Scroll to navigation



mh-draft - draft folder facility for nmh message system


There are a number of interesting advanced facilities for the composition of outgoing mail.

The Draft Folder

The comp, dist, forw, repl, send, and whom commands each take the switches -draftfolder +folder and -draftmessage msg, which allow you to manipulate the various draft messages you are composing.

If -draftfolder +folder is used, draft messages will be constructed in the indicated folder. The “Draft-Folder” profile entry may be used to specify a default draft folder.

If the switch -draftmessage msg is given, the specified draft is used to compose the message. If -draftmessage msg is not used, then the draft defaults to `new' (create a new draft) unless the user invokes comp with -use, in which case the default is `cur'.

Hence, the user may have several message compositions in progress simultaneously. Now, all of the nmh tools are available on each of the user's message drafts (e.g. show, scan, pick, and so on). If the folder does not exist, the user is asked if it should be created (just like with refile). The last draft message the user was composing is known as `cur' in the draft folder.

Using send, the user can send drafts using the standard nmh `msgs' convention with -draftmessage msgs. If no `msgs' are given, it defaults to `cur'.

In addition, all of these programs have a -nodraftfolder switch, which undoes the last occurrence of -draftfolder folder (useful if a default is specified in the user's nmh profile).

If the user does not give the -draftfolder +folder switch, then all these commands act “normally”. Note that the -draft switch to send and show still refers to the file called `draft' in the user's nmh directory. In the interests of economy of expression, when using comp or send, the user needn't prefix the draft `msg' or `msgs' with -draftmessage. Both of these commands accept a `file' or `files' argument and they will, if given -draftfolder +folder, treat these arguments as `msg' or `msgs'. (This may appear to be inconsistent, at first, but it saves a lot of typing.) Hence,

send -draftfolder +drafts first

is the same as

send -draftfolder +drafts -draftmessage first

To make all this a bit more clear, here are some examples. Let's assume that the following entries are in the nmh profile:

Draft-Folder: drafts
sendf: -draftfolder +drafts

Furthermore, let's assume that the program sendf is a (symbolic) link in the user's $HOME/bin/ directory to send. Now,


will construct the message draft in the `drafts' folder using the `new' message number. Furthermore, they each define `cur' in this folder to be that message draft. If the user were to use the quit option at the `What now?' prompt, then later on, if no other draft composition was done, the draft could be sent with simply


Or, if more editing was required, the draft could be edited with

comp -use

If other drafts had been composed in the meantime, so that this message draft was no longer known as `cur' in the `draft' folder, then the user could scan the folder to see which message draft should be used for editing or sending. Clever users could even employ a backquoted pick to do the work:

comp -use `pick +drafts -to nmh-workers`


sendf `pick +drafts -to nmh-workers`

Note that in the comp example, the output from pick must resolve to a single message draft (it makes no sense to talk about composing two or more drafts with one invocation of comp). In contrast, in the send example, as many message drafts as desired can appear, since send doesn't mind sending more than one draft at a time.

Note that the argument -draftfolder +folder is not included in the profile entry for send, since when comp, et al, invoke send directly, they supply send with the Unix pathname of the message draft; not a -draftmessage msg argument. As far as send is concerned, a draft folder is not being used.

It is important to realize that nmh treats the draft folder like a standard nmh folder in nearly all respects. There are two exceptions:

First, under no circumstances will the -draftfolder folder switch cause the named folder to become the current folder. Obviously, if the folder appeared in the context of a standard +folder argument to an nmh program, as in

scan +drafts

it might become the current folder, depending on the context changes of the nmh program in question.

Second, although conceptually send deletes the `msgs' named in the draft folder, it does not call delete-prog to perform the deletion.

What Happens if the Draft Exists

When the comp, dist, forw, and repl commands are invoked and the draft you indicated already exists, these programs will prompt the user for a response directing the program's action. The prompt is

Draft "/home/foobar/nmhbox/draft" exists (xx bytes).

The appropriate responses and their meanings are:

deletes the draft and starts afresh
lists the draft
files the draft into a folder and starts afresh
leaves the draft intact and exits

In addition, if you specified -draftfolder folder to the command, then one other response will be accepted:

creates a new draft

just as if -draftmessage new had been given. Finally, the comp command will accept one more response:

re-uses the draft

just as if -use had been given.


The user's profile.


For a default draft folder



2012-03-18 nmh-1.8-RC2