xmh - send and read mail with an X interface to MH


xmh [-path mailpath] [-initial foldername] [-flag] [-toolkitoption ...]


The xmh program provides a graphical user interface to the MH Message Handling System. To actually do things with your mail, it makes calls to the MH package. Electronic mail messages may be composed, sent, received, replied to, forwarded, sorted, and stored in folders. xmh provides extensive mechanism for customization of the user interface.

This document introduces many aspects of the Athena Widget Set.


-path directory
 This option specifies an alternate collection of mail folders in which to process mail. The directory is specified as an absolute pathname. The default mail path is the value of the Path component in the MH profile, which is determined by the MH environment variable and defaults to $HOME/.mh_profile. $HOME/Mail will be used as the path if the MH Path is not given in the profile.
-initial folder
 This option specifies an alternate folder which may receive new mail and is initially opened by xmh. The default initial folder is ‘‘inbox’’.
-flag This option will cause xmh to change the appearance of appropriate folder buttons and to request the window manager to change the appearance of the xmh icon when new mail has arrived. By default, xmh will change the appearance of the ‘‘inbox’’ folder button when new mail is waiting. The application-specific resource checkNewMail can be used to turn off this notification, and the -flag option will still override it.
These three options have corresponding application-specific resources, MailPath, InitialFolder, and MailWaitingFlag, which can be specified in a resource file.

The standard toolkit command line options are given in X(7).


xmh requires that the user is already set up to use MH, version 6. To do so, see if there is a file called .mh_profile in your home directory. If it exists, check to see if it contains a line that starts with ‘‘Current-Folder’’. If it does, you’ve been using version 4 or earlier of MH; to convert to version 6, you must remove that line. (Failure to do so causes spurious output to stderr, which can hang xmh depending on your setup.)

If you do not already have a .mh_profile, you can create one (and everything else you need) by typing ‘‘inc’’ to the shell. You should do this before using xmh to incorporate new mail.

For more information, refer to the mh(1) documentation.

Much of the user interface of xmh is configured in the Xmh application class defaults file; if this file was not installed properly a warning message will appear when xmh is used. xmh is backwards compatible with the R4 application class defaults file.

The default value of the SendBreakWidth resource has changed since R4.


xmh starts out with a single window, divided into four major areas:

- Six buttons with pull-down command menus.
- A collection of buttons, one for each top level folder. New users of MH will have two folders, ‘‘drafts’’ and ‘‘inbox’’.
- A listing, or Table of Contents, of the messages in the open folder. Initially, this will show the messages in ‘‘inbox’’.
- A view of one of your messages. Initially this is blank.


xmh uses the X Toolkit Intrinsics and the Athena Widget Set. Many of the features described below (scrollbars, buttonboxes, etc.) are actually part of the Athena Widget Set, and are described here only for completeness. For more information, see the Athena Widget Set documentation.


Some parts of the main window will have a vertical area on the left containing a grey bar. This area is a scrollbar. They are used whenever the data in a window takes up more space than can be displayed. The grey bar indicates what portion of your data is visible. Thus, if the entire length of the area is grey, then you are looking at all your data. If only the first half is grey, then you are looking at the top half of your data. The message viewing area will have a horizontal scrollbar if the text of the message is wider than the viewing area.

You can use the pointer in the scrollbar to change what part of the data is visible. If you click with pointer button 2, the top of the grey area will move to where the pointer is, and the corresponding portion of data will be displayed. If you hold down pointer button 2, you can drag around the grey area. This makes it easy to get to the top of the data: just press with button 2, drag off the top of the scrollbar, and release.

If you click with button 1, then the data to the right of the pointer will scroll to the top of the window. If you click with pointer button 3, then the data at the top of the window will scroll down to where the pointer is.


Any area containing many words or short phrases, each enclosed in a rectangular or rounded boundary, is called a buttonbox. Each rectangle or rounded area is actually a button that you can press by moving the pointer onto it and pressing pointer button 1. If a given buttonbox has more buttons in it than can fit, it will be displayed with a scrollbar, so you can always scroll to the button you want.

Some buttons have pull-down menus. Pressing the pointer button while the pointer is over one of these buttons will pull down a menu. Continuing to hold the button down while moving the pointer over the menu, called dragging the pointer, will highlight each selectable item on the menu as the pointer passes over it. To select an item in the menu, release the pointer button while the item is highlighted.


