Outgoing Mail Preferences

When you click the Mail ... option, the Outgoing Mail Preferences dialog appears.

Figure: Outgoing Mail Preferences Dialog

The Outgoing Mail Preferences window lets you specify how messages are encoded, into which folders mail is copied when sent, which mail delivery command to use, whether to validate addresses before use, and handling of extremely large messages.

Explicit help is available in the Help pull-down menu for each of the parameters that can be customized. From the Help pull-down menu, select the On Context function, then move the cursor over the item of interest and click the mouse.


Since MIME messages ultimately encode all data as plain ASCII text, MIME-formatted messages can be read using any mail tool. However, the data format may not be very readable. The Outgoing mail type option lets you enhance MIME message readability for people using non-MIME tools. There four options. The option you set in the Outgoing Mail Preferences dialog becomes the default.

Plain text
The message is sent with all MIME formatting and attachments stripped from it. This is the ultimate in backward compatibility though, of course, you lose all the advanced MIME features.

The message is sent as a MIME message.

MIME with plain text alternative if necessary
Similar to the MIME option, the message is sent as plain text unless it needs MIME formatting. It differs in that a plain text alternative is included in front of a MIME message. The plain text alternative is the message text with all MIME attributes stripped, like the Plain text option. Recipients without MIME-capability will see the plain text alternative, and can ignore the following copy of the message with encoded MIME data. MIME-capable mail tools will automatically skip the plain text alternative part and utilize the MIME encoded data. So, this is the best of both, allowing maximum backward compatibility while not losing MIME capability. However, the message can be much larger, up to double the size, due to the duplicate copies of the message in different formats.

You can override the default encoding option by resetting its value in the Message type: selection box at the bottom of the composition window.

Character set

You can specify the character set that will be used to display the message. The ISO-8859 character sets are supported. You can type the name of a character set into the field, or click the button to the right of the field and pick a character set from the resulting pop-up list.

Changing the character set has two effects. First, it changes how the text appears in the Composition window. Second, a character set parameter is added to the message when it is sent. If this parameter is recognized and handled by the recipient's mail tool, your message should appear as you typed it. There's no guarantee, however, that the recipient's system will have the appropriate fonts installed to show the character set you have chosen.

Ishmail supports MIME RFC 1522, which means that 8-bit ASCII characters can be used in message headers. The character set you choose here applies to the headers (Subject:, To:, etc.) as well as the message body.

Encoding for 8-bit characters

For compatibility with all mail transport systems, use of character sets in mail messages, as they are sent over the network, must be limited to 7-bit ASCII. This is true even if both the sender and recipient have no trouble with 8-bit characters, since an intermediate network through which the message passes on its way to its destination may have a limitation of 7-bit characters. The MIME standard provides several methods for encoding data so that it appears, while in transit, as 7-bit ASCII.

In this window, you can specify which encoding option to use for 8-bit characters in the message body, and potentially a different encoding option for 8-bit characters in the headers. The choices for the body are:

The choices for the headers are:

The choices for each are not exactly the same, since the standards specifications were developed by different people at different times.

Copy outgoing messages

You can have messages copied automatically to a folder at the time they are sent. You can use the same folder each time, or specify a folder name based on one of the following:

The folder name will be the recipient's user name, as specified in the To: field. If there are multiple names in the To: field, the message is copied to multiple folders (the Cc: and Bcc: fields are not included). For example, if you send mail to greg@ishmail.com, the message will be copied to the folder called greg.

This is similar to the User option, except that the folder name is the whole e-mail address. For example, if you send mail to greg@ishmail.com, the message will be copied to the folder called greg@ishmail.com. This is useful if you correspond with people in different organizations who have the same user name.

You can use links (the UNIX ln command) to give alias names to folders. For example, you may want to make greg and greg@ishmail.com be the same folder, while greg@osf.org is a different folder.

