc (and so on) headers and press SPC to expand the alias.

No expansion will be performed upon sending of the message—all expansions have to be done explicitly.

If you’re using ecomplete, all addresses from To and Cc headers will automatically be put into the ‘~/.ecompleterc’ file. When you enter text in the To and Cc headers, ecomplete will check out the values stored there and “electrically” say what completions are possible. To choose one of these completions, use the M-n command to move down to the list. Use M-n and M-p to move down and up the list, and RET to choose a completion.

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2.11 Spelling

There are two popular ways to have Emacs spell-check your messages: ispell and flyspell. ispell is the older and probably more popular package. You typically first write the message, and then run the entire thing through ispell and fix all the typos. To have this happen automatically when you send a message, put something like the following in your ‘.emacs’ file:

(add-hook 'message-send-hook 'ispell-message)

If you’re in the habit of writing in different languages, this can be controlled by the ispell-message-dictionary-alist variable:

(setq ispell-message-dictionary-alist
      '(("^Newsgroups:.*\\bde\\." . "deutsch8")
        (".*" . "default")))

ispell depends on having the external ‘ispell’ command installed.

The other popular method is using flyspell. This package checks your spelling while you’re writing, and marks any mis-spelled words in various ways.

To use flyspell, put something like the following in your ‘.emacs’ file:

(defun my-message-setup-routine ()
  (flyspell-mode 1))
(add-hook 'message-setup-hook 'my-message-setup-routine)

flyspell depends on having the external ‘ispell’ command installed.

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3. Variables

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3.1 Message Headers

Message is quite aggressive on the message generation front. It has to be—it’s a combined news and mail agent. To be able to send combined messages, it has to generate all headers itself (instead of letting the mail/news system do it) to ensure that mail and news copies of messages look sufficiently similar.


If t, generate all required headers before starting to compose the message. This can also be a list of headers to generate:

(setq message-generate-headers-first

The variables message-required-headers, message-required-mail-headers and message-required-news-headers specify which headers are required.

Note that some headers will be removed and re-generated before posting, because of the variable message-deletable-headers (see below).


When running Message from Gnus, the message buffers are associated with a draft group. message-draft-headers says which headers should be generated when a draft is written to the draft group.


Specifies how From headers should look. There are four valid values:


Just the address—‘king@grassland.com’.


king@grassland.com (Elvis Parsley)’.


Elvis Parsley <king@grassland.com>’.


Look like angles if that doesn’t require quoting, and parens if it does. If even parens requires quoting, use angles anyway.


Headers in this list that were previously generated by Message will be deleted before posting. Let’s say you post an article. Then you decide to post it again to some other group, you naughty boy, so you jump back to the ‘*post-buf*’ buffer, edit the Newsgroups line, and ship it off again. By default, this variable makes sure that the old generated Message-ID is deleted, and a new one generated. If this isn’t done, the entire empire would probably crumble, anarchy would prevail, and cats would start walking on two legs and rule the world. Allegedly.


Header lines to be inserted in outgoing messages before you edit the message, so you can edit or delete their lines. If set to a string, it is directly inserted. If set to a function, it is called and its result is inserted.


Responses to messages have subjects that start with ‘Re: ’. This is not an abbreviation of the English word “response”, but is Latin, and means “in response to”. Some illiterate nincompoops have failed to grasp this fact, and have “internationalized” their software to use abominations like ‘Aw: ’ (“antwort”) or ‘Sv: ’ (“svar”) instead, which is meaningless and evil. However, you may have to deal with users that use these evil tools, in which case you may set this variable to a regexp that matches these prefixes. Myself, I just throw away non-compliant mail.

Here’s an example of a value to deal with these headers when responding to a message:

(setq message-subject-re-regexp
       "^[ \t]*"
             "[Aa][Nn][Tt][Ww]\\.?\\|"     ; antw
             "[Aa][Ww]\\|"                 ; aw
             "[Ff][Ww][Dd]?\\|"            ; fwd
             "[Oo][Dd][Pp]\\|"             ; odp
             "[Rr][Ee]\\|"                 ; re
             "[Rr][\311\351][Ff]\\.?\\|"   ; ref
             "[Ss][Vv]"                    ; sv
           "*:[ \t]*"
       "*[ \t]*"

Controls what to do with trailing ‘(was: <old subject>)’ in subject lines. If nil, leave the subject unchanged. If it is the symbol ask, query the user what to do. In this case, the subject is matched against message-subject-trailing-was-ask-regexp. If message-subject-trailing-was-query is t, always strip the trailing old subject. In this case, message-subject-trailing-was-regexp is used.


Regexp matching alternative email addresses. The first address in the To, Cc or From headers of the original article matching this variable is used as the From field of outgoing messages, replacing the default From value.

For example, if you have two secondary email addresses john@home.net and john.doe@work.com and want to use them in the From field when composing a reply to a message addressed to one of them, you could set this variable like this:

(setq message-alternative-emails
      (regexp-opt '("john@home.net" "john.doe@work.com")))

This variable has precedence over posting styles and anything that runs off message-setup-hook.


Specifies what to do when there are no recipients other than Gcc or Fcc. If it is always, the posting is allowed. If it is never, the posting is not allowed. If it is ask (the default), you are prompted.


A regexp, a list of regexps, or a list where the first element is not and the rest are regexps. It says which headers to keep hidden when composing a message.