If you’re not satisfied with the sizes of the various areas of the main window, they can easily be changed. Near the right edge of the border between each region is a black box, called a grip. Simply point to that grip with the pointer, press a pointer button, drag up or down, and release. Exactly what happens depends on which pointer button you press.

If you drag with the pointer button 2, then only that border will move. This mode is simplest to understand, but is the least useful.

If you drag with pointer button 1, then you are adjusting the size of the window above. xmh will attempt to compensate by adjusting some window below it.

If you drag with pointer button 3, then you are adjusting the size of the window below. xmh will attempt to compensate by adjusting some window above it.

All windows have a minimum and maximum size; you will never be allowed to move a border past the point where it would make a window have an invalid size.


This section will define the concepts of the selected folder, current folder, selected message(s), current message, selected sequence, and current sequence. Each xmh command is introduced.

For use in customization, action procedures corresponding to each command are given; these action procedures can be used to customize the user interface, particularly the keyboard accelerators and the functionality of the buttons in the optional button box created by the application resource CommandButtonCount.


A folder contains a collection of mail messages, or is empty. xmh supports folders with one level of subfolders.

The selected folder is whichever foldername appears in the bar above the folder buttons. Note that this is not necessarily the same folder that is currently being viewed. To change the selected folder, just press on the desired folder button with pointer button 1; if that folder has subfolders, select a folder from the pull-down menu.

The Table of Contents, or toc, lists the messages in the viewed folder. The title bar above the Table of Contents displays the name of the viewed folder.

The toc title bar also displays the name of the viewed sequence of messages within the viewed folder. Every folder has an implicit ‘‘all’’ sequence, which contains all the messages in the folder, and initially the toc title bar will show ‘‘inbox:all’’.


The Folder command menu contains commands of a global nature:

Open Folder
 Display the data in the selected folder. Thus, the selected folder also becomes the viewed folder. The action procedure corresponding to this command is XmhOpenFolder([foldername]). It takes an optional argument as the name of a folder to select and open; if no folder is specified, the selected folder is opened. It may be specified as part of an event translation from a folder menu button or from a folder menu, or as a binding of a keyboard accelerator to any widget other than the folder menu buttons or the folder menus.
Open Folder in New Window
 Displays the selected folder in an additional main window. Note, however, that you cannot reliably display the same folder in more than one window at a time, although xmh will not prevent you from trying. The corresponding action is XmhOpenFolderInNewWindow().
Create Folder
 Create a new folder. You will be prompted for a name for the new folder; to enter the name, move the pointer to the blank box provided and type. Subfolders are created by specifying the parent folder, a slash, and the subfolder name. For example, to create a folder named ‘‘xmh’’ which is a subfolder of an existing folder named ‘‘clients’’, type ‘‘clients/xmh’’. Click on the Okay button when finished, or just type Return; click on Cancel to cancel this operation. The action corresponding to Create Folder is XmhCreateFolder().
Delete Folder
 Destroy the selected folder. You will be asked to confirm this action (see CONFIRMATION WINDOWS). Destroying a folder will also destroy any subfolders of that folder. The corresponding action is XmhDeleteFolder().
Close Window
 Exits xmh, after first confirming that you won’t lose any changes; or, if selected from any additional xmh window, simply closes that window. The corresponding action is XmhClose().



It is possible to highlight a set of adjacent messages in the area of the Table of Contents. To highlight a message, click on it with pointer button 1. To highlight a range of messages, click on the first one with pointer button 1 and on the last one with pointer button 3; or press pointer button 1, drag, and release. To extend a range of selected messages, use pointer button 3. To highlight all messages in the table of contents, click rapidly three times with pointer button 1. To cancel any selection in the table of contents, click rapidly twice.

The selected messages are the same as the highlighted messages, if any. If no messages are highlighted, then the selected messages are considered the same as the current message.

The current message is indicated by a ‘+’ next to the message number. It usually corresponds to the message currently being viewed. Upon opening a new folder, for example, the current message will be different from the viewed message. When a message is viewed, the title bar above the view will identify the message.


The Table of Contents command menu contains commands which operate on the open, or viewed, folder.

