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.
Mutt is a small but very powerful
text-based mail client for UNIX operating systems.
The configuration file for Mutt,
~/.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 = ~/Mail.
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 ~/.muttrc or
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
/usr/share/doc/mutt-1.2.x/, where x is the version number of mutt installed on your system.