(setq message-hidden-headers
      '(not "From" "Subject" "To" "Cc" "Newsgroups"))

Headers are hidden using narrowing, you can use M-x widen to expose them in the buffer.


A list of lists of header synonyms. E.g., if this list contains a member list with elements Cc and To, then message-carefully-insert-headers will not insert a To header when the message is already Cced to the recipient.

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3.2 Mail Headers


See section News Headers, for the syntax of this variable. It is (From Subject Date (optional . In-Reply-To) Message-ID (optional . User-Agent)) by default.


Regexp of headers to be removed before mailing. The default is


This string is inserted at the end of the headers in all message buffers that are initialized as mail.


Variable that indicates whether ‘X-Hashcash’ headers should be computed for the message. See (gnus)Hashcash section ‘Hashcash’ in The Gnus Manual. If opportunistic, only generate the headers when it doesn’t lead to the user having to wait.

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3.3 Mail Variables


Function used to send the current buffer as mail. The default is message-send-mail-with-sendmail, or smtpmail-send-it according to the system. Other valid values include message-send-mail-with-mailclient, message-send-mail-with-mh, message-send-mail-with-qmail, message-smtpmail-send-it and feedmail-send-it.

The function message-send-mail-with-sendmail pipes your article to the sendmail binary for further queuing and sending. When your local system is not configured for sending mail using sendmail, and you have access to a remote SMTP server, you can set message-send-mail-function to smtpmail-send-it and make sure to setup the smtpmail package correctly. An example:

(setq message-send-mail-function 'smtpmail-send-it
      smtpmail-default-smtp-server "YOUR SMTP HOST")

To the thing similar to this, there is message-smtpmail-send-it. It is useful if your ISP requires the POP-before-SMTP authentication. See (gnus)POP before SMTP section ‘POP before SMTP’ in The Gnus Manual.

If you have a complex SMTP setup, and want some messages to go via one mail server, and other messages to go through another, you can use the ‘X-Message-SMTP-Method’ header. These are the supported values:

X-Message-SMTP-Method: smtp smtp.fsf.org 587

This will send the message via ‘smtp.fsf.org’, using port 587.

X-Message-SMTP-Method: smtp smtp.fsf.org 587 other-user

This is the same as the above, but uses ‘other-user’ as the user name when authenticating. This is handy if you have several SMTP accounts on the same server.

X-Message-SMTP-Method: sendmail

This will send the message via the locally installed sendmail/exim/etc installation.


Most versions of MH doesn’t like being fed messages that contain the headers in this variable. If this variable is non-nil (which is the default), these headers will be removed before mailing when sending messages via MH. Set it to nil if your MH can handle these headers.


Location of the qmail-inject program.


Arguments passed to qmail-inject programs. This should be a list of strings, one string for each argument. It may also be a function.

E.g., if you wish to set the envelope sender address so that bounces go to the right place or to deal with listserv’s usage of that address, you might set this variable to '("-f" "you@some.where").


Non-nil means don’t add ‘-f username’ to the sendmail command line. Doing so would be even more evil than leaving it out.


When message-sendmail-f-is-evil is nil, this specifies the address to use in the SMTP envelope. If it is nil, use user-mail-address. If it is the symbol header, use the ‘From’ header of the message.


Set this to non-nil if the system’s mailer runs the header and body together. (This problem exists on SunOS 4 when sendmail is run in remote mode.) The value should be an expression to test whether the problem will actually occur.


The limitation of messages sent as message/partial. The lower bound of message size in characters, beyond which the message should be sent in several parts. If it is nil (which is the default), the size is unlimited.

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3.4 News Headers

message-required-news-headers a list of header symbols. These headers will either be automatically generated, or, if that’s impossible, they will be prompted for. The following symbols are valid:


This required header will be filled out with the result of the message-make-from function, which depends on the message-from-style, user-full-name, user-mail-address variables.


This required header will be prompted for if not present already.


This required header says which newsgroups the article is to be posted to. If it isn’t present already, it will be prompted for.


This optional header will be filled out depending on the message-user-organization variable. message-user-organization-file will be used if this variable is t. This variable can also be a string (in which case this string will be used), or it can be a function (which will be called with no parameters and should return a string to be used).


This optional header will be computed by Message.


This required header will be generated by Message. A unique ID will be created based on the date, time, user name (for the local part) and the domain part. For the domain part, message will look (in this order) at message-user-fqdn, system-name, mail-host-address and message-user-mail-address (i.e., user-mail-address) until a probably valid fully qualified domain name (FQDN) was found.


This optional header will be filled out according to the message-newsreader local variable.


This optional header is filled out using the Date and From header of the article being replied to.


This extremely optional header will be inserted according to the message-expires variable. It is highly deprecated and shouldn’t be used unless you know what you’re doing.


This optional header is filled out according to the message-distribution-function variable. It is a deprecated and much misunderstood header.


This extremely optional header should probably never be used. However, some very old servers require that this header is present. message-user-path further controls how this Path header is to look. If it is nil, use the server name as the leaf node. If it is a string, use the string. If it is neither a string nor nil, use the user name only. However, it is highly unlikely that you should need to fiddle with this variable at all.

