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How to use Pine
Instructions and Commands for using this popular mail program

What is Pine?

PINE is the University of Washington's "Program for Internet News and Email". It is an easy-to-use program found on many UN*X systems, and is much simpler to use than the standard UN*X Mail. It's installed on our home server, and we are happy to provide this useful alternative to pop mail programs.

How do I access it?

At the Linux prompt, (home:~$) simply type "pine" and hit enter. The pine menu will come up on the screen.

Giving Commands in PINE

The bottom two lines of the screen are always used to list the commands currently available to you. You press the highlighted keys to give the command. The commands for getting help and going back to the main menu are always present.

The "Other Commands" function changes the keys you see at the bottom of the screen. In some cases there are three different 'panels' of keys which it toggles through. All the commands are active, even if they are not currently showing at the bottom of your screen. In other words, you don't need to toggle the page to use a command you can't see.

Some commands in PINE require a combination of the control key and another key to be pressed at the same time. These commands are shown as the "^" character in front of the letter, such as "^x" for Control-x. On some systems, certain control characters don't work within PINE. In that case, you can press the escape key twice followed by the desired key. For example, if control-x (^x) doesn't work, try typing "ESC ESC x".

The "+" and "-" keys are used for moving to the next or previous page. The space bar will also work as a page-down key. Pressing the Enter key will activate the default command for the screen (the highlighted command).

Control-L (^L) will redraw the screen. This is especially helpful when you get line noise on your screen from using a modem. It never hurts to use control-L if your screen looks funny.

Status Line

The top line of the screen is PINE's status line. It will always display the current version of PINE and will also convey information about the status of the program. This is where you look to find out what collection, folder and message number is active.

Main Menu Commands

Menu Options

? - Show help text

C - Compose a message - takes you into the PINE message composer and permits you to create and send a new message.

I - Folder Index screen - takes you to the Folder Index screen which displays a summary caption for each message in currently open folder.

L - Folder List screen - takes you to the Folder List screen which displays the names of all your message folders and allows you to view, rename, delete, and add folders. You can open (view) a different folder by highlighting the desired one and pressing Enter.

A - Address Book screen - takes you to the Address Book Management screen. From here, your personal address book(s) may be updated.

S - Setup Functions - prompts you for one of several configuration screens, including the Setup Configuration screen, by which you may activate optional PINE features.

Q - Quit Pine

Screen Commands

O - Show all Other available commands

P - Select Previous command up on menu

N - Select Next command down on menu

R - Display PINE Release notes - displays information about this version of PINE, as well as historical and legal notes.

K - Lock Keyboard - allows your PINE session to be protected during a temporary absence from your terminal.

G - Goto a specified folder - lets you jump directly to a new folder without having to use the Folder List command.

Reading Messages

When you log in to UN*X, you will be told if you have any new mail messages. You can read them immediately or choose to leave them until later.

From the PINE Main Menu choose I for Index . Pine will display a list of your mail messages. You can use the up and down arrow keys to select the message you want to read, then press Enter. The message will be displayed one screen at a time. PINE will wait for you to press the space bar to view any subsequent screens.

There is a menu at the bottom of the screen to show you how to delete files, save files, and perform other functions.

Sending Messages

Select C for Compose from the Main Menu. PINE will clear the screen and present you with an editing screen. At this screen, enter the To: address and Subject: line. Then tab to place the cursor inside the editing area. Now you can type your message. When the text of the message is complete, simply press Control-x to close the editor and send the message to addressee(s).

The other fields in the header are optional. If you would like to send a copy of the message to an additional address, enter the address in the CC: field.

Signature Files

A 'signature' file is a small text file added to the end of e-mail messages, which is usually 3-4 lines and contains information like your name, address and/or phone number. You can have a signature file added to end of every mail message if you wish. Create a small file with any UN*X text editor and save it with the name '.signature', which is the name that PINE will look for, by default. The next time that you compose a message, you'll see that the .signature file is appended to your message.


PINE help is context-sensitive. Each PINE screen you use will have its own help text, explaining the choices available for that screen. Pressing the question mark ('?') will put you into a help screen.

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