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What Is Pine?

Pine(TM) - a Program for Internet News and Email, is an electronic mail system created and maintained by the Computing & Communications group at the University of Washington. To help support Pine, a starter version of this document was created by C&C in 1994 for Pine 3.90. To meet local needs and conditions, modifications may have been made to either Pine or this document or both by local computer consultants.

Pine is a trademark of the University of Washington. Permission to use this document for non-commercial purposes, in original or modified form, is granted, provided that the original source of the document is acknowledged as University of Washington Computing & Communications and that this paragraph, as well as the notice above, are retained on the title page of any documentation based on this text.

Information for this page taken from: Pine Information Center

Starting Pine

Pine is located on the Sun platform. The currently installed version is 4.58.
At a unix prompt type: pine.

Quiting Pine

To quit: When you want to leave Pine, type Q (Quit). For details, see "Quitting Pine and Logging Out".

To quit Pine:
  1.  At almost any place in Pine, type Q (Quit).
     You are asked:
     Really quit pine?
  2.  Type y (yes) or press  to quit.

The Main Menu

The Main Menu lists Pine's main options (see Figure 1). The letter you must type to enter your choice is to the left of each option or command name. You can usually type either uppercase or lowercase letters, and you should not press to enter commands.

From the Main Menu, you can read online help, write and send a message, look at an index of your mail messages, open or maintain your mail folders, update your address book, configure or update Pine, and quit Pine.


PINE 4.03   MAIN MENU            Folder:INBOX   2 Messages

   ?   HELP             -    Get help using Pine

   C   COMPOSE MESSAGE  -    Compose and send a message

   I   FOLDER INDEX     -    View messages in current folder

   L   FOLDER LIST      -    Select a folder to view

   A   ADDRESS BOOK     -    Update address book

   S   SETUP            -    Configure or update Pine

   Q   QUIT             -    Exit the Pine program

Copyright 1989-1998. PINE is a trademark of the University of Washington.
                 [Folder "INBOX" opened with 2 messages]

 ?  Help                        P PrevCmd  R RelNotes
 O  OTHER CMDS  > [ListFldrs]   N NextCmd  K KBLock


Now that you know how to start Pine, you can explore on your own, or you can browse the rest of this document for a summary of Pine's main features.

Getting Help in Pine

To read the online help, use the Help command at the bottom of each screen. For example, at the Main Menu screen, type ? (Help). Because the help text is context sensitive, you never see all of it at once--only the part that relates to the Pine feature you are using. To exit the online help, type E (Exit Help).

Writing a Message in Pine

To write a message, type C (Compose) to see the Compose Message screen.


PINE 4.03  COMPOSE MESSAGE                        Folder:INBOX  2 Messages

To      :
Cc      :
Subject :
----- Message Text -----

^G Get Help ^X Send     ^R Rich Hdr ^Y PrvPg/Top ^K Cut Line   ^O Postpone
^C Cancel   ^D Del Char ^J Attach   ^V NxtPg/End ^U UnDel Line ^T To AddrBk


Figure 2. A Pine Compose Message Screen

In the command menu above, the ^ character is used to indicate the Control key.
This means you must hold down the Control key (written in this document as
) while you press the letter for each command.

Press G (Get Help) to see additional commands. To move around, use the
arrow keys or N (Next line) and  P (Previous line). To
correct errors, use  or .

You might start experimenting in Pine by sending yourself a message. The
following section shows you how.

Writing and Sending a Test Message to Yourself

To write and send a test message to yourself:

  1.  Type C (Compose) to see the Compose Message screen.

  2.  In the To: field, type your email address and press .

  3.  In the Cc: field, press .

  4.  In the Attachment: field, press .

  5.  In the Subject: field, type Test and press .

  6.  Below the Message Text line, type This is a test.

     If a user Jean Hughes at site whose userid is jhughes
     were to compose such a test message, the completed screen would look like
     the example below.