In addition, you can enter conses into this list. The CAR of this cons should be a symbol. This symbol’s name is the name of the header, and the CDR can either be a string to be entered verbatim as the value of this header, or it can be a function to be called. This function should take no arguments, and return a string to be inserted. For instance, if you want to insert Mime-Version: 1.0, you should enter (Mime-Version . "1.0") into the list.

If the list contains a cons where the CAR of the cons is optional, the CDR of this cons will only be inserted if it is non-nil.

If you want to delete an entry from this list, the following Lisp snippet might be useful. Adjust accordingly if you want to remove another element.

(setq message-required-news-headers
      (delq 'Message-ID message-required-news-headers))

Other variables for customizing outgoing news articles:


Controls what syntax checks should not be performed on outgoing posts. To disable checking of long signatures, for instance, add

(signature . disabled)

to this list.

Valid checks are:


Check whether the article has an Approved header, which is something only moderators should include.


Check whether there are continuation header lines that don’t begin with whitespace.


Check for invalid characters.


Check whether the article is empty.


Check whether the newsgroups mentioned in the Newsgroups and Followup-To headers exist.


Check whether the From header seems nice.


Check whether there is any non-printable character in the body.


Check whether there is any invisible text in the buffer.


Check for too long header lines.


Check for too long lines in the body.


Check whether the Message-ID looks syntactically ok.


Check for the existence of multiple equal headers.


Check whether there is any new text in the messages.


Check whether the Newsgroups header exists and is not empty.


Check whether text follows last quoted portion.


Check whether the Newsgroups and Followup-to headers contains repeated group names.


Check whether the Reply-To header looks ok.


Insert a new Sender header if the From header looks odd.


Check for the existence of version and sendsys commands.


Check whether the domain part of the Message-ID header looks ok.


Check whether to add a Followup-to header to shorten the number of groups to post to.


Check the length of the signature.


Check for excessive size.


Check whether the Subject header exists and is not empty.


Check the subject for commands.


Check whether the Newsgroups and Followup-to headers are valid syntactically.

All these conditions are checked by default, except for sender for which the check is disabled by default if message-insert-canlock is non-nil (see section Canceling News).


Regexp of headers to be removed before posting. The default is


This string is inserted at the end of the headers in all message buffers that are initialized as news.

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3.5 News Variables


Function used to send the current buffer as news. The default is message-send-news.


Gnusish select method (see the Gnus manual for details) used for posting a prepared news message.

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3.6 Insertion Variables


The overall style to be used when replying to messages. This controls things like where the reply should be put relative to the original, how the citation is formatted, where the signature goes, etc.

Value is either nil (no variable overrides) or a let-style list of pairs (VARIABLE VALUE) to override default values.

See gnus-posting-styles to set this variable for specific groups. Presets to impersonate popular mail agents are available in the message-cite-style-* variables.


Where the reply should be positioned. Available styles are traditional to reply inline, above for top-posting, and below for bottom-posting


All headers that match this regexp will be removed from yanked messages. The default is ‘.’, which means that all headers will be removed.


Regexp matching the longest possible citation prefix on a line.


Function called to insert the citation line. The default is message-insert-citation-line, which will lead to citation lines that look like:

Hallvard B Furuseth <h.b.furuseth@usit.uio.no> writes:

Point will be at the beginning of the body of the message when this function is called.

Note that Gnus provides a feature where clicking on ‘writes:’ hides the cited text. If you change the citation line too much, readers of your messages will have to adjust their Gnus, too. See the variable gnus-cite-attribution-suffix. See (gnus)Article Highlighting section ‘Article Highlighting’ in The Gnus Manual, for details.


When you are replying to or following up an article, you normally want to quote the person you are answering. Inserting quoted text is done by yanking, and each line you yank will have message-yank-prefix prepended to it (except for quoted lines which use message-yank-cited-prefix and empty lines which use message-yank-empty-prefix). The default is ‘> ’.


When yanking text from an article which contains already cited text, each line will be prefixed with the contents of this variable. The default is ‘>’. See also message-yank-prefix.


When yanking text from an article, each empty line will be prefixed with the contents of this variable. The default is ‘>’. You can set this variable to an empty string to split the cited text into paragraphs automatically. See also message-yank-prefix.


Number of spaces to indent yanked messages.


Function for citing an original message. The default is message-cite-original, which simply inserts the original message and prepends ‘> ’ to each line. message-cite-original-without-signature does the same, but elides the signature.


Function for modifying a citation just inserted in the mail buffer. This can also be a list of functions. Each function can find the citation between (point) and (mark t). And each function should leave point and mark around the citation text as modified.


String to mark the beginning of some inserted text.


String to mark the end of some inserted text.


String to be inserted at the end of the message buffer. If t (which is the default), the message-signature-file file will be inserted instead. If a function, the result from the function will be used instead. If a form, the result from the form will be used instead. If this variable is nil, no signature will be inserted at all.


File containing the signature to be inserted at the end of the buffer. If a path is specified, the value of message-signature-directory is ignored, even if set. The default is ‘~/.signature’.


Name of directory containing signature files. Comes in handy if you have many such files, handled via Gnus posting styles for instance. If nil (the default), message-signature-file is expected to specify the directory if needed.


If t (the default value) an empty line is inserted before the signature separator.

Note that RFC1036bis says that a signature should be preceded by the three characters ‘-- ’ on a line by themselves. This is to make it easier for the recipient to automatically recognize and process the signature. So don’t remove those characters, even though you might feel that they ruin your beautiful design, like, totally.

