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FORMAIL(1)                                                          FORMAIL(1)



NAME
       formail - mail (re)formatter

SYNOPSIS
       formail [+skip] [-total] [-bczfrktedqBY] [-p prefix]
            [-D maxlen idcache]
            [-l folder]
            [-x headerfield] [-X headerfield]
            [-a headerfield] [-A headerfield]
            [-i headerfield] [-I headerfield]
            [-u headerfield] [-U headerfield]
            [-R oldfield newfield]
            [-n [maxprocs ]] [-m minfields] [-s [command [arg ...]]]
       formail -v

DESCRIPTION
       formail  is  a  filter  that  can be used to force mail into mailbox format, perform 'From ' escaping, generate
       auto-replying headers, do simple header munging/extracting or split up  a  mailbox/digest/articles  file.   The
       mail/mailbox/article contents will be expected on stdin.

       If  formail  is  supposed  to  determine  the sender of the mail, but is unable to find any, it will substitute
       'foo@bar'.

       If formail is started without any command line options, it will force any mail coming from stdin  into  mailbox
       format and will escape all bogus 'From ' lines with a '>'.

OPTIONS
       -v   Formail will print its version number and exit.

       -b   Don't escape any bogus mailbox headers (i.e., lines starting with 'From ').

       -p prefix
            Define a different quotation prefix.  If unspecified it defaults to '>'.

       -Y   Assume traditional Berkeley mailbox format, ignoring any Content-Length: fields.

       -c   Concatenate  continued  fields  in the header.  Might be convenient when postprocessing mail with standard
            (line oriented) text utilities.

       -z   Ensure a whitespace exists between field name and content.  Zap fields which contain only a single whites-
            pace character.  Zap leading and trailing whitespace on fields extracted with -x.

       -f   Force  formail  to  simply  pass  along any non-mailbox format (i.e., don't generate a 'From ' line as the
            first line).

       -r   Generate an auto-reply header.  This will normally throw away all the existing fields (except X-Loop:)  in
            the  original  message, fields you wish to preserve need to be named using the -i option.  If you use this
            option in conjunction with -k, you can prevent the body from being 'escaped' by also specifying -b.

       -k   When generating the auto-reply header or when extracting fields, keep the body as well.

       -t   Trust the sender to have used a valid return address in his header.  This causes  formail  to  select  the
            header  sender  instead  of the envelope sender for the reply.  This option should be used when generating
            auto-reply headers from news articles or when the sender of the message is expecting a reply.

       -s   The input will be split up into separate mail messages, and piped into a program one by one (a new program
            is  started  for  every part).  -s has to be the last option specified, the first argument following it is
            expected to be the name of a program, any other arguments will be passed along to it.   If  you  omit  the
            program, then formail will simply concatenate the split mails on stdout again.  See FILENO.

       -n [maxprocs]
            Tell  formail  not  to wait for every program to finish before starting the next (causes splits to be pro-
            cessed in parallel).  Maxprocs optionally specifies an upper limit on the number of  concurrently  running
            processes.

       -e   Do not require empty lines to be preceding the header of a new message (i.e.,  the messages could start on
            every line).

       -d   Tell formail that the messages it is supposed to split need not be in strict mailbox format (i.e.,  allows
            you to split digests/articles or non-standard mailbox formats).  This disables recognition of the Content-
            Length: field.

       -l folder
            Generate a log summary in the same style as procmail.  This includes the entire "From " line, the Subject:
            header  field, the folder, and the size of the message in bytes.  The mailstat command can be used to sum-
            marize logs in this format.

       -B   Makes formail assume that it is splitting up a BABYL rmail file.

       -m minfields
            Allows you to specify the number of consecutive headerfields formail needs to find before  it  decides  it
            found the start of a new message, it defaults to 2.

       -q   Tells  formail  to  (still detect but) be quiet about write errors, duplicate messages and mismatched Con-
            tent-Length: fields.  This option is on by default, to make it display the messages use -q-.

       -D maxlen idcache
            Formail will detect if the Message-ID of the current message has already been seen using an  idcache  file
            of approximately maxlen size.  If not splitting, it will return success if a duplicate has been found.  If
            splitting, it will not output duplicate messages.  If used in conjunction with -r, formail  will  look  at
            the mail address of the envelope sender instead at the Message-ID.