Use this option to group outgoing mail by year. The folder name will be year.[year], for example, year.1995.

Use this option to group outgoing mail by month. The folder name will be month.[year].[01-12], for example, month.1995.05.

Use this option to group outgoing mail by day of the month. The folder name will be day.[year].[01-12].[01-31], for example, day.1995.05.30.

Use this option to group outgoing mail by week in the year. The folder name will be week.[year].[01-52], for example, week.1995.21.

If you want to use the same folder each time, you specify the name of that folder. Note that if the first character of the folder name is a + or an =, this is substituted with the name of your folder directory (as specified in the Application-related Preferences dialog), which is typically $HOME/Mail.

If you specify the folder name as a variable, you also need to specify the folder directory. This can be a full path name or a name relative to your home directory.

Confirm use of mail addresses

Sometimes mail is sent that includes a Cc: to a mail alias containing a large number of recipients, such as your entire organization. You may reply to such a message, intending only to send mail to the originator, but inadvertently select Reply All:. This causes you reply to be broadcast to a much wider audience than you intended. To guard against this kind of embarrassment, you can specify mail aliases, which if used, cause a confirmation prompt to be shown.

Type the names of mail aliases you want to be careful about using into the Confirm mail to these addresses field. The field will show a vertical scroll bar if you enter more lines than fit in the field.

Another use for this field is to catch common typing mistakes. For example, if you find that you tend to reverse two letters in a mail address you frequently use, put the misspelled address in this field.

Additional mail headers

You may want to add extra mail headers to your mail message, for example:

Any mail headers you enter into this field will be included in every subsequent message you send.

Ishmail doesn't check the validity of information you specify here. You are responsible for using valid header names and spelling them correctly.

Mail delivery command

This is the name of the mail transport command Ishmail uses to send mail. The default is the sendmail command. You may want to use a different command. Or, the sendmail command may be in a different directory on your system, and you just need to change the path name.

Ishmail passes two parameters to the sendmail command: -oi and -oem. If the message is being sent in multiple pieces, the -odi parameter is added also.

After the parameters the recipients' addresses are added, each enclosed in single quote characters. This allows addresses to have embedded double quotes and blanks (spaces).

After the addresses, a < symbol is added followed by the path name of a temporary file which holds the complete message.

If you want to use a mail transport command which accepts different parameters than sendmail, you can put the name of a wrapper command here. For example, this can be the name of a shell script that converts the parameters to the format required before passing them on to the other command.

Save interrupted messages to a file

If you have been composing a message but you close the Composition window without first sending the message, the message will be saved to the file you specify in the Save interrupted messages to file field.

You can disable this function by setting the toggle button Off.

Split large outgoing messages

Another preference you can control from this window is the handling of large messages. MIME messages can be very large, particularly if they include image files or audio files. Some older mail transport systems cannot handle huge messages and may truncate them or refuse to process them. Your messages may pass through many networks on the way to their ultimate destination. If any of the intermediate networks cannot handle huge messages, you will have a problem.

The MIME protocol has a solution for this problem. Outgoing messages can be automatically split into two or more parts, and reassembled into a single message by the recipient's MIME mail reader. You can specify whether messages are split, and if so, how large the pieces should be. The default size (100,000 bytes) is a standard size which should pass through any network.

When you apply changes, Ishmail asks whether to use the folder list preferences for the current session only, or for current and future sessions.

Check Addresses Before Mailing

Toggle this button On to cause Ishmail to use the sendmail command's address checking option to validate that the address(es) in your message are valid. This will prevent mail from bouncing, but it may take a long time to do the checking depending on the address and how you are connected to the Internet.

If you leave this option disabled, and a message you send bounces, use the Resend function to bounce it back again after you have determined the correct address. You do not need to re-compose the message.

Preceding Section:
Composition Window Preferences
Following Section: Reply/Forward Preferences
Parent Section: Composition Options Menu
Contents of Ishmail User's Guide