Most modern email clients allow the user to select whether
they want to send their emails in plain
text or in HTML. HTML formatted email can contain
formated text, graphics, and interactive links to Web sites. The
particular font can be specified, the layout is very
controllable, textures, and pictures or backgrounds can be
added; all this makes for a visually appealing message when it
gets to the recipient.
On the other hand, plain text email is just that —
plain text. There is nothing fancy, there are no pictures
embedded in the email, and there are no special fonts.
The term plain text refers to textual data in ASCII format.
Plain text (also called clear text) is
the most portable format because it is supported by nearly every
email application on various types of machines.
7.3.1. Using Mutt
Mutt is a small but very
powerful text-based mail client for UNIX operating
The configuration file for
~/.muttrc, is highly configurable.
Because a user can control nearly all of the functions within
Mutt, new users sometimes run into
problems with initial configuration.
Most of the options for Mutt
are invoked using the set or
unset commands, with either boolean or
string values, e.g. set folder =
All configuration options can be changed at any time by
typing a [:] followed by the relevant command.
For example :unset help turns off the
keyboard command hints at the top of the screen. To turn those
hints back on, type :set help.
If you cannot remember the command, there is always
tab-completion to help.
You do not have to type all your preferred configuration
commands each time you run mutt,
you can save them in a file which is loaded every time the
program starts up. This configuration file must exist in your
home directory, and it must be named either
When you launch mutt (by typing
mutt at a shell prompt), a screen appears
with a list of email messages. This initial menu is called the
Figure 7-8. mutt Main Screen
These messages are in a default mail folder, called the
inbox or mailspool. Use the
[K] and [J] keys on your
keyboard to move the highlighted cursor up and down the list
In the index or pager views, use the [R]
key to reply to a message or the [M] key to
create a new one. Mutt prompts for
the To: address and the
Subject: line. A text editor (defined by
your $EDITOR environmental variable in the configuration file)
then launches, allowing you to compose your message. Type your
message, save your file and exit the editor.
After editing the email, Mutt
displays the compose menu, which allows you to customize your
message headers, change the encoding, add file attachments or
press the [Y] key to send your email on its
To learn more about mutt, refer
to the man pages for muttrc and
mutt (type man
muttrc or man mutt at the shell
prompt). You may also find the mutt
manual to be very helpful. The mutt
manual is installed in
where x is the version number of
mutt installed on your