       -x headerfield
            Extract  the contents of this headerfield from the header.  Line continuations will be left intact; if you
            want the value on a single line then you'll also need the -c option.

       -X headerfield
            Same as -x, but also preserves/includes the field name.

       -a headerfield
            Append a custom headerfield onto the header; but only if a similar field does not exist yet.  If you spec-
            ify  either  one of the field names Message-ID: or Resent-Message-ID: with no field contents, then formail
            will generate a unique message-ID for you.

       -A headerfield
            Append a custom headerfield onto the header in any case.

       -i headerfield
            Same as -A, except that any existing similar fields are renamed by  prepending  an  ''Old-''  prefix.   If
            headerfield consists only of a field-name, it will not be appended.

       -I headerfield
            Same as -i, except that any existing similar fields are simply removed.  If headerfield consists only of a
            field-name, it effectively deletes the field.

       -u headerfield
            Make the first occurrence of this field unique, and thus delete all subsequent occurrences of it.

       -U headerfield
            Make the last occurrence of this field unique, and thus delete all preceding occurrences of it.

       -R oldfield newfield
            Renames all occurrences of the fieldname oldfield into newfield.

       +skip
            Skip the first skip messages while splitting.

       -total
            Output at most total messages while splitting.

NOTES
       When renaming, removing, or extracting fields, partial fieldnames may be used to specify all fields that  start
       with the specified value.

       By  default,  when generating an auto-reply header procmail selects the envelope sender from the input message.
       This is correct for vacation messages and other automatic replies regarding the  routing  or  delivery  of  the
       original  message.   If the sender is expecting a reply or the reply is being generated in response to the con-
       tents of the original message then the -t option should be used.

       RFC822, the original standard governing the format of Internet mail messages, did not  specify  whether  Resent
       header  fields (those that begin with 'Resent-', such as 'Resent-From:') should be considered when generating a
       reply.  Since then, the recommended usage of the Resent headers has evolved to consider them as purely informa-
       tional  and  not  for use when generating a reply.  This has been codified in RFC2822, the new Internet Message
       Format standard, which states in part:

              Resent fields are used to identify a message as having been reintroduced into the transport system by  a
              user.   The purpose of using resent fields is to have the message appear to the final recipient as if it
              were sent directly by the original sender, with all of the original fields  remaining  the  same....They
              MUST NOT be used in the normal processing of replies or other such automatic actions on messages.

       While formail now ignores Resent headers when generating header replies, versions of formail prior to 3.14 gave
       such headers a high precedence.  If the old behavior is needed for established applications it can be specified
       by calling formail with the option '-a Resent-' in addition to the -r and -t options.  This usage is deprecated
       and should not be used in new applications.

ENVIRONMENT
       FILENO
            While splitting, formail assigns the message number currently being output to this variable.   By  preset-
            ting FILENO, you can change the initial message number being used and the width of the zero-padded output.
            If FILENO is unset it will default to 000.  If FILENO is non-empty and does not contain a  number,  FILENO
            generation is disabled.

EXAMPLES
       To split up a digest one usually uses:
              formail +1 -ds >>the_mailbox_of_your_choice
       or
              formail +1 -ds procmail

       To remove all Received: fields from the header:
              formail -I Received:

       To remove all fields except From: and Subject: from the header:
              formail -k -X From: -X Subject:

       To supersede the Reply-To: field in a header you could use:
              formail -i "Reply-To: foo@bar"

       To convert a non-standard mailbox file into a standard mailbox file you can use:
              formail -ds <old_mailbox >>new_mailbox

       Or, if you have a very tolerant mailer:
              formail -a Date: -ds <old_mailbox >>new_mailbox

       To extract the header from a message:
              formail -X ""
       or
              sed -e '/^$/ q'

       To extract the body from a message:
              formail -I ""
       or
              sed -e '1,/^$/ d'

SEE ALSO
       mail(1), binmail(1), sendmail(8), procmail(1), sed(1), sh(1), RFC822, RFC2822, RFC1123

DIAGNOSTICS
       Can't fork             Too many processes on this machine.

