Using PINE

This article gives an overview of the PINE mailer. It illustrates how to view and send mail using PINE. It also show you how to customize PINE in order to send mail to groups of users. For complete documentation, visit Pine's web site.

The following text is from the PINE online help:

Pine® - a Program for Internet News & Email - is a tool for reading, sending, and managing electronic messages. Pine was developed by Computing & Communications at the University of Washington. Though originally designed for inexperienced email users, Pine has evolved to support many advanced features, and an ever-growing number of configuration and personal-preference options. Pine is available for Unix as well as for personal computers running a Microsoft operating system (PC-Pine).

Starting PINE

To start PINE, type the following command at the Linux system prompt:

> pine

When you start PINE, you will see the main menu shown below:

          ?     HELP               -  Get help using Pine             

C COMPOSE MESSAGE - Compose and send a message

I MESSAGE INDEX - View messages in current folder

L FOLDER LIST - Select a folder to view

A ADDRESS BOOK - Update address book

S SETUP - Configure Pine Options

Q QUIT - Leave the Pine program


In PINE, the last two lines of the screen are always used to display available commands:

? Help       < FldrList   P PrevMsg       - PrevPage D Delete     R Reply       
O OTHER CMDS > [ViewMsg] N NextMsg Spc NextPage U Undelete F Forward

Press a letter key (shown to the left of each command) to give the command. You can get help or go back to the main menu from any screen.

When a letter command on the bottom of the screen includes a "^", like this:

^G Help

This means you should press and hold the CTRL key, then press the appropriate letter key. Release the two keys simultaneously. In this document, key sequences such as this one are shown like this: <Ctrl-G>.

Reading Mail with PINE

When you first enter PINE, the FOLDER LIST option is highlighted on the main menu. Press <Enter> or the letter L to display a list of your folders.

Use the arrow keys to move to the folder you want to open, then press <Enter>. Note: New mail is located in the INBOX folder.

When you have chosen a folder, the mail messages in that folder will be listed on the screen, like this:

+     1 Jul 17 Transportation Ser  (3951) Parking Assignments are Available Now!
2 Apr 28 Toni Schulze (237K) Fwd: 2004-05 parking information
+ 3 Apr 29 Parking Permits (3211) Parking Renewal - Deadline May 28
+ 4 Jul 29 Parking Permits (2622) 2004-2005 Parking Assignments
+ N 5 Aug 2 Transportation Ser (1633) Confirmation Receipt

                   [Folder "Parking" opened with 5 messages]
? Help < FldrList P PrevMsg - PrevPage D Delete R Reply
O OTHER CMDS > [ViewMsg] N NextMsg Spc NextPage U Undelete F Forward

Reading mail is easy. Using the arrow keys, highlight the mail message you want to read and press <Enter>.

Use the commands shown at the bottom of the screen to manipulate the messages you are reading. Press D to delete the message. Press F to forward the message. Press S to save the message to another folder. Press R to reply to the message.

Some commands require you to supply additional information. Simply respond to the prompts on the screen to complete the action you have requested.

Viewing attachments

Viewing a message with an attachment looks something like:

Date: Fri, 18 Feb 2005 09:18:59 -0600
From: Deb Brauer <>
To: Nancy McDermott <>
Subject: Re: tip of the month for next month
1 Shown 2 lines Text
2 OK 26 KB Application
It's a story now. Keep it on file until the next edition.
Deb [ Part 2, Application/MSWORD 35KB. ]
[ Not Shown. Use the "V" command to view or save this part. ]

Instructions on how to manipulate the attached file are displayed on the screen. To view the file, press >. To save the attachment to a file outside of mail, type S while viewing the attachment. To exit the attachment view and return to the message, type <. Type I to return to the Folder Message Index.

Sending Mail

Press C to compose a new message. You'll see a screen similar to the one below:

To      : 
Cc :
Subject :
----- Message Text -----
-- John Doe University of Wisconsin-Madison

Use the arrow keys to move the cursor from one field to the next. In the To: and Cc: fields, you may enter as many addresses as you wish, but they must be separated by commas. If the person is a member of the SSCC, just enter their username. If the person is located outside the SSCC, type the complete Internet address.

If you wish, you may specify a binary file in the Attachmnt: field which will be included with the message. For instance, you could include a WordPerfect file. The file must reside on the computer where you are running PINE. If the file is on a PC or a Mac and you run PINE on Linux, you must transfer the file before attaching it.