Also note that no signature should be more than four lines long. Including ASCII graphics is an efficient way to get everybody to believe that you are silly and have nothing important to say.

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3.7 Various Message Variables


Symbol naming a MIME charset. Non-ASCII characters in messages are assumed to be encoded using this charset. The default is iso-8859-1 on non-MULE Emacsen; otherwise nil, which means ask the user. (This variable is used only on non-MULE Emacsen.) See (emacs-mime)Charset Translation section ‘Charset Translation’ in Emacs MIME Manual, for details on the MULE-to-MIME translation process.


Local value for the column beyond which automatic line-wrapping should happen for message buffers. If non-nil (the default), also turn on auto-fill in message buffers.


Regexp matching the signature separator. It is ‘^-- *$’ by default.


String used to separate the headers from the body. It is ‘--text follows this line--’ by default.


Directory used by many mailish things. The default is ‘~/Mail/’. All other mail file variables are derived from message-directory.


Directory where Message auto-saves buffers if Gnus isn’t running. If nil, Message won’t auto-save. The default is ‘~/Mail/drafts/’.


Hook run when initializing the message buffer. It is run after the headers have been inserted but before the signature has been inserted.


Hook run as the last thing when the message buffer has been initialized, but before yanked text is inserted.


Hook called narrowed to the headers after initializing the headers.

For instance, if you’re running Gnus and wish to insert a ‘Mail-Copies-To’ header in all your news articles and all messages you send to mailing lists, you could do something like the following:

(defun my-message-header-setup-hook ()
  (let ((group (or gnus-newsgroup-name "")))
    (when (or (message-fetch-field "newsgroups")
              (gnus-group-find-parameter group 'to-address)
              (gnus-group-find-parameter group 'to-list))
      (insert "Mail-Copies-To: never\n"))))

(add-hook 'message-header-setup-hook

Hook run before sending messages.

If you want to add certain headers before sending, you can use the message-add-header function in this hook. For instance:

(add-hook 'message-send-hook 'my-message-add-content)
(defun my-message-add-content ()
  (message-add-header "X-In-No-Sense: Nonsense")
  (message-add-header "X-Whatever: no"))

This function won’t add the header if the header is already present.


Hook run before sending mail messages. This hook is run very late: just before the message is actually sent as mail.


Hook run before sending news messages. This hook is run very late: just before the message is actually sent as news.


Hook run after sending messages.


Hook run when canceling news articles.


Syntax table used in message mode buffers.


If non-nil, don’t strip quoted text from articles that have ‘X-No-Archive’ set. Even if this variable isn’t set, you can undo the stripping by hitting the undo keystroke.


Emacs has a number of special text properties which can break message composing in various ways. If this option is set, message will strip these properties from the message composition buffer. However, some packages requires these properties to be present in order to work. If you use one of these packages, turn this option off, and hope the message composition doesn’t break too bad.


Alist of ways to send outgoing messages. Each element has the form:

(type predicate function)

A symbol that names the method.


A function called without any parameters to determine whether the message is a message of type type. The function will be called in the buffer where the message is.


A function to be called if predicate returns non-nil. function is called with one parameter—the prefix.

The default is:

((news message-news-p message-send-via-news)
 (mail message-mail-p message-send-via-mail))

The message-news-p function returns non-nil if the message looks like news, and the message-send-via-news function sends the message according to the message-send-news-function variable (see section News Variables). The message-mail-p function returns non-nil if the message looks like mail, and the message-send-via-mail function sends the message according to the message-send-mail-function variable (see section Mail Variables).

All the elements in this alist will be tried in order, so a message containing both a valid ‘Newsgroups’ header and a valid ‘To’ header, for example, will be sent as news, and then as mail.

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3.8 Sending Variables


A function called to save outgoing articles. This function will be called with the name of the file to store the article in. The default function is message-output which saves in Unix mailbox format.


When sending combined messages, this string is inserted at the start of the mailed copy. If the string contains the format spec ‘%s’, the newsgroups the article has been posted to will be inserted there. If this variable is nil, no such courtesy message will be added. The default value is ‘"The following message is a courtesy copy of an article\\nthat has been posted to %s as well.\\n\\n"’.


If nil, attach files as normal parts in Fcc copies; if it is non-nil, attach local files as external parts.


If non-nil wait for and display errors when sending a message; if nil let the mailer mail back a message to report errors.


When non-nil, Gnus will ask for confirmation when sending a message.

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3.9 Message Buffers

Message will generate new buffers with unique buffer names when you request a message buffer. When you send the message, the buffer isn’t normally killed off. Its name is changed and a certain number of old message buffers are kept alive.


Controls whether to create a new message buffer to compose a message. Valid values include:


Generate the buffer name in the Message way (e.g., *mail*, *news*, *mail to whom*, *news on group*, etc.) and continue editing in the existing buffer of that name. If there is no such buffer, it will be newly created.


Create the new buffer with the name generated in the Message way.


Similar to unique but the buffer name begins with "*unsent ".


Similar to nil but the buffer name is simpler like *mail message*.


If this is a function, call that function with three parameters: The type, the To address and the group name (any of these may be nil). The function should return the new buffer name.

The default value is unsent.