     PINE 4.03  COMPOSE MESSAGE                        Folder:INBOX  2 Messages

     To      : Jean Hughes 

     Cc      :
     Subject : Test
     ----- Message Text -----

     This is a test.

     ^G Get Help ^X Send    ^R Read File ^Y Prev Pg ^K Cut Text   ^O Postpone
     ^C Cancel   ^J Justify ^W Where is  ^V Next Pg ^U UnCut Text ^T To Spell

     Figure 3. A Pine Compose Message Screen

  7.  To send your message, press CTRL X (Send).

     You are asked:

     Send message?

  8.  Type y (yes) or press .

     The message is sent, and a copy is saved to your sent-mail folder. (If you
     type n (no) the message is not sent, and you can continue to work on it.)

This test message is very simple. There are, of course, other options you can
use as you compose a message. A few are summarized in the next section, and
complete information about options for the Compose Message screen is available
in online help. As you compose a message, you can press CNRL G (Get Help)
at any time to see details about your current task.

Hints for Writing a Message

     In this field, type the email addresses of your recipients. Separate the
     addresses with commas. When you are finished, press . Note that if
     you type in only the userid (login name) of your recipient, the Pine
     program assumes that the "right-hand part" of your recipient's address is
     the same as yours (e.g.,, unless you explicitly enter a
     different one. Always check the addresses in both the To: and the Cc:
     fields for accuracy and completeness before you send a message.

     Finding and Formatting Addresses. The best way to get a person's email
     address is to ask him or her for it. For more information on finding and
     formatting email addresses on local and remote computers, press G
     (Get Help) in the To: field.

     Using the Address Book. In both the To: and the Cc: fields, you can enter
     a person's email address manually, or you can use an entry from your Pine
     Address Book. See "Using the Address Book".

     In this field, type the email addresses of the persons to whom you want to
     send copies. Separate their addresses with commas. When you are finished,
     or if you do not want to send any copies, press .

     This is an advanced Pine feature that allows you to attach files,
     including word processing documents, spreadsheets, or images that exist on
     the same computer where you are running Pine. If you do not want to attach
     a file to your message, press RETURN. For more information, with your
     cursor in the Attchmnt: field, press CTRL G (Get Help).

     In this field, enter a one-line description of your message. A short,
     pertinent description is appreciated by the recipients, since this is what
     they see when they scan their email index. When finished, press RETURN.

Message Text:
     Type your message. To move around, use the arrow keys. To delete
     characters, press  or . To delete a line, press
     CTRL K. To justify your text, press CTRL J. To check your
     spelling, press CTRL T. To see other editing commands, press
     CTRL G (Get Help).

     Inserting a Plain Text File. If you want to send a "plain text" file with
     your message, you can insert the file in the body of your message using
     the CTRL R (Read in a File) command. Plain text files are files
     created by text editors such as Pico, the editor you use when you compose
     a Pine message. For information about inserting files, with your cursor in
     the Message Text: field, press CTRL G (Get Help).

Hints for Sending a Message

Sending a Message.
     After your message is composed, press CTRL X, and then type y or press
     RETURN. Your message is sent and a copy is saved to the sent-mail
     folder. If a message cannot be delivered, it eventually is returned to
     you. If you want to re-send a message, you can use the F (Forward)

Changing Your Mind.
     If you change your mind after typing CTRL X), type n instead of y to
     continue to work on your message. While you are writing your message, you
     can press CTRL O (Postpone) to hold your message so you can work on it
     later, or you can press CTRL C (Cancel) to delete your message
     entirely. You are asked to confirm whether or not you want to cancel a

Listing Messages

Pine stores messages sent to you (including those you send to yourself) in your INBOX folder. Messages remain in your INBOX folder until you delete them or save them in other folders. (You will learn more about the INBOX and other folders in "Pine Folders".)

To see a list of the messages you have received in your INBOX folder:

   *  At the Pine Main Menu, type I (Folder Index).

