refile - Man Page

file message in nmh folders


refile [-help] [-version] [msgs] [-draft] [-link | -nolink] [-preserve | -nopreserve] [-retainsequences | -noretainsequences] [-unlink | -nounlink] [-src +folder] [-file file] [-rmmproc program] [-normmproc] +folder1 ...


refile moves (see mv(1)) or links (see ln(1)) messages from a source folder into one or more destination folders.

If you think of a message as a sheet of paper, this operation is not unlike filing the sheet of paper (or copies) in file cabinet folders. When a message is filed, it is linked into the destination folder(s) if possible, and is copied otherwise.  As long as the destination folders are all on the same file system, multiple filing causes little storage overhead.  This facility provides a good way to cross-file or multiple-index messages.  For example, if a message is received from Jones about the ARPA Map Project, the command

refile cur +jones +Map

would allow the message to be found in either of the two folders `jones' or `Map'.

You may specify the source folder using -src +folder. If this is not given, the current folder is used by default. If no message is specified, then `cur' is used by default.

The option -file file directs refile to use the specified file as the source message to be filed, rather than a message from a folder. Note that the file should be a validly formatted message, just like any other nmh message.  It should not be in mail drop format (to convert a file in mail drop format to a folder of nmh messages, see inc(1)).

If a destination folder doesn't exist, refile will ask if you want to create it. A negative response will abort the file operation. If the standard input for refile is not a tty, then refile will not ask any questions and will proceed as if the user answered “yes” to all questions.

The option -link preserves the source folder copy of the message (i.e., it does an ln(1) rather than a mv(1)), whereas, -nolink (the default) deletes the filed messages from the source folder.

Normally when a message is refiled, for each destination folder it is assigned the number which is one above the current highest message number in that folder.  Use of the -preserve switch will override this message renaming, and try to preserve the number of the message. If a conflict for a particular folder occurs when using the -preserve switch, then refile will use the next available message number which is above the message number you wish to preserve.

As message sequences are folder-specific, moving the message from the source folder removes it from all its sequences in that folder. -retainsequences adds it to those same sequences in the destination folder, creating any that don't exist. This adding does not apply for the “cur” sequence.

If -link is not specified (or -nolink is specified), the filed messages will be removed from the source folder.  The default is to remove these messages by renaming them with a site-dependent prefix (usually a comma). Such files will then need to be removed in some manner after a certain amount of time.  Many sites arrange for cron to remove these files once a day, so check with your system administrator.

Alternately, if you wish for refile to really remove the files representing these messages from the source folder, you can use the -unlink switch (not to be confused with the -link switch).  But messages removed by this method cannot be later recovered.

If you prefer a more sophisticated method of `removing' the messages from the source folder, you can define the rmmproc profile component.  For example, you can add a profile component such as

rmmproc:    /home/coleman/bin/rmm_msgs

then refile will instead call the named program or script to handle the message files.

The user may specify -rmmproc program on the command line to override this profile specification. The -normmproc option forces the message files to be deleted by renaming or unlinking them as described above.

The -draft switch tells refile to file the <mh-dir>/draft.


$HOME/.mh_profileThe user profile

Profile Components

Path:To determine the user's nmh directory
Current-Folder:To find the default current folder
Folder-Protect:To set mode when creating a new folder
rmmproc:Program to delete the message

See Also

folder(1), mh-sequence(5), rmf(1), rmm(1)


`-src +folder' defaults to the current folder
`msgs' defaults to cur


If -src +folder is given, it will become the current folder. If neither -link nor `all' is specified, the current message in the source folder will be set to the last message specified; otherwise, the current message won't be changed.

If the “Previous-Sequence” profile entry is set, in addition to defining the named sequences from the source folder, refile will also define those sequences for the destination folders. See mh-sequence(5) for information concerning the previous sequence.


Since refile and rmm use your rmmproc to delete the message, the rmmproc must not call refile or rmm without specifying -normmproc, or you will create an infinite loop.

Referenced By

folder(1), nmh(7), send(1).

2013-03-19 nmh-1.8