folder man page

folder, folders — set/list current folder/message


folder [+folder] [msg] [-all | -noall] [-create | -nocreate] [-fast | -nofast] [-header | -noheader] [-recurse | -norecurse] [-total | -nototal] [-list | -nolist] [-push | -pop] [-pack | -nopack] [-print] [-verbose | -noverbose] [-version] [-help]

folders is equivalent to folder -all


Since the nmh environment is the shell, it is easy to lose track of the current folder from day to day.  When folder is given the -print switch (the default), folder will list the current folder, the number of messages in it, the range of the messages (low-high), and the current message within the folder, and will flag extra files if they exist.  An example of this summary is:

inbox+	has  16 messages	(  3- 22);	cur=  5.

If a +folder and/or msg are specified, they will become the current folder and/or message.  By comparison, when a +folder argument is given, this corresponds to a “cd” operation in the shell; when no +folder argument is given, this corresponds roughly to a “pwd” operation in the shell.

If the specified (or default) folder doesn't exist, the default action is to query the user as to whether the folder should be created; when standard input is not a tty, the answer to the query is assumed to be “yes”.

Specifying -create will cause folder to create new folders without any query.  (This is the easy way to create an empty folder for use later.)  Specifying -nocreate will cause folder to exit without creating a non-existant folder. Specifying -all will produce a summary line for each top-level folder in the user's nmh directory, sorted alphabetically.  (If folder is invoked by a name ending with “s” (e.g. folders), -all is assumed).  Specifying -recurse with -all will also produce a line for all sub-folders.  These folders are all preceded by the read-only folders, which occur as “atr-cur-” entries in the user's nmh context.  For example:

/var/work/folder has 35 messages ( 1- 35); cur=23.
/usr/bugs/Mail has 82 messages ( 1-108); cur=82.
ff has no messages.
inbox+ has 16 messages ( 3- 22); cur= 5.
mh has 76 messages (15- 76); cur=70.
notes has 2 messages ( 1- 2); cur= 1.
ucom has 124 messages ( 1-124); cur= 6; (others).
TOTAL = 339 messages in 7 folders

The “+” after inbox indicates that it is the current folder. The “(others)” indicates that the folder ucom has files which aren't messages.  These files may either be sub-folders, or files that don't belong under the nmh file naming scheme.

The header is output if either a -all or a -header switch is specified.  It is suppressed by -noheader.

The folder and message totals are output if either a -all or a -total switch is specified.  It is suppressed by -nototal.

If -fast is given, only the folder name (or names in the case of -all) will be listed.  (This is faster because the folders need not be read.)

If a +folder is given along with the -all switch, folder will, in addition to setting the current folder, list the top-level subfolders for the current folder (with -norecurse) or list all sub-folders under the current folder recursively (with -recurse).

If msg is supplied, together with +folder or without -all, it will become the current message of +folder (if it had been supplied) or the current folder.

The -recurse switch lists each folder recursively, so use of this option effectively defeats the speed enhancement of the -fast option, since each folder must be searched for subfolders.  Nevertheless, the combination of these options is useful.

Compacting a Folder

The -pack switch will compress the message names in the designated folders, removing holes in message numbering.  The -verbose switch directs folder to tell the user the general actions that it is taking to compress the folder.

The Folder Stack

The -push switch directs folder to push the current folder onto the folder-stack, and make the +folder argument the current folder.  If +folder is not given, the current folder and the top of the folder-stack are exchanged.  This corresponds to the “pushd” operation in the shell.

The -pop switch directs folder to discard the top of the folder-stack, after setting the current folder to that value. No +folder argument is allowed.  This corresponds to the “popd” operation in the shell.  The -push switch and the -pop switch are mutually exclusive: the last occurrence of either one overrides any previous occurrence of the other.  Both of these switches also set -list by default.

The -list switch directs folder to list the contents of the folder-stack. No +folder argument is allowed.  After a successful -push or -pop, the -list action is taken, unless a -nolist switch follows them on the command line.  This corresponds to the “dirs” operation in the shell.  The -push, -pop, and -list switches turn off -print.



The user's profile.

Profile Components


To determine the user's nmh directory.


To find the default current folder.


To set mode when creating a new folder.


To determine the folder stack.

See Also

mhpath(1), refile(1), rmf(1)



The current folder.




is the default if no -list, -push, or -pop is specified.


is the default if -push, or -pop is specified.


If +folder and/or msg are given, they will become the current folder and/or message.


There is no way to restore the default behavior  (to ask the user whether to create a non-existant folder) after -create or -nocreate is given.

Referenced By

flist(1), mh-folders(5), mhpath(1), nmh(7), refile(1), rmf(1), sortm(1).

folders(1) is an alias of folder(1).

January 1, 2001 nmh-1.6