Incorporate New Mail
 Add any new mail received to viewed folder, and set the current message to be the first new message. This command is selectable in the menu and will execute only if the viewed folder is allowed to receive new mail. By default, only ‘‘inbox’’ is allowed to incorporate new mail. The corresponding action is XmhIncorporateNewMail().
Commit Changes Execute all deletions, moves, and copies that have been marked in this folder. The corresponding action is XmhCommitChanges().
Pack Folder Renumber the messages in this folder so they start with 1 and increment by 1. The corresponding action is XmhPackFolder().
Sort Folder Sort the messages in this folder in chronological order. (As a side effect, this may also pack the folder.) The corresponding action is XmhSortFolder().
Rescan Folder Rebuild the list of messages. This can be used whenever you suspect that xmh’s idea of what messages you have is wrong. (In particular, this is necessary if you change things using straight MH commands without using xmh.) The corresponding action is XmhForceRescan().


The Message command menu contains commands which operate on the selected message(s), or if there are no selected messages, the current message.

Compose Message Composes a new message. A new window will be brought up for composition; a description of it is given in the COMPOSITION WINDOWS section below. This command does not affect the current message. The corresponding action is XmhComposeMessage().
View Next Message View the first selected message. If no messages are highlighted, view the current message. If current message is already being viewed, view the first unmarked message after the current message. The corresponding action is XmhViewNextMessage().
View Previous View the last selected message. If no messages are highlighted, view the current message. If current message is already being viewed, view the first unmarked message before the current message. The corresponding action is XmhViewPrevious().
Delete Mark the selected messages for deletion. If no messages are highlighted, mark the current message for deletion and automatically display the next unmarked message. The corresponding action is XmhMarkDelete().
Move Mark the selected messages to be moved into the currently selected folder. (If the selected folder is the same as the viewed folder, this command will just beep.) If no messages are highlighted, mark the current message to be moved and display the next unmarked message. The corresponding action is XmhMarkMove().
Copy as Link Mark the selected messages to be copied into the selected folder. (If the selected folder is the same as the viewed folder, this command will just beep.) If no messages are highlighted, mark the current message to be copied. Note that messages are actually linked, not copied; editing a message copied by xmh will affect all copies of the message. The corresponding action is XmhMarkCopy().
Unmark Remove any of the above three marks from the selected messages, or the current message, if none are highlighted. The corresponding action is XmhUnmark().
View in New Create a new window containing only a view of the first selected message, or the current message, if none are highlighted. The corresponding action is XmhViewInNewWindow().
Reply Create a composition window in reply to the first selected message, or the current message, if none are highlighted. The corresponding action is XmhReply().
Forward Create a composition window whose body is initialized to contain an encapsulation of of the selected messages, or the current message if none are highlighted. The corresponding action is XmhForward().
Use as Composition Create a composition window whose body is initialized to be the contents of the first selected message, or the current message if none are selected. Any changes you make in the composition will be saved in a new message in the ‘‘drafts’’ folder, and will not change the original message. However, there is an exception to this rule. If the message to be used as composition was selected from the ‘‘drafts’’ folder, (see BUGS), the changes will be reflected in the original message (see COMPOSITION WINDOWS). The action procedure corresponding to this command is XmhUseAsComposition().
Print Print the selected messages, or the current message if none are selected. xmh normally prints by invoking the enscript(1) command, but this can be customized with the xmh application-specific resource PrintCommand. The corresponding action is XmhPrint().


The Sequence command menu contains commands pertaining to message sequences (See MESSAGE-SEQUENCES), and a list of the message-sequences defined for the currently viewed folder. The selected message-sequence is indicated by a check mark in its entry in the margin of the menu. To change the selected message-sequence, select a new message-sequence from the sequence menu.

Pick Messages Define a new message-sequence. The corresponding action is XmhPickMessages().
The following menu entries will be sensitive only if the current folder has any message-sequences other than the ‘‘all’’ message-sequence.
Open Sequence Change the viewed sequence to be the same as the selected sequence. The corresponding action is XmhOpenSequence().
Add to Sequence Add the selected messages to the selected sequence. The corresponding action is XmhAddToSequence().
Remove from Sequence
 Remove the selected messages from the selected sequence. The corresponding action is XmhRemoveFromSequence().
Delete Sequence Remove the selected sequence entirely. The messages themselves are not affected; they simply are no longer grouped together to define a message-sequence. The corresponding action is XmhDeleteSequence().


Commands in the View menu and in the buttonboxes of view windows (which result from the Message menu command View In New) correspond in functionality to commands of the same name in the Message menu, but they operate on the viewed message rather than the selected messages or current message.

