mailbox - mail notification
mailbox [ -clbd ] [ -u user ] [ -s size ] [ -L latitude ]
[ -M longitude ] [ -S label ] [ -m mail-program ] [ -f mail-file ]
[ -C envelope-counter ] [ -B beeper ] [ -D directory ] [ -g XxY ] [ -N window name ]
mailbox watches your mailbox, and notifies you when you have mail. It
displays a small picture of a mailbox to perform notification. The flag
on the mailbox rises whenever new mail messages appear in your mailbox.
You can open the mailbox and read your mail by clicking on the mailbox
window with the left mouse button. If one of the shift keys is held
down, or if you have no mail, the mailbox door simply opens without
running the mail reading program. Once you have finished reading your
mail, the mailbox flag goes down and the door closes.
The number of envelopes in the mailbox corresponds to the number of
messages in your mailbox. Manila envelopes represent five messages each.
Each normal letter-sized envelope represent one message. mailbox knows
how to count messages written by Berkeley and AT&T mail, and by mh.
mailbox also understands Content-Length headers.
The MAIL environment variable is used to determine where to watch for
mail. If this variable does not exist, the USER environment variable is
appended to the string "/usr/mail", and this file is used.
-c Run in colormap mode. Ordinarily, the decision to display in
colormap mode is made on the basis of available graphics hardware.
-l Run in lighted, RGB mode. This is currently a no-op.
-b Don't beep when mail arrives.
-d Print out longitude and latitude on startup.
Watch the mail of a user other than yourself.
Execute the specified program when requested to. The argument
following the option must be a single string. This is generally
accomplished by putting double quotes around the string. If an
empty string is passed, mailbox simply opens and closes the mailbox
door when the window is clicked on.
The program string is executed by system(3S), so environment
variables and other shell substitutions can be used in this string.
Note that the program that is started by mailbox probably should
not be a program that reads from standard input and output, since
it tries to run in the shell window that started it. If such a
behavior is desired, the -m option starts a wsh(1G) window to
contain the program. The default -m command used by mailbox is
/usr/sbin/xwsh -fg 7 -bg 97 -bold 230 -cursorfg 95 \
-geom 80x40 -name Mail -holdonerror -e /usr/sbin/Mail
The environment variable MAILBOXPROG can be set to specify a mail
program in the same manner as specifying the -m switch. If the
environment variable is set and the -m switch is not specified, the
environment variable determines the mail program. If the
environment variable is set and the -m switch is also specified,
the command line mail program overrides the setting of the
Set the size of the window, in points. The default size is 96
points, or 1.33 inches. The mailbox window is always square.
Set the position of the window in pixels. The position has the
following form: <X>x<Y> or <X>X<Y> where <X> is the X position in
pixels and <Y> is the Y position in pixels for the lower left
corner of the window. The origin is the lower left corner of
Specify the latitude where the mailbox is located. This is used to
determine the direction of the sun, and the times of sunset and
sunrise. Latitudes south of the equator are specified as a
negative number. If no latitude is specified, 37 degrees 30' N is
assumed. The latitude can also be specified through the
environment variable LATITUDE, which overrides the default
latitude, but is overridden by command-line options.
Specify the longitude where the mailbox is located. This is used
to determine the direction of the sun, and the times of sunset and
sunrise. The default longitude is 122 degrees west. Longitudes
are expressed as degrees west of Greenwich, England. Longitudes
east of Greenwich are specified as negative numbers. The longitude
can also be specified through the environment variable LONGITUDE,
which operates in the same way as LATITUDE.
Put a small sign on top of the mailbox with the specified label
printed on it. Unfortunately, the sign is hard to read if the
window is small, due to resolution limits. If this bothers you,
make the mailbox bigger with the -s option.
-N window name
The window name is any string to be given the program as the name
or title. X resources can then be specified for <name> and refer
to this window.
Specify that mailbox watch a file other than your system mailbox,
as though it were a mailbox. Note that mailbox only puts up the
flag if it determines that actual mail messages have been added to
the file, by counting the number of messages. However, the -C
option can be used to change the way that mailbox counts messages.
mailbox usually counts the number of envelopes in your mailbox
every time that it notices that the mailbox has been touched. If
the number of envelopes is greater than the last time it checked,
it raises the flag. However, you can change mailbox's concept of
how to count envelopes by specifying an "envelope-counting"
The name of the mail file being watched is appended to the
specified string, and the result is passed to system(3S). The job
of the counting program is to call exit(2) with an argument that is
equal to the number of envelopes. If the counting program exits
with a negative status, or if it is stopped by a signal, the number
of envelopes is assumed to be zero. Because exit status is modulo
256, this is really only useful for mailboxes with less than 256
This option can be used to turn mailbox into a more general filewatching
program, in conjunction with the -f and -m options.
mailbox usually beeps whenever it determines that new mail has
arrived. You can override this action by providing a "beeper"
program. Typical beeping programs might send data to /dev/audio.
The beeping program is a string that is passed to system(3S).
This option tells mailbox to watch the named directory instead of a
file. When in this mode, mailbox assumes that each file in the
directory (except files whose names start with '.') is a mail
message. This mode is useful for users of the mh and xmh(1) mail
handling programs who choose to have messages delivered directly
into folders using the features of slocal. For example the
following command tells mailbox to watch the mh folder called inbox
and to use xmh as the mail reader.
mailbox -D ~/Mail/inbox -S inbox -m "xmh -initial inbox"
The arguments to xmh tell it to start with inbox as its initial
folder. This is its default. The arguments are included here for
When xmh starts it reads each message in the folder in order to
look at its subject line. This fools mailbox into thinking you
have read the message, and thus the flag can be lowered
/usr/sbin/Mail Default mail program if the -m switch is not specified
and $MAILBOXPROG is not set.
$MAILBOXPROG Default mail program if the -m switch is not
/usr/mail/$USER Default mail file if the -f switch is not specified
and $MAIL is not set.
$MAIL Default mail file if the -f switch is not specified.
chkconfig(1M), mail_att(1), mail_bsd(1), su(1M).
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