     If you have any messages, they are listed as shown in the following
     example for the user named "jhughes."

See "Moving Between Folders" if you want to list the messages in a folder other
than your INBOX.


PINE 4.03       FOLDER INDEX      Folder:INBOX    Message 3 of 3 NEW

  D 1 Jan 10  Mu Li                 (486) Proposal
+ A 2 Jan 10  Christine Smith       (500) NSF
+ N 3 Jan 11  To: jhughes           (448) Test

? Help       < FldrList   P PrevMsg  -   Prev Page  D Delete    R Reply
O OTHER CMDS > [ViewMsg]  N NextMsg  Spc Next Page  U Undelete  F Forward
Figure 4. A Pine Folder Index Screen

The selected message is highlighted. The first column on the left shows the message status. It may be blank, or it may contain "N" if the message is new (unread), "+" if the message was sent directly to you (it is not a copy or from a list), "A" if you have answered the message (using the Reply command), or "D" if you have marked the message for deletion. The rest of the columns in the message line show you the message number, date sent, sender, size, and subject. For details, press ? (Help).

Most of the commands you need to handle your messages are listed at the bottom of the screen. You can type O (Other Commands) to see the additional commands that are available. You do not need to see these commands on the screen to use them. That is, you never need to type O as a prefix for any other command.

Viewing a Message

To view a message:

  1.  At the Folder Index screen, use the arrow keys to highlight the message
     you want to view.

  2.  Type V (ViewMsg) or press  to read a selected message.

     To see the next message, press N (NextMsg).

     To return to the index, press I (Index).

Replying to a Message

To reply to a message that you have selected at the Folder Index screen or that you are viewing:

   *  Type R (Reply).

     You are asked whether you want to include the original message in your
     reply. Also, if the original message was sent to more than one person, you
     are asked if you want to reply to all recipients. Think carefully before
     you answer--it may be that you do not want your reply to be sent to more
     than just the author of the message. It is always a good idea to verify
     that the addresses in the To: and Cc: fields are correct before you send a

Pine Folders

Incoming messages may quickly accumulate in your INBOX folder. Imagine what it would be like to find one hundred messages there. If you use email often, this may happen sooner than you expect. How should you organize the messages you wish to save?

Organizing Messages With Folders

A Pine folder, like a folder in your file cabinet, is a storage place for messages. As you use email, you accumulate many messages and can organize them into different folders by topic, correspondent, date, or any other category that is meaningful to you. You can create your own folders, and Pine automatically provides three:

   *  The INBOX folder--messages sent to you are listed in this folder. When
     you first start Pine and go to the Folder Index screen, you are looking at
     the list of messages in your INBOX folder. Every incoming message remains
     in your INBOX until you delete it or save it in another folder.

   *  The saved-messages folder--copies of messages you save are stored in this
     folder unless you save them to other folders you create yourself. See
     "Saving a Message".

  *  The sent-mail folder--copies of messages you send are automatically
     stored in this folder. This is convenient if you cannot remember whether
     you actually sent a message or if you want to send a message again.

Keeping Folders Clean

Messages--whether they are in your INBOX or your other Pine folders--occupy storage space, and your storage space is limited.

   *  Check your email frequently to see if you have any new messages.

     Do not keep too many messages in your INBOX folder. A large INBOX reduces
     performance: it takes longer to display large lists of messages when you
     start Pine, and it requires more time to move between messages.

     Delete your incoming messages right away if you do not want them, or save
     them to other folders if you do.

   *  Routinely delete obsolete messages from all of your Pine folders.

   *  You will get a monthly message via Pine that asks if you want to delete
     entire sent-mail folders (and all the messages they contain) from previous
     months. To conserve space, it is a good idea to do this. If you choose to
     delete such sent mail, type y.

Moving Between Folders

When you start Pine and press I (Index) at the Main Menu, you see a list of messages in your INBOX folder. If you want to see the messages in another folder, you need to go to that folder. The following text shows you two ways to go to another folder from nearly anywhere in Pine.