When your cursor is in the Message Text area, the words -- Message Text -- will be highlighted on the screen. Start typing the text of your message. PINE comes with its own editor which provides word-wrapping and spell checking. Use Help (<Ctrl-G>) for information at any time. When you are ready to send the message, press <Ctrl-X>.


PINE help is context-sensitive and invoked by typing ?. This means that each PINE screen has its own help text, explaining the choices available for that screen. When you request help while on the PINE Main Menu, you will not only receive a description of the specific commands available from the Main Menu, but also an overview of PINE.

Address Book

Pine's address book helps you keep a list of addresses you send mail to so you do not have to remember addresses that are often complex. Each entry in the address book has four fields:

NICKNAME: A short easy-to-remember label to identify the entry. This is what you type in as you are addressing the message in the composer. If there is a matching entry in your address book(s), Pine will extract the corresponding FullName and Address fields to generate the actual address for your message.

FULLNAME: A longer field where you can put the full name of the person or organization. Usually the full names are put in last name first so they sort nicely in alphabetical order. Whatever you put as the name here will appear on the message when it is finally delivered. This field is optional.

ADDRESS: This is the actual email address itself. This must be a valid Internet address. (There is more information on email addresses a little later in this section.)

COMMENTS: This field contains arbitrary text for your convenience. This field is optional.

Beginning or adding to your address book

To begin or add an address to your address book, choose ADDRESS BOOK from the PINE Main Menu. Then type @ and respond to the following prompts:

Nickname  : 
Fullname :
Fcc :
Comment :
Addresses :

When you have finished entering this information, press <Ctrl-X> to save the entry and return to the address book list.

Viewing/Updating your address book

If an Address Book already exists for your account, you will see a list like this when you choose Address Book from the Main Menu:

sam       westcott, sam   
barbw Whitney, Barb
holly Wilson, Holly
cy Young, Christine
consul    consul                     DISTRIBUTION LIST:

To edit an entry, use your cursor keys to highlight the entry, press V to view the entry, and then press U if you wish to update it.

Composing messages from the Address book screen

You may also use the Address Book screen as a short-cut for composing messages to people in your address book. To do this, highlight the desired address entry from the address list and type C to compose a message

Distribution Lists

The only difference between a distribution list and a simple entry with a single address, is that a distribution list has more than one address listed in the Addresses: field, whereas a simple personal entry has just one address. Each e-mail address must be seaparated by a comma. Otherwise, the commands above in the sections for adding, viewing, and updating are identical for distribution lists.

Distribution lists in PINE address books can only be used by the person or people who have access to that address book. They are not usually used to implement discussion groups, but can be used to facilitate small discussion groups if all the participants have access to the same shared address book.

Valid Email Addresses

When you enter an email address into the address field of your address book you are giving PINE an address that it must be able to actually reach. The address you enter here must be a valid address which is reachable from your site. If it is not, you will get an error message after sending the message.

Adding Addresses with Take Address

Take Address allows you to extract the email addresses from a message which was sent to you and save it in your address book. This is an easy way to add to your address book and avoid having to remember the email addresses of the people who write to you.

To use Take Address, type T while the message is displayed. If the message has been sent just to you individually, then you will only need to provide a nickname for the address book entry. PINE attempts to extract the full name and email address from the message, if it can get it, you verify this information. You may enter or change the full name and address at the prompts.

If the message you want to take the address from is more complicated (for instance, with more than one recipient or an email list involved), then you will see an address selection screen which lets you choose the address you want to save into your address book, or add several of them to a personal address list.

Printing Mail in PINE

Before you can print mail from PINE, you must configure a printer using SETUP. Follow the steps below:

  1. From the PINE Main Menu screen, highlight SETUP and press <Enter>.
  2. Type P to set up a printer.
  3. Scroll down the page to the next screen until Personally selected print command is highlighted and press S to select it.
  4. When prompted for the name of the printer, type in a nickname of your choice for the print command.
  5. Next you will be prompted to enter the command for the printer. Enter the appropriate printer command. You should use the enscript command, not the lpr command. For example: enscript -P 4218 or enscript -P user2double
  6. Press S command to select this printer as your default printer.

Now you could add another printer or exit the printer configuration. You will be prompted to save the changes made.

Printing a message

When your printer has been configured, you can print mail messages either while viewing a folder list, or while reading a message. In an open folder, simply highlight the message you want printed. To print a message from either place, press %. A message will appear at the bottom of the screen when the print command has been completed.

Last Revised: 2/28/2005