[Techtalk] Does anyone use emacs for email?

David Sumbler david at aeolia.co.uk
Tue Jul 5 03:02:45 EST 2005

Angelina Carlton <brat at magma.ca> writes:

> Hmm I am not sure what the Gnus distribution is, I did apt-get
> install gnus but I will change my file to .gnus

Typing "H v" or even just "V" in Gnus will display the version number.

You'll find this command on the Gnus Reference Card.  With a bit of
luck you will find a file called "refcard.tex", together with other
useful files, somewhere in the Gnus tree.  If you look at this file it
has instructions for printing out the reference card, in case (like
me) you're not familiar with how to use .tex files.  The reference
card is a list of all the key strokes available in Gnus.  It's
fantastically useful; each time I use a new command, I use a
highlighter on it so that I can find it again easily until I get used
to it and can remember it.

My set-up works like this: you will be able to see more easily than I
which bits you need to do differently:

Fetchmail gets my mail from my ISP's server.

Procmail then processes it.  In my ~/.procmailrc file I have the lines


I also have other *.prcml files in the same folder, for Procmail to
put other sorted mail into.  The suffix .prcml is more for my benefit
than anything else.

My ~/.gnus file starts off with

(setq gnus-select-method '(nntp "usenet.plus.net"))
(setq gnus-secondary-select-methods '((nnfolder "" (nnfolder-get-new-mail t))))
(setq mail-sources '((directory :path "/home/david/Mail_folders/" :suffix ".prcml")))

I think you would probably need to have

(setq gnus-secondary-select-methods '((nnmaildir "")))

instead of my second line.  In fact, if you are really not going to
use Gnus to read news, I imagine you could probably do

(setq gnus-select-method '((nnmaildir "")))

Gnus then puts mail into its own files in ~/Mail/ (this is the

When I want to archive mail, I move it to my old mail folders (the
ones I used to use when I was using Pine).  I moved all of these into
~/Mail/archive/ just to make it more logical.  So, for instance, there
is a file called ~/Mail/archive/Mike .  Then I set up these folders in
Gnus with the select method (reached by typing "G e"):

(nnfolder "archive"
          (nnfolder-directory "~/Mail/archive")
          (nnfolder-active-file "~/Mail/archive/active")
          (nnfolder-get-new-mail nil)
          (nnfolder-inhibit-expiry t))

Obviously you're going to have to tailor quite a lot of this to your
own requirements.  It all seems daunting at first, but I had it all
working more-or-less within a week of first dipping my toe in the
water.  Obviously I have refined things since.  One of the great
things about Gnus (and, of course, Emacs) is that since it is all
programmed in Lisp, it is possible to make it doing just about
anything you want.

I would /strongly/ recommend reading the Gnus Manual.  There's a heck
of a lot of it, and lots of it won't make sense at first (lots of it
still doesn't, so far as I'm concerned!)  But you will gradually start
to find the bits you need to know, and get a flavour of the other

Hope the above is of some help.  Stick with it!



David Sumbler

david at aeolia.co.uk

More information about the Techtalk mailing list