To access your folders and the messages that are stored in them:

  1.  Type L (Folder List).

     You see a Folder List screen like the following, in which your current
     folder is highlighted. (When you start Pine, the current folder is your


     PINE 4.03       FOLDER LIST     Folder:INBOX     3 Messages

     INBOX        sent-mail       saved-messages        101class

     ? Help       < Main Menu  P PrevCltn  -   PrevPage
     O OTHER CMDS > [ViewFldr] N NextCltn  Spc NextPage          W WhereIs

     Figure 5. A Pine Folder List Screen

  2.  Use the arrow keys to highlight a folder.

  3.  To see an index of the messages in that folder, type V (ViewFldr) or
     press .

Note that this method of moving between folders takes you to the Folder List screen, which has a menu of commands that enable you to do such things as add, delete, and rename folders. If you simply want to move to and list the massages in another folder, try the method below.

To move most quickly to the index of another folder:

  1.  Type G (Goto Fldr). You are prompted for the name of a folder.

  2.  Type the folder name.

     If you forget the name of the folder, press CTRL T (ToFldrs) and
     select a folder using the commands at the bottom of the screen.

  3.  Press RETURN.

     You see the list of messages in the folder.

Deleting a Folder

To delete a folder and all of the messages it contains:

  1.  Type L (Folder List).

  2.  Use the arrow keys to highlight a folder.

  3.  To delete the entire folder of messages, type D (Delete).

     You are asked:

     Really delete "folder"?

  4.  Type y (yes) if you want to delete the folder and all of its messages.

     The folder disappears. There is no way to undelete a deleted folder.

Saving a Message

When you save a message, you are given a choice: you can store it in the saved- messages folder, or you can specify another folder.

Once you save a message, the copy in the INBOX folder is automatically marked for deletion so that you will only have one copy. When you quit Pine, you are asked to confirm whether or not you want to expunge the copy from the INBOX folder. To conserve space, it is a good idea to do this.

Saving a Message to the Saved-Messages Folder

To save a message to the saved-messages folder:

  1.  At the Index screen, use the arrow keys to [Folder "INBOX" opened with 2
     messages] the message you want to save, or, at the Message Text screen as
     you view a message:

     Type S (Save).

     You are asked if you want to save the message to the saved-messages folder
     or to another folder:

     SAVE to folder [saved-messages]:

  2.  Press  to choose the default folder: ["saved-messages"].

     Pine saves your message, and you see the following:

     [Message "#" copied to folder "saved-messages" and marked deleted]

Saving a Message to a Folder You Specify

You will find it useful to create additional folders for storing messages on particular subjects.

To save a message to a folder you specify:

  1.  At the Folder Index screen, use the arrow keys to highlight the message
     you want to save, or, at the Message Text screen as you view a message:

     Type S (Save) to save a message.

     You are asked if you want to save it to the saved-messages folder or
     another folder:

     SAVE to folder [saved-messages]:

  2.  Type a foldername and press RETURN.

     For example, to save a message to a folder named "papers," type papers and
     press RETURN.

     If this is the first time you have named this folder, you see the message:

     Folder "papers" doesn't exist. Create?

     Type y or press RETURN to create the folder.

     Once you have created the folder, or whenever you type the name of a
     folder that already exists, you see a message like this one:

     [Message "#" copied to folder "papers" and marked deleted]

Forwarding a Message

To forward to a message that you have selected at the Folder Index screen or that you are viewing:

  1.  Type F (Forward).

     A copy of the message opens and the To: field is highlighted.

  2.  Enter the address of your recipient and send the message as usual. Note
     that you can modify the original message if you wish, for example, to
     forward only a portion of it or to add a message or notes of your own.

Deleting a Message

You keep your Pine folders clean by routinely deleting messages. There are two steps to deleting a message: marking it for deletion, then expunging it.

