forw man page

forw — forward messages


forw [+folder] [msgs] [-annotate | -noannotate] [-form formfile] [-format | -noformat] [-filter filterfile] [-inplace | -noinplace] [-mime | -nomime] [-draftfolder +folder] [-draftmessage msg] [-nodraftfolder] [-editor editor] [-noedit] [-width colums] [-from address] [-to address] [-cc address] [-fcc +folder] [-subject text] [-whatnowproc program] [-nowhatnowproc] [-dashstuffing | -nodashstuffing] [-build] [-file msgfile] [-version] [-help]

forw [+folder] [msgs] [-digest list] [-issue number] [-volume number] [other switches for  forw] [-version] [-help]


Forw may be used to prepare a message containing other messages.

It constructs the new message from a forms (components) file, with a body composed of the message(s) to be forwarded.  An editor is invoked as in comp, and after editing is complete, the user is prompted before the message is sent.

The default message template will direct forw to construct the draft as follows:

From: {from switch} or <Local-Mailbox> or <username@hostname>
To: {to switch} or blank
Fcc: {fcc switch} or +outbox
Subject: {subject switch} or "{original subject} (fwd)"

If a file named “forwcomps” exists in the user's nmh directory, it will be used instead of this default form.  You may also specify an alternate forms file with the switch -form formfile. Forms are processed via the nmh template system; see mh-format(5) for details.  Components from the first forwarded message are available as standard component escapes in the forms file.

In addition to the standard mh-format(5) escapes, the following component escapes are also supported:

Escape Returns Description
fcc string Any folders specified with `-fcc folder'
nmh-from string Addresses specified with `-from address'
nmh-to string Addresses specified with `-to address'
nmh-cc string Addresses specified with `-cc address'
nmh-subject string Any text specified with `-subject text'

By default the “To:” and “cc:” fields are empty.  You may add addresses to these fields with the -to address and -cc address switches.  You may give these switches multiple times to add multiple addresses.

By default the “From:” field has either the value of the Local-Mailbox profile entry a system default email address.  This default can be overridden by using the -from address switch.  The default mailbox in the “Fcc:” field is +outbox. This can be overridden by the -fcc switch.

Any text you give to the -subject switch will be placed in the “Subject:” field in the draft.

If the draft already exists, forw will ask you as to the disposition of the draft.  A reply of quit will abort forw, leaving the draft intact; replace will replace the existing draft with a blank skeleton; and list will display the draft.

If the -annotate switch is given, each message being forwarded will be annotated with the lines:

Forwarded: date
Forwarded: addrs

where each address list contains as many lines as required.  This annotation will be done only if the message is sent directly from forw. If the message is not sent immediately from forw, “comp -use” may be used to re-edit and send the constructed message, but the annotations won't take place.  Normally annotations are done inplace in order to preserve any links to the message.  You may change this by using the -noinplace switch.

See comp(1) for a description of the -editor and -noedit switches.

Although forw uses a forms (components) file to direct it how to construct the beginning of the draft, it uses a message filter file to direct it as to how each forwarded message should be formatted in the body of the draft.  The filter file for forw should be a standard form file for mhl, as forw will invoke mhl to filter (re-format) the forwarded messages prior to being output to the body of the draft.

The switches -noformat, -format, and -filter filterfile specify which message filter file to use.

If -noformat is specified (this is the default), then each forwarded message is output into the draft exactly as it appears with no mhl filtering.

If -format is specified, then a default message filter file is used. This default message filter should be adequate for most users. This default filter “mhl.forward” is:

; mhl.forward
; default message filter for `forw' (forw -format)

If a file named “mhl.forward” exists in the user's nmh directory, it will be used instead of this form.  You may specify an alternate message filter file with the switch -filter filterfile.

Each forwarded message is separated with an encapsulation delimiter. By default, any dashes in the first column of the forwarded messages will be prepended with `- ' so that when received, the message is suitable for bursting by burst. This follows the Internet RFC 934 guidelines.  You may use the flag -nodashstuffing in order to suppress this form of quoting to the forwarded messages.

For users of prompter, by specifying prompter's -prepend switch in the .mh_profile file, any commentary text is entered before the forwarded messages.  (A major win!)

To use the MIME rules for encapsulation, specify the -mime switch. This directs forw to generate an mhbuild composition file. Note that nmh will not invoke mhbuild automatically; you must specifically give the command

What now? mime

prior to sending the draft.

The -draftfolder +folder and -draftmessage msg switches invoke the nmh draft folder facility.  This is an advanced (and highly useful) feature.  Consult the mh-draft(5) man page for more information.

The -editor editor switch indicates the editor to use for the initial edit.  Upon exiting from the editor, comp will invoke the whatnow program.  See whatnow(1) for a discussion of available options.  The invocation of this program can be inhibited by using the -nowhatnowproc switch.  (In truth of fact, it is the whatnow program which starts the initial edit.  Hence, -nowhatnowproc will prevent any edit from occurring.)

The -build switch is intended to be used by the Emacs mh-e interface to nmh. It implies -nowhatnowproc. It causes a file <mh-dir>/draft to be created, containing the draft message that would normally be presented to the user for editing. No mail is actually sent.

The -file msgfile switch specifies the message to be forwarded as an  exact filename rather than as an nmh folder and message number. It is  intended to be used by the msh interface to nmh. This switch implies -noannotate. The forwarded message is simply copied verbatim into the draft; the processing implied by the -filter, -mime, and -digest switches is bypassed, and the usual leading and trailing 'Forwarded Message' delimiters are not added. The same caveats apply to this option as to the -build switch.

The -digest list, -issue number, and -volume number switches implement a digest facility for nmh. Specifying these switches enables and/or overloads the following escapes:

Type Escape Returns Description
component digest string Argument to `-digest'
function cur integer Argument to `-volume'
function msg integer Argument to `-issue'

Consult the Advanced Features section of the nmh User's Manual for more information on making digests.


forw looks for format and filter files in multiple locations: absolute pathnames are accessed directly, tilde expansion is done on usernames, and files are searched for in the user's Mail directory as specified in their profile.  If not found there, the directory “/etc/nmh” is checked.


The standard message skeleton.


Rather than the standard skeleton.


The message skeleton if -digest is given.


Rather than the standard skeleton.


The standard message filter.


Rather than the standard filter.


The user's profile.

Profile Components


To determine the user's nmh directory.


To find the default current folder.


To find the default draft-folder.


To override the default editor.


To set mode when creating a new message (draft).


Program to refile the message.


Program to filter messages being forwarded.


Program to ask the “What now?” questions.

See Also

comp(1), mhbuild(1), repl(1), send(1), whatnow(1), mh-format(5)

Proposed Standard for Message Encapsulation (RFC 934)



The current folder.


The current message.








If a folder is given, it will become the current folder. The first message forwarded will become the current message.


If whatnowproc is whatnow, then forw uses a built-in whatnow, it does not actually run the whatnow program. Hence, if you define your own whatnowproc, don't call it whatnow since forw won't run it.

When forw is told to annotate the messages it forwards, it doesn't actually annotate them until the draft is successfully sent. If from the whatnowproc, you push instead of send, it's possible to confuse forw by re-ordering the file (e.g. by using “folder -pack”) before the message is successfully sent. Dist and repl don't have this problem.

Referenced By

anno(1), comp(1), dist(1), nmh(7), prompter(1), repl(1), send(1).

March 21, 2013 nmh-1.6