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Frequently Asked Questions



For questions that are not answered here, Pine has a help file (H from wherever you're stuck). You can also type see pine at the prompt or look at Pine Technical Notes for more information than you really wanted to know. The University of Washington, where Pine was developed, also has a Pine Information Center. More helpfully, TSR has Pine instructions. For some more useful tips, type see pinetips at the prompt.

How do I open or send attachments with Pine?

A word about attachments and viruses: Viruses often send themselves by email, so you need to take precautions when sending attachments but also when receiving them. Don't open an unexpected, unexplained attachment, even when it appears to come from a trusted friend. If you don't know what it is, email the sender to ask for more explanation. It could be a virus. Also, when sending attachments, make sure that you fully explain what the file is. Virus emails are characterized by brief and vague descriptions.

Potentially virus-laden attachments arriving on the MHC system are now suffixed "-VirusRisk" in an attempt to raise awareness of the risk of viruses. This suffix does not mean that there definitely is a virus in this file, only that this type of file has the potential to carry viruses. If you know the sender and why s/he sent it, download the file as explained below (you will have to change the filename to remove the "-VirusRisk" tag), but always virus-scan attachments, no matter what, and make sure that your virus definitions are up-to-date also.

When viewing an email with an attachment, hit V to view the list of attached files. Highlight the file to be saved, then hit S. Edit the filename if you wish, then hit enter. The file is saved in your home directory. Now either map your network drive or connect using FTP, retrieve the file, virus-scan it, and be happy. Don't forget to delete the file from your network space when you're done.

To send an attachment, put the file in your home directory through either mapping your network drive or using FTP. Then start Pine and compose an email. Put your cursor in the header field labeled "Attachments" and either type the name of the file or hit Ctrl-T to select it from a list. Compose and send the email normally. Be sure to explain clearly, in the body of the email, what the attachment is.

For more information, look at

How do I create folders to store my received emails?

There are two ways to create folders. One way is to arrow down to a message which you want to store in the new folder and hit S. Enter the name of the folder and hit Y when Pine asks you if you want to create it.

The second way is to hit L for "Folder List" and then move down into the "Folder-Collection (Mail)" section. Hit A to add a new folder. Enter the name and hit Enter. You can also edit existing folders by hitting R for "Rename" or D for "Delete."

Type see folder-collections at the prompt for more information.

How do I create filters for my email? How do I block a sender?

In the main menu of Pine (hit M to get there), hit S for "Setup," R for "Rules," and F for "Filters." Now hit A to add a rule. Use arrow keys to navigate and hit C to change values. Once you're done, hit E to exit and Y to save changes.

How do I create a signature file (.sig)?

Decide on a sig which is reasonably short. General netiquette recommends that a sig should be less than four lines; in no circumstances should it exceed seven. In addition, it should be preceded by a separator: "-- " (dash dash space return). This separator allows programs such as Tin to snip everything below it automatically when replying. This bit of text is going to be appended to every email you send out; people aren't going to read it more than once, so making it longer than these guidelines is a waste.

First way: In the main screen of Pine (hit M to get there if you're not), hit S for "Setup" and once again for "Signature." Enter and/or edit the text. When you are done, hit Ctrl-X to save. The signature will now appear in every email you send.

Second way: At the prompt, enter the command: pico .signature. Type your desired text, then hit Ctrl-X to save the file. Confirm the file name by hitting return, select y to confirm that you want to save it, and you are now back at the prompt.

Contributed by Carolyn Crowley.

How do I change my From: address or other headers?

If you want to change your email address manually, on a per-email basis, you'll need to change Pine's settings to allow you to edit it like you would the To: header. Go to the Main menu, then Setup and Configuration. Enter W to search for the string default-composer-hdrs. Here, enter the headers you want (for example From:, To:, Cc:, and Subject:). You will need to enter each on a separate line (after entering the first line, press A to enter an additional value).

If you want to modify a header systematically, you can set up roles (press S, R, R from the main menu). For more information, see the Pine Technical Notes.

Desktop Clients

Pine is an email client which runs on the UNIX servers at MHC; it is also possible to configure desktop email clients to retrieve MHC email.

What desktop email clients are there?

Netscape has an email client, Netscape Messenger, built in. Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express are Microsoft products and therefore common. Another extremely good email client is Eudora, which has two free versions.

How do I configure my desktop client to retrieve my MHC email?

For instructions on setting up Netscape Messenger and Outlook Express, see

General instructions, including other email clients, are at

What's the difference between POP and IMAP?

POP and IMAP are different email protocols. One difference is that MHC supports only IMAP for off-campus users, not POP. Read for more information.

Going Away

How do I check my email from off-campus?

For more information, enter see access at the prompt or look at

How do I have my email forwarded to another address?

You do this through the forwarding command in Telnet. Enter forwarding at the prompt for more details.

How do I set an auto-reply message for when I'm away?

Type see vacation at the prompt for more information.

How do I unsubscribe from a mailing list?

First of all, you should always keep the email that tells you how to unsubscribe. For MHC lists, write to Do not reply to the whole list. This rarely works, it annoys everyone on the list, and it creates unnecessary traffic.


Why are chain letters abuse?

Chain letters are abuse of the MHC system because they waste resources. They are against MHC account policy. In addition, chain letters which ask for sending money through the post are illegal. Type see chain at the prompt for more information.

What is mailbombing?

Mailbombing is sending someone so many email messages that they can't manage it and/or his email system breaks down; it's a type of denial-of-service (DOS) attack (another is artificially giving a web site so many hits at once that it can't handle the load). This is bad. Even though people sometimes say to do it in a good cause, don't do it. It's wasteful of bandwidth and resources, and it's counter-productive. Besides, it's illegal. has a few reasons not to do it.

What is UCE/UBE/spam?

"UCE" stands for Unsolicited Commercial Email and "UBE" for Unsolicited Bulk Email; "spam" is a slamg term for both. They basically mean the same thing. It's the emails for porn sites and get-rich-quick schemes that flood your inbox, usually with forged addresses and headers. Spamming is illegal.

For more information, look at or the Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial Email.

What is spamtrapping?

Spamtrapping is falsifying your email address in the headers of email or usenet posts so that spammers won't get it. Many people do it, but it's against the RFCs and MHC policy. It's mostly done on usenet, where spambots search headers for addresses.

You can't change your From: address if using Pine. It is against MHC account policy to forge your email address.

What should I do if I receive abusive email?

Type see harass at the prompt for more information.


Copyright © 2002 Mount Holyoke College. This page created and maintained by Laura Melton. Last modified on October 13, 2002.