To mark for deletion a message you do not want:

  1.  Select and open the folder that contains the message you wish to mark for
     deletion. If you are a Pine beginner, this is probably your INBOX folder.
     See "Moving Between Folders", if the message you want to mark for deletion
     is in a folder other than your INBOX.

  2.  At the Folder Index screen, select the message you want to mark for
     deletion, or simply view the message.

  3.  Type D (Delete).

     If you are looking at the Folder Index screen when you mark a message for
     deletion, a "D" appears in the left-hand column of the message line.

     If you are looking at the Message Text screen when you mark a message for
     deletion, a "DEL appears in the upper right corner of your screen. The
     next message, if there is one, appears.

Repeat this process to mark additional messages for deletion.

Undeleting a Message

If you change your mind about a message you have marked for deletion, use the U (Undelete) command to remove the deletion mark any time before you expunge a message. After you expunge a message, Pine cannot get it back.

Expunging a Message

A message that is marked for deletion remains in Pine until you expunge it. You can expunge a message that is marked for deletion at any time, or you can wait until you quit Pine. Once you have a few messages marked for deletion, you may want to expunge them before you continue to work, because it is easier to look through a folder index that contains fewer messages.

To expunge a message:

  1.  At the Folder Index screen, type X (Expunge).

     You are asked:

     Expunge "#" message(s) from "folder"?

  2.  Type y (yes) or press .

     Messages marked for deletion disappear.

Note that you will be asked whether you want to expunge messages that are marked for deletion when you leave a folder (other than the INBOX) that contains messages marked for deletion, or when you quit your Pine session.

Using the Address Book

As you use email, you build a list of email correspondents. Some of their addresses may be difficult to type or remember. You can use the Pine Address Book to store email addresses for individuals or groups, to create easily remembered "nicknames" for these addresses, and to quickly retrieve an email address when you are composing a message. Here is a sample page from an Address Book:


PINE 4.03       ADDRESS BOOK    Folder:INBOX     Message 1 of 3

gomez   Gonzalez, George
mu      Li, Mu    
chris   Smith, Christine K.
rt      Research Team       DISTRIBUTION LIST:

? Help       < MainMenu       P PrevEntry    - PrevPage  D Delete  C ComposeTo
O OTHER CMDS > [View/Update]  N NextEntry  Spc NextPage  @ Add     W WhereIs

Figure 6. A Pine Address Book Screen

There are two ways to set up an individual address in your Address Book. You can add an address manually or take it more easily from an incoming message. With either method, you specify nicknames for your correspondents. You can also set up a group (list) address in your Address Book, but only manually.

Adding an Individual Address

To add an individual address manually:

  1.  Note the address.

  2.  At the Pine Main Menu, type A (Address Book).

  3.  Type A (Add).

  4.  Follow the instructions. (Press CTRL G if you need help.)
    1. Taking an Individual Address From an Incoming Message

To take an individual address from a message you are viewing or have selected in the index:

  1.  Type T (Take Address). The T command is not visible on your screen unless
     you type O (Other Commands), but you need not see it to use it.

  2.  Follow the instructions. (Press CTRL G if you need help.)

Adding a Group (List) Address

If you routinely send messages to a group, you can create a list address. That way you do not need to type each person's address every time you send a message to the group.

To create a list address:

  1.  At the Pine Main Menu, type A (Address Book).

  2.  Type S (CreateList).

  3.  Follow the instructions. (Press CTRL G if you need help.)

Using Address Book Entries When Composing Email

When composing a message, at the To: or the Cc: (Carbon Copy) fields you can enter an email address in any of the following ways:

   *  Type the entire email address.

   *  Type a nickname you have set up in the Address Book.

     For example, if your Address Book looked like the one in Figure 6, you
     could type the following nickname in the To: field:


    After you pressed RETURN, Pine would provide the full address for Mu
     from the Address Book as follows:

     To: Mu Li <>

   *  Select a name from the Address Book:

     Move to the Address Book (with your cursor in the To: or Cc: field press
     T) and use the arrow keys to highlight the name you want. Type S
     (Select) or press .