Close Window When the viewed message is in a separate view window, this command will close the view, after confirming the status of any unsaved edits. The corresponding action procedure is XmhCloseView().
Reply Create a composition window in reply to the viewed message. The related action procedure is XmhViewReply().
Forward Create a composition window whose body is initialized contain an encapsulation of the viewed message. The corresponding action is XmhViewForward().
Use As Composition Create a composition window whose body is initialized to be the contents of the viewed message. Any changes made in the composition window will be saved in a new message in the ‘‘drafts’’ folder, and will not change the original message. An exception: if the viewed message was selected from the ‘‘drafts’’ folder, (see BUGS) the original message is edited. The action procedure corresponding to this command is XmhViewUseAsComposition().
Edit Message This command enables the direct editing of the viewed message. The action procedure is XmhEditView().
Save Message This command is insensitive until the message has been edited; when activated, edits will be saved to the original message in the view. The corresponding action is XmhSaveView().
Print Print the viewed message. xmh prints by invoking the enscript(1) command, but this can be customized with the application-specific resource PrintCommand. The corresponding action procedure is XmhPrintView().
Delete Marks the viewed message for deletion. The corresponding action procedure is XmhViewMarkDelete().


The Options menu contains one entry.

Read in Reverse When selected, a check mark appears in the margin of this menu entry. Read in Reverse will switch the meaning of the next and previous messages, and will increment to the current message marker in the opposite direction. This is useful if you want to read your messages in the order of most recent first. The option acts as a toggle; select it from the menu a second time to undo the effect. The check mark appears when the option is selected.


Composition windows are created by selecting Compose Message from the Message command menu, or by selecting Reply or Forward or Use as Composition from the Message or View command menu. These are used to compose mail messages. Aside from the normal text editing functions, there are six command buttons associated with composition windows:
Close Window Close this composition window. If changes have been made since the most recent Save or Send, you will be asked to confirm losing them. The corresponding action is XmhCloseView().
Send Send this composition. The corresponding action is XmhSend().
New Headers Replace the current composition with an empty message. If changes have been made since the most recent Send or Save, you will be asked to confirm losing them. The corresponding action is XmhResetCompose().
Compose Message Bring up another new composition window. The corresponding action is XmhComposeMessage().
Save Message Save this composition in your drafts folder. Then you can safely close the composition. At some future date, you can continue working on the composition by opening the drafts folder, selecting the message, and using the ‘‘Use as Composition’’ command. The corresponding action is XmhSave().
Insert Insert a related message into the composition. If the composition window was created with a ‘‘Reply’’ command, the related message is the message being replied to, otherwise no related message is defined and this button is insensitive. The message may be filtered before being inserted; see ReplyInsertFilter under APPLICATION RESOURCES for more information. The corresponding action is XmhInsert().


Accelerators are shortcuts. They allow you to invoke commands without using the menus, either from the keyboard or by using the pointer.

xmh defines pointer accelerators for common actions: To select and view a message with a single click, use pointer button 2 on the message’s entry in the table of contents. To select and open a folder or a sequence in a single action, make the folder or sequence selection with pointer button 2.

To mark the highlighted messages, or current message if none have been highlighted, to be moved to a folder in a single action, use pointer button 3 to select the target folder and simultaneously mark the messages. Similarly, selecting a sequence with pointer button 3 will add the highlighted or current message(s) to that sequence. In both of these operations, the selected folder or sequence and the viewed folder or sequence are not changed.

xmh defines the following keyboard accelerators over the surface of the main window, except in the view area while editing a message:         Meta-I          Incorporate New Mail         Meta-C          Commit Changes         Meta-R          Rescan Folder         Meta-P          Pack Folder         Meta-S          Sort Folder

        Meta-space      View Next Message         Meta-c          Mark Copy         Meta-d          Mark Deleted         Meta-f          Forward the selected or current message         Meta-m          Mark Move         Meta-n          View Next Message         Meta-p          View Previous Message         Meta-r          Reply to the selected or current message         Meta-u          Unmark

        Ctrl-V          Scroll the table of contents forward         Meta-V          Scroll the table of contents backward         Ctrl-v          Scroll the view forward         Meta-v          Scroll the view backward


All of the text editing commands are actually defined by the Text widget in the Athena Widget Set. The commands may be bound to different keys than the defaults described below through the X Toolkit Intrinsics key re-binding mechanisms. See the X Toolkit Intrinsics and the Athena Widget Set documentation for more details.

