September 3, 2023

Create and store email aliases for Mutt

Set up Mutt to store and retrieve aliases

First you want to create a file to store aliases, say .mail_aliases. You could store aliases in your muttrc file, however it is good practice not to do so (you might share your configuration files occasionally).

So, to create the file run:

$ touch ~/.mail_aliases

Once you’ve created .mail_aliases you want to instruct muttrc to use it. To do so run:

$ cat >> ~/.muttrc << EOF
> # Config for aliases
> source ~/.mail_aliases
> set alias_file=~/.mail_aliases

This command appends three lines to the muttrc file. The first line, i.e. the one starting with >, is a mnemonic comment. The second line tells muttrc to source the file. The third line tells Mutt where to save (and retrieve I guess?) aliases. EOF is just used to delineate (frame) what is called here document’, i.e.  command << Input1.

Create and store email aliases

When using Mutt, type the key a to create an alias for the current message. Or run:

$ echo "alias alice (Alice Geepeegee)" >> ~/.email_aliases

Make sure you use two greater-than signs, i.e. >>. If you use one only, all existing aliases will be replaced by the one you just added.

Now, next time you want to email Alice, just type alice in the prompt. Note that you don’t need to type out the whole alias: use tab to complete it.

There are options related to aliases you might want to look at: alias_file, alias_format, etc.. Check out Mutt’s manual which you can find on your system: /usr/share/doc/mutt/manual.txt.gz.

See also:

  1. Advanced Bash-Scripting Guide, An in-depth exploration of the art of shell scripting, Mendel Cooper; freely available↩︎

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