Additional Pine Options

Pine offers other options. To use them, at the Pine Main Menu, type S (Setup). You see a message asking you to choose from the options below or cancel:

   *  Printer--Choose a printer for Pine messages.
             --You will need to setup PRINTER and LPDEST variables.

   *  Newpassword--Change your account password while still in Pine.
                 --This will change your password for your account the next time you login.

   *  Config (Setup Configuration)--Select additional options.

   *  Update--Update Pine. Includes technical notes and PC-Pine information.

   *  Signature--Setup a signature block for use with Pine.

The option allowing you to choose a printer is especially useful and is described in the following section.

Choosing Printer Variables

You will want to go into setup and select P for print. When you are asked to pick type of printing (1-3) slect 2 for Standard Unix Print Command. You will also need to set up environment variables at a prompt or in your .cshrc file to select the printer:

  setenv LPDEST eb1328ps1

Printing a Message

Once you have chosen the printer variables, to print messages from either the Folder Index screen or the View Message screen, type Y (Print). You will be asked to confirm your choice.

Note that you can also use this command to print Pine's online help text.

Pine Can Do More

Pine has other useful features that have not been covered in this introductory document. Although originally designed for novice email users, Pine has evolved to support many advanced features. It has become an easy-to-use program for sending, receiving, and filing Internet electronic mail messages and bulletin board (Netnews) messages including multimedia attachments. There is also a PC version of Pine for use with IMAP mail servers. If you would like to learn more about Pine:

   *  Try all of the commands at the bottom of each Pine screen, including the
     ones that appear when you type O (OTHER CMDS).

   *  Read Pine's online help often. It contains tips to help you at every
     stage of learning Pine. Read about different functions, even those you do
     not use yet.

   *  Check out the original Pine site at

   *  For more advanced information, see the online Unix Manual entries for
     Pine and Pico. In addition, at the Pine Main Menu, choose R for release

Your local system managers may have customized Pine to suit specific needs, and they may or may not offer all of Pine's ever-growing set of configuration and personal-preference options. Thus, your local system managers are a good source of information about additional Pine features.

Guidelines for using Email

Electronic mail is a unique medium of communication. Messages can be replied to or forwarded with speed and ease, and email has the potential to reach a wide audience. These features can also be misused. There are a few basic guidelines for the responsible use of email that can help you avoid common mistakes while you enjoy the full benefits of this technology.

The privacy of an email message cannot be guaranteed. An email message may be forwarded, printed, or permanently stored by any recipient. Email can be misdirected, even when you are careful. Do not put something in an email message that you would not want read by everybody. And if you receive a message intended for someone else, let the sender know.

Email does not show the subtleties of voice or body language. Avoid attempts at irony or sarcasm. The most effective email is short, clear, and relevant. If you receive a message that makes you upset, do not respond immediately, and in any case, avoid "flaming," that is, sending an angry or rude message.

Email Tips

As you use email, keep the following tips in mind:

   *  Email is easily forwarded to someone else. Although this is convenient,
     it is not always appropriate. If you are unsure, ask the sender before you
     forward a message.

   *  Email replies may go to more people than you realize. When replying to a
     message, be sure to look at the list of recipients.

   *  Email can be junk mail, so avoid unnecessary proliferation of messages.

   *  Email takes up computer space, so delete messages you no longer need.

   *  The integrity of an email message cannot be guaranteed. If a received
     message seems out of character for the sender, double-check before taking
     it seriously.

   *  Email is meant for informal correspondence as well as scholarly,
     scientific, and clinical communications. You should not use email for
     official record purposes where a memo would be required (e.g., personnel
     actions, organization changes, contracts, and policy statements).

   *  Email should not be considered private. Confidential information should
     not be sent by email.