This variable says how many old message buffers to keep. If there are more message buffers than this, the oldest buffer will be killed. The default is 10. If this variable is nil, no old message buffers will ever be killed.


After sending a message, the buffer is renamed from, for instance, ‘*reply to Lars*’ to ‘*sent reply to Lars*’. If you don’t like this, set this variable to a function that renames the buffer in a manner you like. If you don’t want to rename the buffer at all, you can say:

(setq message-send-rename-function 'ignore)

If non-nil, kill the buffer immediately on exit.

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3.10 Message Actions

When Message is being used from a news/mail reader, the reader is likely to want to perform some task after the message has been sent. Perhaps return to the previous window configuration or mark an article as replied.

The user may exit from the message buffer in various ways. The most common is C-c C-c, which sends the message and exits. Other possibilities are C-c C-s which just sends the message, C-c C-d which postpones the message editing and buries the message buffer, and C-c C-k which kills the message buffer. Each of these actions have lists associated with them that contains actions to be executed: message-send-actions, message-exit-actions, message-postpone-actions, and message-kill-actions.

Message provides a function to interface with these lists: message-add-action. The first parameter is the action to be added, and the rest of the arguments are which lists to add this action to. Here’s an example from Gnus:

   `(set-window-configuration ,(current-window-configuration))
   'exit 'postpone 'kill)

This restores the Gnus window configuration when the message buffer is killed, postponed or exited.

An action can be either: a normal function, or a list where the CAR is a function and the CDR is the list of arguments, or a form to be evaled.

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4. Compatibility

Message uses virtually only its own variables—older mail- variables aren’t consulted. To force Message to take those variables into account, you can put the following in your ‘.emacs’ file:

(require 'messcompat)

This will initialize many Message variables from the values in the corresponding mail variables.

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5. Appendices

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5.1 Responses

To determine where a message is to go, the following algorithm is used by default.


A reply is when you want to respond just to the person who sent the message via mail. There will only be one recipient. To determine who the recipient will be, the following headers are consulted, in turn:

wide reply

A wide reply is a mail response that includes all entities mentioned in the message you are responding to. All mailboxes from the following headers will be concatenated to form the outgoing To/Cc headers:


(unless there’s a Reply-To, in which case that is used instead).


If a Mail-Copies-To header is present, it will also be included in the list of mailboxes. If this header is ‘never’, that means that the From (or Reply-To) mailbox will be suppressed.


A followup is a response sent via news. The following headers (listed in order of precedence) determine where the response is to be sent:


If a Mail-Copies-To header is present, it will be used as the basis of the new Cc header, except if this header is ‘never’.

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6. GNU Free Documentation License

Version 1.2, November 2002

Copyright (C) 2000,2001,2002  Free Software Foundation, Inc.
51 Franklin Street, Fifth Floor, Boston, MA  02110-1301  USA

Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim copies
of this license document, but changing it is not allowed.


    The purpose of this License is to make a manual, textbook, or other functional and useful document “free” in the sense of freedom: to assure everyone the effective freedom to copy and redistribute it, with or without modifying it, either commercially or noncommercially. Secondarily, this License preserves for the author and publisher a way to get credit for their work, while not being considered responsible for modifications made by others.

    This License is a kind of “copyleft,” which means that derivative works of the document must themselves be free in the same sense. It complements the GNU General Public License, which is a copyleft license designed for free software.

    We have designed this License in order to use it for manuals for free software, because free software needs free documentation: a free program should come with manuals providing the same freedoms that the software does. But this License is not limited to software manuals; it can be used for any textual work, regardless of subject matter or whether it is published as a printed book. We recommend this License principally for works whose purpose is instruction or reference.


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    The Free Software Foundation may publish new, revised versions of the GNU Free Documentation License from time to time. Such new versions will be similar in spirit to the present version, but may differ in detail to address new problems or concerns. See http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/.

    Each version of the License is given a distinguishing version number. If the Document specifies that a particular numbered version of this License “or any later version” applies to it, you have the option of following the terms and conditions either of that specified version or of any later version that has been published (not as a draft) by the Free Software Foundation. If the Document does not specify a version number of this License, you may choose any version ever published (not as a draft) by the Free Software Foundation.

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ADDENDUM: How to use this License for your documents

To use this License in a document you have written, include a copy of the License in the document and put the following copyright and license notices just after the title page:

Copyright (C)  year  your name.
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document
under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation;
with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts.
A copy of the license is included in the section entitled ``GNU
Free Documentation License.''

If you have Invariant Sections, Front-Cover Texts and Back-Cover Texts, replace the “with...Texts.” line with this:

with the Invariant Sections being list their titles, with the
Front-Cover Texts being list, and with the Back-Cover Texts being

If you have Invariant Sections without Cover Texts, or some other combination of the three, merge those two alternatives to suit the situation.

If your document contains nontrivial examples of program code, we recommend releasing these examples in parallel under your choice of free software license, such as the GNU General Public License, to permit their use in free software.