       Content-Length: field exceeds actual length by nnn bytes
                              The  Content-Length: field in the header specified a length that was longer than the ac-
                              tual body.  This causes this message to absorb a number of subsequent messages following
                              it in the same mailbox.

       Couldn't write to stdout
                              The program that formail was trying to pipe into didn't accept all the data formail sent
                              to it; this diagnostic can be suppressed by the -q option.

       Duplicate key found: x The Message-ID or sender x in this message was found in the idcache; this diagnostic can
                              be suppressed by the -q option.

       Failed to execute "x"  Program not in path, or not executable.

       File table full        Too many open files on this machine.

       Invalid field-name: "x"
                              The  specified field-name "x" contains control characters, or cannot be a partial field-
                              name for this option.

WARNINGS
       You can save yourself and others a lot of grief if you try to avoid using this autoreply feature on mails  com-
       ing  through  mailinglists.   Depending  on  the format of the incoming mail (which in turn depends on both the
       original sender's mail agent and the mailinglist setup) formail could decide to generate  an  autoreply  header
       that replies to the list.

       In  the  tradition  of UN*X utilities, formail will do exactly what you ask it to, even if it results in a non-
       RFC822 compliant message.  In particular, formail will let you generate header fields  whose  name  ends  in  a
       space  instead of a colon.  While this is correct for the leading 'From ' line, that line is not a header field
       so much as the message separator for the mbox mailbox format.  Multiple occurrences of such a line or any other
       colonless  header field will be considered by many mail programs, including formail itself, as the beginning of
       a new message.  Others will consider the message to be corrupt.  Because of this, you should not use the -i op-
       tion  with  the  'From ' line as the resulting renamed line, 'Old-From ', will probably not do what you want it
       to.  If you want to save the original 'From ' line, rename it with the -R option to a legal header  field  such
       as 'X-From_:'.

BUGS
       When  formail  has to generate a leading 'From ' line it normally will contain the current date.  If formail is
       given the option '-a Date:', it will use the date from the 'Date:' field in the header (if present).   However,
       since formail copies it verbatim, the format will differ from that expected by most mail readers.

       If  formail is instructed to delete or rename the leading 'From ' line, it will not automatically regenerate it
       as usual.  To force formail to regenerate it in this case, include -a 'From '.

       If formail is not called as the first program in a pipe and it is told to split up the input  in  several  mes-
       sages, then formail will not terminate until the program it receives the input from closes its output or termi-
       nates itself.

       If formail is instructed to generate an autoreply mail, it will never put more than one address  in  the  'To:'
       field.

MISCELLANEOUS
       Formail is eight-bit clean.

       When  formail  has to determine the sender's address, every RFC822 conforming mail address is allowed.  Formail
       will always strip down the address to its minimal form (deleting excessive comments and whitespace).

       The regular expression that is used to find 'real' postmarks is:
              "\n\nFrom [\t ]*[^\t\n ]+[\t ]+[^\n\t ]"

       If a Content-Length: field is found in a header, formail will copy the number of specified bytes  in  the  body
       verbatim before resuming the regular scanning for message boundaries (except when splitting digests or Berkeley
       mailbox format is assumed).

       Any header lines immediately following the leading 'From ' line that start with '>From ' are considered to be a
       continuation  of  the 'From ' line.  If instructed to rename the 'From ' line, formail will change each leading
       '>' into a space, thereby transforming those lines into normal RFC822 continuations.

NOTES
       Calling up formail with the -h or -? options will cause it to display a command-line help page.

SOURCE
       This program is part of the procmail mail-processing-package (v3.22) available at  http://www.procmail.org/  or
       ftp.procmail.org in pub/procmail/.

MAILINGLIST
       There exists a mailinglist for questions relating to any program in the procmail package:
              <procmail-usersATprocmail.org>
                     for submitting questions/answers.
              <procmail-users-requestATprocmail.org>
                     for subscription requests.

       If you would like to stay informed about new versions and official patches send a subscription request to
              procmail-announce-requestATprocmail.org
       (this is a readonly list).

AUTHORS
       Stephen R. van den Berg
              <srbATcuci.nl>
       Philip A. Guenther
              <guentherATsendmail.com>



BuGless                           2001/08/04                        FORMAIL(1)