aerc-patch - Man Page

local patch management for aerc(1)


aerc provides support for managing local patch sets. In an email-based software development workflow, there are usually many different locally applied patch series for testing and reviewing. Managing the local repository can thus be challenging. With the local patch management system, aerc facilitates this bookkeeping process.

When applying a patch set, aerc creates a tag for those commits. With this tag, the patch set can be tracked and later dropped if needed. Patches are stored in a project data structure which also keeps track of the directory where the repository is. Multiple code bases can be tracked by defining a separate project for each.


The following :patch sub-commands are supported:

:patch init [-f] [<project>]

Creates a new project <project>. If <project> is not defined, aerc will use the last element of the current directory path. It also performs a search for a supported repository in the current directory.

-f: Overwrite an existing project.

:patch list [-a]
:patch ls [-a]

Lists the current project with the tracked patch sets.

-a: Lists all projects.

:patch apply [-c <cmd>] [-w <commit-ish>] <tag>

Applies the selected message(s) to the repository of the current project. It uses the :pipe command for this and keeps track of the applied patch.

Completions for the <tag> are available based on the subject lines of the selected or marked messages.

-c <cmd>: Apply patches with the provided <cmd>. Any occurence of '%r' in the command string will be replaced with the root directory of the current project. Note that this approach is not recommended in general and should only be used for very specific purposes, i.e. when a maintainer is applying a patch set via a separate script to deal with git trailers.

aerc will propose completions for the <tag> based on the subject lines of the selected or marked messages.


  :patch apply -c "git -C %r am -3" fix_v2

-w <commit-ish>: Create a linked worktree for the current project at <commit-ish> and apply the patches to the linked worktree. A new project is created to store the worktree information. When this project is deleted, the worktree will be deleted as well.


  :patch apply -w origin/master fix_v2
:patch drop <tag>

Drops the patch <tag> from the repository.

:patch rebase [<commit-ish>]

Rebases the patch data on commit <commit-ish>.

If the <commit-ish> is omitted, aerc will use the base commit of the current project for the rebase.

:patch find [-f] <commit-hash>

Searches the messages in the current folder of the current account for the message associated with this commit hash based on the subject line.

If a Message-ID is linked to a commit (i.e. when :patch apply was used) then find will first perform a search for the Message-ID.

-f: Filter the message list instead of just showing the search results. Only effective when search for Message-ID was not successful.

:patch cd

Changes the working directory to the root directory of the current project.

:patch term [<cmd>]

Opens a shell (or runs <cmd>) in the working directory of the current project.

:patch switch <project>

Switches the context to <project>.

:patch unlink [<project>]

Deletes all patch tracking data for <project> and unlinks it from a repository. If no project is provided, the current project is deleted.


Root command for path management. Use it to run the sub-commands.

Getting Started

Make sure you have an initialized project (see :patch init).

Now, there are two ways to get patches under the local patch management system:


The following example demonstrates how to manage the local patch sets.

First, a project needs to be initialized. This is done by changing into the working directory where the project's repository is located. For this example, let's assume we have a project called bar in the directory /home/user/foo/bar.

  :cd /home/user/foo/bar

and then creating a new project with

  :patch init

If no name is provided to :patch init, aerc will use the last element of the working directory path (here: bar).

Now the patch tracking is ready for action. Go to the message list, mark a patch series and apply it:

  :patch apply fix_v2

This will apply the selected patch set and assigns the fix_v2 tag to those commits. The tag helps to keep the commits grouped together, and will be helpful when we want to drop this exact patch set at a later point.

With :patch list you can verify that the patch set was correctly applied.

If there is a change in the underlying repository (e.g. by rebasing to upstream), the hashes of the applied local commits can change. :patch list can detect such a change and will then propose to rebase the internal data. To do this, run

  :patch rebase

This will open an editor where you can adjust the correct tags again. You could also change the rebase point by providing an optional argument (e.g. a commit hash, or even HEAD~3 or origin/master, etc.).

To drop a patch set, use the tag that was assigned during applying:

  :patch drop fix_v2

And to delete the project data in aerc:

  :patch unlink bar

Supported Revision Control Systems

The supported revision control systems are currently: git.

See Also



Originally created by Drew DeVault and maintained by Robin Jarry who is assisted by other open source contributors. For more information about aerc development, see

Referenced By