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7. Index

Jump to:   A   C   D   E   F   G   I   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S   U   X   Y  
Index Entry Section

aliases2.10 Mail Aliases
approved3.4 News Headers
attachment2.5 MIME
attribution line3.6 Insertion Variables
auto-fill3.7 Various Message Variables
Aw3.1 Message Headers

Cancel Locks1.6 Canceling News
canlock1.6 Canceling News
charset3.7 Various Message Variables
cited3.6 Insertion Variables
compatibility4. Compatibility
completion2.10 Mail Aliases
cross-post2.2.2 Commands to change headers

describe-mode2.2.1 Commands for moving to headers
Distribution3.4 News Headers

ecomplete2.10 Mail Aliases
encrypt2.7 Security
Expires3.4 News Headers

feedmail-send-it3.3 Mail Variables
From3.4 News Headers

gpg-agent2.7.3 Using PGP/MIME
gpg-temp-directory2.7.4 Compatibility with older implementations

i-did-not-set–mail-host-address–so-tickle-me3.4 News Headers
Importance2.2.2 Commands to change headers
Importance2.2.2 Commands to change headers
internationalized domain names2.6 IDNA
ispell-message2.11 Spelling
ispell-message-dictionary-alist2.11 Spelling

Lines3.4 News Headers
long lines3.4 News Headers

mail aliases2.10 Mail Aliases
Mail-Followup-To1.11 Mailing Lists
mail-header-separator3.7 Various Message Variables
mail-host-address3.4 News Headers
message-add-archive-header2.2.2 Commands to change headers
message-add-header3.7 Various Message Variables
message-allow-no-recipients3.1 Message Headers
message-alternative-emails3.1 Message Headers
message-archive-header2.2.2 Commands to change headers
message-archive-note2.2.2 Commands to change headers
message-auto-save-directory3.7 Various Message Variables
message-beginning-of-line2.3 Movement
message-bounce1.10 Bouncing
message-caesar-buffer-body2.8 Various Commands
message-cancel-hook3.7 Various Message Variables
message-cancel-message1.6 Canceling News
message-cancel-news1.6 Canceling News
message-change-subject2.2.2 Commands to change headers
message-citation-line-function3.6 Insertion Variables
message-cite-articles-with-x-no-archive3.7 Various Message Variables
message-cite-function3.6 Insertion Variables
message-cite-original3.6 Insertion Variables
message-cite-original-without-signature3.6 Insertion Variables
message-cite-prefix-regexp3.6 Insertion Variables
message-cite-reply-position3.6 Insertion Variables
message-cite-style3.6 Insertion Variables
message-confirm-send3.8 Sending Variables
message-courtesy-message3.8 Sending Variables
message-cross-post-default2.2.2 Commands to change headers
message-cross-post-followup-to2.2.2 Commands to change headers
message-cross-post-note-function2.2.2 Commands to change headers
message-default-charset3.7 Various Message Variables
message-default-headers3.1 Message Headers
message-default-mail-headers3.2 Mail Headers
message-default-news-headers3.4 News Headers
message-deletable-headers3.1 Message Headers
message-delete-not-region2.8 Various Commands
message-directory3.7 Various Message Variables
message-distribution-function3.4 News Headers
message-dont-reply-to-names1.4 Wide Reply
message-dont-send2.9 Sending
message-draft-headers3.1 Message Headers
message-elide-ellipsis2.8 Various Commands
message-elide-region2.8 Various Commands
message-exit-actions3.10 Message Actions
message-expires3.4 News Headers
message-fcc-externalize-attachments3.8 Sending Variables
message-fcc-handler-function3.8 Sending Variables
message-fill-column3.7 Various Message Variables
message-fill-yanked-message2.4 Insertion
message-followup1.5 Followup
message-followup-to-function1.5 Followup
message-forward1.8 Forwarding
message-forward-as-mime1.8 Forwarding
message-forward-before-signature1.8 Forwarding
message-forward-ignored-headers1.8 Forwarding
message-forward-included-headers1.8 Forwarding
message-forward-subject-author-subject1.8 Forwarding
message-from-style3.1 Message Headers
message-generate-hashcash3.2 Mail Headers
message-generate-headers-first3.1 Message Headers
message-generate-new-buffers3.9 Message Buffers
message-generate-unsubscribed-mail-followup-to1.11.1 Composing a correct MFT header automagically
message-generate-unsubscribed-mail-followup-to2.2.1 Commands for moving to headers
message-goto-bcc2.2.1 Commands for moving to headers
message-goto-body2.3 Movement
message-goto-cc2.2.1 Commands for moving to headers
message-goto-distribution2.2.1 Commands for moving to headers
message-goto-fcc2.2.1 Commands for moving to headers
message-goto-followup-to2.2.1 Commands for moving to headers
message-goto-from2.2.1 Commands for moving to headers
message-goto-keywords2.2.1 Commands for moving to headers
message-goto-mail-followup-to1.11.1 Composing a correct MFT header automagically
message-goto-newsgroups2.2.1 Commands for moving to headers
message-goto-reply-to2.2.1 Commands for moving to headers
message-goto-signature2.3 Movement
message-goto-subject2.2.1 Commands for moving to headers
message-goto-summary2.2.1 Commands for moving to headers
message-goto-to2.2.1 Commands for moving to headers
message-header-format-alist2.2.2 Commands to change headers
message-header-setup-hook3.7 Various Message Variables
message-header-synonyms3.1 Message Headers
message-hidden-headers3.1 Message Headers
Message-ID3.4 News Headers
message-idna-to-ascii-rhs2.6 IDNA
message-ignored-bounced-headers1.10 Bouncing
message-ignored-cited-headers3.6 Insertion Variables
message-ignored-mail-headers3.2 Mail Headers
message-ignored-news-headers3.4 News Headers
message-ignored-resent-headers1.9 Resending
message-ignored-supersedes-headers1.7 Superseding
