Most modern email clients allow the user to select whether they want
to send their emails in plain text or in
HTML. The advantage of HTML formatted email is that they can contain
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.
They is nothing fancy, there are no pictures embedded in the email, and
there are no special fonts. Plain text emails are simple.
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 systems.
Mutt's configuration file,
~/.muttrc. gives mutt
its flexibility and configurability. It is also this file that might
give new users problems. The number of options that
mutt has available to it are truly
astounding. mutt allows the user to control
nearly all of the functions that mutt uses
to send, receive, and read your mail. As is true with all powerful
software, it takes time to understand the features and what they can
do for you.
Most of the options 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 handy keyboard command
hints at the top of the screen. To turn those hints back on, type
If you cannot remember the command you want to use, there is always
tab-completion to help you.
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, it has to be named either
~/.muttrc or ~/.mutt/muttrc.
When you launch mutt, the first thing you see is a screen with a list of email
messages. This initial menu is called the index.
Figure 7-8. mutt Main Screen
These messages are in a default mail folder, often called the
mailspool, that you can think of as your
inbox. Use the [K] and [J] keys on your
keyboard to move the highlighted cursor up and down the list of
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 will prompt for the
To: address and the Subject:
line. A text editor (defined by your $EDITOR environmental variable in
the configuration file) will then launch allowing you to compose your
message. Type your message, save your file and exit the editor.
After editing your email, Mutt displays
the compose menu, where you can customize your message headers, change
the encoding, add file attachments or simply press the
[Y] key to send your email on its way.
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 system.