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25.3 Mail Mode

The major mode used in the ‘*mail*’ buffer is Mail mode. Mail mode is similar to Text mode, but several commands are provided on the C-c prefix. These commands all deal specifically with editing or sending the message.

C-c C-s

Send the message, and leave the ‘*mail*’ buffer selected (mail-send).

C-c C-c

Send the message, and select some other buffer (mail-send-and-exit).

C-c C-f C-t

Move to the ‘To’ header field, creating one if there is none (mail-to).

C-c C-f C-s

Move to the ‘Subject’ header field, creating one if there is none (mail-subject).

C-c C-f C-c

Move to the ‘CC’ header field, creating one if there is none (mail-cc).

C-c C-w

Insert the file ~/.signature at the end of the message text (mail-signature).

C-c C-y

Yank the selected message (mail-yank-original).

C-c C-q

Fill all paragraphs of yanked old messages, each individually (mail-fill-yanked-message).


Pops up a menu of useful mail-mode commands.

There are two ways to send a message. C-c C-c (mail-send-and-exit) is the usual way to send the message. It sends the message and then deletes the window (if there is another window) or switches to another buffer. It puts the ‘*mail*’ buffer at the lowest priority for automatic reselection, since you are finished with using it. C-c C-s (mail-send) sends the message and marks the ‘*mail*’ buffer unmodified, but leaves that buffer selected so that you can modify the message (perhaps with new recipients) and send it again.

Mail mode provides some other special commands that are useful for editing the headers and text of the message before you send it. There are three commands defined to move point to particular header fields, all based on the prefix C-c C-f (‘C-f’ is for “field”). They are C-c C-f C-t (mail-to) to move to the ‘To’ field, C-c C-f C-s (mail-subject) for the ‘Subject’ field, and C-c C-f C-c (mail-cc) for the ‘CC’ field. These fields have special motion commands because they are edited most frequently.

C-c C-w (mail-signature) adds a standard piece of text at the end of the message to say more about who you are. The text comes from the file .signature in your home directory.

When you use an Rmail command to send mail from the Rmail mail reader, you can use C-c C-y mail-yank-original inside the ‘*mail*’ buffer to insert the text of the message you are replying to. Normally Rmail indents each line of that message four spaces and eliminates most header fields. A numeric argument specifies the number of spaces to indent. An argument of just C-u says not to indent at all and not to eliminate anything. C-c C-y always uses the current message from the ‘RMAIL’ buffer, so you can insert several old messages by selecting one in ‘RMAIL’, switching to ‘*mail*’ and yanking it, then switching back to ‘RMAIL’ to select another.

After using C-c C-y, you can use the command C-c C-q (mail-fill-yanked-message) to fill the paragraphs of the yanked old message or messages. One use of C-c C-q fills all such paragraphs, each one separately.

Clicking the right mouse button in a mail buffer pops up a menu of the above commands, for easy access.

Turning on Mail mode (which C-x m does automatically) calls the value of text-mode-hook, if it is not void or nil, and then calls the value of mail-mode-hook if that is not void or nil.

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