message-indent-citation-function3.6 Insertion Variables
message-indentation-spaces3.6 Insertion Variables
message-insert-canlock1.6 Canceling News
message-insert-disposition-notification-to2.2.2 Commands to change headers
message-insert-headers2.4 Insertion
message-insert-importance-high2.2.2 Commands to change headers
message-insert-importance-low2.2.2 Commands to change headers
message-insert-newsgroups2.2.2 Commands to change headers
message-insert-or-toggle-importance2.2.1 Commands for moving to headers
message-insert-signature2.4 Insertion
message-insert-to2.2.2 Commands to change headers
message-insert-wide-reply2.2.2 Commands to change headers
message-interactive3.8 Sending Variables
message-kill-actions3.10 Message Actions
message-kill-address2.8 Various Commands
message-kill-buffer2.9 Sending
message-kill-buffer-on-exit3.9 Message Buffers
message-kill-to-signature2.8 Various Commands
message-mail1.1 New Mail Message
message-mail-alias-type2.10 Mail Aliases
message-mail-p3.7 Various Message Variables
message-mailer-swallows-blank-line3.3 Mail Variables
message-make-forward-subject-function1.8 Forwarding
message-mark-insert-begin3.6 Insertion Variables
message-mark-insert-end3.6 Insertion Variables
message-mark-insert-file2.4 Insertion
message-mark-inserted-region2.4 Insertion
message-max-buffers3.9 Message Buffers
message-mh-deletable-headers3.3 Mail Variables
message-mode-syntax-table3.7 Various Message Variables
message-newline-and-reformat2.8 Various Commands
message-news1.2 New News Message
message-news-p3.7 Various Message Variables
message-post-method3.5 News Variables
message-postpone-actions3.10 Message Actions
message-prune-recipient-rules1.4 Wide Reply
message-qmail-inject-args3.3 Mail Variables
message-qmail-inject-program3.3 Mail Variables
message-reduce-to-to-cc2.2.2 Commands to change headers
message-rename-buffer2.8 Various Commands
message-reply1.3 Reply
message-reply-to-function1.3 Reply
message-required-headers3.1 Message Headers
message-required-mail-headers3.2 Mail Headers
message-required-news-headers3.4 News Headers
message-resend1.9 Resending
message-send2.9 Sending
message-send-actions3.10 Message Actions
message-send-and-exit2.9 Sending
message-send-hook3.7 Various Message Variables
message-send-mail-function3.3 Mail Variables
message-send-mail-hook3.7 Various Message Variables
message-send-mail-partially-limit3.3 Mail Variables
message-send-mail-with-mailclient3.3 Mail Variables
message-send-mail-with-mh3.3 Mail Variables
message-send-mail-with-qmail3.3 Mail Variables
message-send-mail-with-sendmail3.3 Mail Variables
message-send-method-alist3.7 Various Message Variables
message-send-news-function3.5 News Variables
message-send-news-hook3.7 Various Message Variables
message-send-rename-function3.9 Message Buffers
message-send-via-mail3.7 Various Message Variables
message-send-via-news3.7 Various Message Variables
message-sendmail-envelope-from3.3 Mail Variables
message-sendmail-f-is-evil3.3 Mail Variables
message-sent-hook3.7 Various Message Variables
message-setup-hook3.7 Various Message Variables
message-signature3.6 Insertion Variables
message-signature-directory3.6 Insertion Variables
message-signature-file3.6 Insertion Variables
message-signature-insert-empty-line3.6 Insertion Variables
message-signature-separator3.7 Various Message Variables
message-signature-setup-hook3.7 Various Message Variables
message-smtpmail-send-it3.3 Mail Variables
message-sort-headers2.2.2 Commands to change headers
message-strip-special-text-properties3.7 Various Message Variables
message-subject-re-regexp3.1 Message Headers
message-subject-trailing-was-ask-regexp3.1 Message Headers
message-subject-trailing-was-query3.1 Message Headers
message-subject-trailing-was-regexp3.1 Message Headers
message-subscribed-address-file1.11.1 Composing a correct MFT header automagically
message-subscribed-address-functions1.11.1 Composing a correct MFT header automagically
message-subscribed-addresses1.11.1 Composing a correct MFT header automagically
message-subscribed-regexps1.11.1 Composing a correct MFT header automagically
message-supersede1.7 Superseding
message-syntax-checks3.4 News Headers
message-tab2.8 Various Commands
message-tab-body-function2.8 Various Commands
message-to-list-only2.2.2 Commands to change headers
message-use-followup-to1.5 Followup
message-use-idna2.6 IDNA
message-use-mail-followup-to1.11.2 Honoring an MFT post
message-user-fqdn3.4 News Headers
message-user-organization3.4 News Headers
message-user-organization-file3.4 News Headers
message-user-path3.4 News Headers
message-wash-forwarded-subjects1.8 Forwarding
message-wide-reply1.4 Wide Reply
message-wide-reply-confirm-recipients1.4 Wide Reply
message-wide-reply-to-function1.4 Wide Reply
message-yank-buffer2.4 Insertion
message-yank-cited-prefix3.6 Insertion Variables
message-yank-empty-prefix3.6 Insertion Variables
message-yank-original2.4 Insertion
message-yank-prefix3.6 Insertion Variables
Mime-Version3.4 News Headers
mml-attach-file2.5 MIME
mml-dnd-attach-options2.5 MIME
mml-dnd-protocol-alist2.5 MIME
mml-secure-message-encrypt-pgp2.7.1 Signing and encrypting commands
mml-secure-message-encrypt-pgpmime2.7.1 Signing and encrypting commands
mml-secure-message-encrypt-smime2.7.1 Signing and encrypting commands
mml-secure-message-sign-pgp2.7.1 Signing and encrypting commands
mml-secure-message-sign-pgpmime2.7.1 Signing and encrypting commands
mml-secure-message-sign-smime2.7.1 Signing and encrypting commands
mml-signencrypt-style-alist2.7.4 Compatibility with older implementations
mml-unsecure-message2.7.1 Signing and encrypting commands
multipart2.5 MIME

