Your company here — click to reach over 10,000 unique daily visitors

urlscan - Man Page

browse the URLs in an email message from a terminal


urlscan [options] < message

urlscan [options] message


urlscan accepts a single email message on standard input, then displays a terminal-based list of the URLs in the given message.  Selecting a URL uses the Python webbrowser module to determine which browser to open. The BROWSER environment variable will be used if it is set.

urlscan is primarily intended to be used with the mutt (1) mailreader, but it should work well with any terminal-based mail program.

urlscan is similar to urlview(1), but has the following additional features:

1. Support for more message encodings, such as quoted-printable and base64.

2. Extraction and display of the context surrounding each URL. Toggle context view on/off with c. Reverse displayed order of URLs with R.

3. Copy current URL to primary selection with P or to clipboard with C.

4. URLs are shortened by default to fit on one line. Toggle one or all shortened URLs with s or S.

5. Incremental case-insensitive search using /. Footer shows current search term. / again resets search.

6. Cycle through all available palettes (color and black & white available by default) using p. Running urlscan -g will generate a ~/.config/urlscan/config.json file for editing or adding additional pallettes and keybindings. See


for color options and allowed values. Set display width with `--width`.

7. u will unescape the highlighted URL if necessary.

8. Run a command with the selected URL as the argument or pipe the selected URL to a command using the --run-safe, --run and --pipe arguments.

9. Use l to cycle through whether URLs are opened using the Python webbrowser module (default), xdg-open (if installed) or a function passed on the command line with --run-safe or --run. The --run and --run-safe functions will respect the value of --pipe.

10. F1 shows the help menu.

11. Scan certain email headers for URLs. Currently Link, Archived-At and List-* are scanned when --headers is passed.

12. Queue multiple URLs for opening and open them all at once with a and o.


-c,  --compact

Display a simple list of the extracted URLs, instead of showing the context of each URL. Also toggle with `c` from within the viewer.

-d,  --dedupe

Remove duplicated URLs from the list of URLs.

-E,  --regex <expression>

Use <expression> in place of the default set of regular expressions, to be used for any kind of matching. This is useful for example when selectively avoiding 'mailto:' links or any other pattern that urlscan could interpret as urls (such as '<filename>.<extension>'). Usage example:

   $ urlscan --regex 'https?://.+.w+' file.txt

-f,  --run-safe <expression>

Execute <expression> in place of opening URL with a browser. Use {} in <expression> to substitute in the URL. Examples:

   $ urlscan --run-safe 'tmux set buffer {}'

-g,  --genconf

Generate ~/.config/urlscan/config.json with default options.

-H,  --nohelp

Start with header menu hidden.


Scan email headers for URLs.

-n,  --no-browser

Disables the selection interface and print the links to standard output. Useful for scripting (implies --compact).

-p,  --pipe

Pipe the selected URL to the command specified by `--run-safe` or `--run`. This is preferred when the command supports it, as it is more secure and tolerant of special characters in the URL. Example:

   $ urlscan --run-safe 'xclip -i' --pipe file.txt

-R,  --reverse

Reverse displayed order of URLs.

-r,  --run <expression>

Execute <expression> in place of opening URL with a browser. Use {} in <expression> to substitute in the URL. Shell features such as | and > can be used, but it is less secure. Examples:

   $ urlscan --run 'echo {} | xclip -i' file.txt

-s,  --single

Exit urlscan after opening or copying a single browser link.

   $ urlscan -s file.txt

-w,  --width

Set display width.

-W,  --whitespace-off

Suppress output of blank lines and ellipses lines.

Mutt Integration

To integrate urlscan with mutt, include the following two commands in ~/.muttrc:

macro index,pager \cb "<pipe-message> urlscan<Enter>" "call urlscan to extract URLs out of a message"

macro attach,compose \cb "<pipe-entry> urlscan<Enter>" "call urlscan to extract URLs out of a message"

Once these lines are in your mutt configuration file, pressing Control-b will allow you to browse and open the URLs in the currently selected message.

Alternately, you can pipe a message into urlscan using the '|' operator. This can be useful for applying a different flag (such as the '-d' or '-c' options).


Run urlscan -g to generate ~/.config/urlscan/config.json. All of the keys will be listed. You can either leave in place or delete any that will not be altered.

To unset a binding, set it equal to "". For example: "P": ""

The follow actions are supported:

add_url -- add a URL to the queue (Default: a)

all_escape -- toggle unescape all URLs (Default: u)

all_shorten -- toggle shorten all URLs (Default: S)

bottom -- move cursor to last item (Default: G)

clear_screen -- redraw screen (Default: Ctrl-l)

clipboard -- copy highlighted URL to clipboard using xsel/xclip (Default: C)

clipboard_pri -- copy highlighted URL to primary selection using xsel/xclip (Default: P)

context -- show/hide context (Default: c)

del_url -- delete URL from the queue (Default: d)

down -- cursor down (Default: j)

help_menu -- show/hide help menu (Default: F1)

link_handler -- cycle link handling (webbrowser, xdg-open or custom) (Default: l)

open_queue -- open all URLs in queue (Default: o)

open_queue_win -- open all URLs in queue in new window (Default: O)

open_url -- open selected URL (Default: space or enter)

palette -- cycle through palettes (Default: p)

quit -- quit (Default: q or Q)

reverse -- reverse display order (Default: R)

shorten -- toggle shorten highlighted URL (Default: s)

top -- move to first list item (Default: g)

up -- cursor up (Default: k)



Only required if additional or modified palettes or keybindings are desired.

See Also

/usr/share/doc/urlscan/README, urlview(1), mutt(1)


This manual page was written by Daniel Burrows <dburrows@debian.org> and Scott Hansen <tech@firecat53.net>


1 June 2023