Newsgroups3.4 News Headers
non-ascii domain names2.6 IDNA

organization3.4 News Headers

path3.4 News Headers
PGP2.7 Security
PGP/MIME2.7 Security

qmail3.3 Mail Variables
quoting3.6 Insertion Variables
quoting3.6 Insertion Variables
quoting3.6 Insertion Variables

Re3.1 Message Headers

S/MIME2.7 Security
secure2.7 Security
Security2.7 Security
Sender3.4 News Headers
sendmail3.3 Mail Variables
sendsys3.4 News Headers
sign2.7 Security
smtpmail-send-it3.3 Mail Variables
spelling2.11 Spelling
split large message3.3 Mail Variables
Subject2.2.2 Commands to change headers
Subject3.4 News Headers
Sun3.4 News Headers
Sv3.1 Message Headers
system-name3.4 News Headers

undo2.1 Buffer Entry
User-Agent3.4 News Headers
user-full-name3.4 News Headers
user-mail-address3.4 News Headers

X-Message-SMTP-Method3.3 Mail Variables
X-No-Archive2.2.2 Commands to change headers
X-Post2.2.2 Commands to change headers

yanking3.6 Insertion Variables
yanking3.6 Insertion Variables
yanking3.6 Insertion Variables

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8. Key Index

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Index Entry Section

C-a2.3 Movement
C-c ?2.2.1 Commands for moving to headers
C-c C-a2.5 MIME
C-c C-b2.3 Movement
C-c C-c2.9 Sending
C-c C-d2.9 Sending
C-c C-e2.8 Various Commands
C-c C-f a2.2.2 Commands to change headers
C-c C-f C-a1.11.1 Composing a correct MFT header automagically
C-c C-f C-a2.2.1 Commands for moving to headers
C-c C-f C-b2.2.1 Commands for moving to headers
C-c C-f C-c2.2.1 Commands for moving to headers
C-c C-f C-d2.2.1 Commands for moving to headers
C-c C-f C-f2.2.1 Commands for moving to headers
C-c C-f C-i2.2.1 Commands for moving to headers
C-c C-f C-k2.2.1 Commands for moving to headers
C-c C-f C-m1.11.1 Composing a correct MFT header automagically
C-c C-f C-n2.2.1 Commands for moving to headers
C-c C-f C-o2.2.1 Commands for moving to headers
C-c C-f C-r2.2.1 Commands for moving to headers
C-c C-f C-s2.2.1 Commands for moving to headers
C-c C-f C-t2.2.1 Commands for moving to headers
C-c C-f C-u2.2.1 Commands for moving to headers
C-c C-f C-w2.2.1 Commands for moving to headers
C-c C-f s2.2.2 Commands to change headers
C-c C-f t2.2.2 Commands to change headers
C-c C-f w2.2.2 Commands to change headers
C-c C-f x2.2.2 Commands to change headers
C-c C-i2.3 Movement
C-c C-k2.9 Sending
C-c C-l2.2.2 Commands to change headers
C-c C-m c o2.7.1 Signing and encrypting commands
C-c C-m c p2.7.1 Signing and encrypting commands
C-c C-m c s2.7.1 Signing and encrypting commands
C-c C-m C-n2.7.1 Signing and encrypting commands
C-c C-m s o2.7.1 Signing and encrypting commands
C-c C-m s p2.7.1 Signing and encrypting commands
C-c C-m s s2.7.1 Signing and encrypting commands
C-c C-M-y2.4 Insertion
C-c C-n2.2.2 Commands to change headers
C-c C-o2.2.2 Commands to change headers
C-c C-q2.4 Insertion
C-c C-r2.8 Various Commands
C-c C-s2.9 Sending
C-c C-t2.2.2 Commands to change headers
C-c C-v2.8 Various Commands
C-c C-w2.4 Insertion
C-c C-y2.4 Insertion
C-c C-z2.8 Various Commands
C-c M-f2.4 Insertion
C-c M-h2.4 Insertion
C-c M-k2.8 Various Commands
C-c M-m2.4 Insertion
C-c M-n2.2.2 Commands to change headers
C-c M-r2.8 Various Commands
C-_2.1 Buffer Entry

M-RET2.8 Various Commands
M-x message-insert-importance-high2.2.2 Commands to change headers
M-x message-insert-importance-low2.2.2 Commands to change headers

TAB2.8 Various Commands

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Table of Contents

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Short Table of Contents

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About This Document

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