Whenever you are asked to enter any text, you will be using a standard text editing interface. Various control and meta keystroke combinations are bound to a somewhat Emacs-like set of commands. In addition, the pointer buttons may be used to select a portion of text or to move the insertion point in the text. Pressing pointer button 1 causes the insertion point to move to the pointer. Double-clicking button 1 selects a word, triple-clicking selects a line, quadruple-clicking selects a paragraph, and clicking rapidly five times selects everything. Any selection may be extended in either direction by using pointer button 3.

In the following, a line refers to one displayed row of characters in the window. A paragraph refers to the text between carriage returns. Text within a paragraph is broken into lines for display based on the current width of the window. When a message is sent, text is broken into lines based upon the values of the SendBreakWidth and SendWidth application-specific resources.

The following keystroke combinations are defined:

Ctrl-a    Beginning Of Line   Meta-b         Backward Word Ctrl-b    Backward Character  Meta-f         Forward Word Ctrl-d    Delete Next Character              Meta-iInsert File Ctrl-e    End Of Line         Meta-k         Kill To End Of Paragraph Ctrl-f    Forward Character   Meta-q         Form Paragraph Ctrl-g    Multiply Reset      Meta-v         Previous Page Ctrl-h    Delete Previous Character          Meta-yInsert Current Selection Ctrl-j    Newline And Indent  Meta-z         Scroll One Line Down Ctrl-k    Kill To End Of Line Meta-d         Delete Next Word Ctrl-l    Redraw Display      Meta-D         Kill Word Ctrl-m    Newline             Meta-h         Delete Previous Word Ctrl-n    Next Line           Meta-H         Backward Kill Word Ctrl-o    Newline And Backup  Meta-<         Beginning Of File Ctrl-p    Previous Line       Meta->         End Of File Ctrl-r    Search/Replace Backward            Meta-]Forward Paragraph Ctrl-s    Search/Replace Forward             Meta-[Backward Paragraph Ctrl-t    Transpose Characters Ctrl-u    Multiply by 4       Meta-Delete    Delete Previous Word Ctrl-v    Next Page           Meta-Shift DeleteKill Previous Word Ctrl-w    Kill Selection      Meta-Backspace Delete Previous Word Ctrl-y    Unkill              Meta-Shift BackspaceKill Previous Word Ctrl-z    Scroll One Line Up

In addition, the pointer may be used to copy and paste text:      Button 1 Down  Start Selection      Button 1 MotionAdjust Selection      Button 1 Up    End Selection (copy)

     Button 2 Down  Insert Current Selection (paste)

     Button 3 Down  Extend Current Selection      Button 3 MotionAdjust Selection      Button 3 Up    End Selection (copy)


Whenever you press a button that may cause you to lose some work or is otherwise dangerous, a popup dialog box will appear asking you to confirm the action. This window will contain an ‘‘Abort’’ or ‘‘No’’ button and a ‘‘Confirm’’ or ‘‘Yes’’ button. Pressing the ‘‘No’’ button cancels the operation, and pressing the ‘‘Yes’’ will proceed with the operation.

When xmh is run under a Release 6 session manager it will prompt the user for confirmation during a checkpoint operation. The dialog box asks whether any current changes should be committed (saved) during the checkpoint. Responding ‘‘Yes’’ will have the same effect as pressing the ‘‘Commit Changes’’ or ‘‘Save Message’’ buttons in the respective folder and view windows. Responding ‘‘No’’ will cause the checkpoint to continue successfully to completion without actually saving any pending changes. If the session manager disallows user interaction during the checkpoint a ‘‘Yes’’ response is assumed; i.e. all changes will be committed during the checkpoint.

Some dialog boxes contain messages from MH. Occasionally when the message is more than one line long, not all of the text will be visible. Clicking on the message field will cause the dialog box to resize so that you can read the entire message.


An MH message sequence is just a set of messages associated with some name. They are local to a particular folder; two different folders can have sequences with the same name. The sequence named ‘‘all’’ is predefined in every folder; it consists of the set of all messages in that folder. As many as nine sequences may be defined for each folder, including the predefined ‘‘all’’ sequence. (The sequence ‘‘cur’’ is also usually defined for every folder; it consists of only the current message. xmh hides ‘‘cur’’ from the user, instead placing a ‘‘+’’ by the current message. Also, xmh does not support MH’s‘‘unseen’’ sequence, so that one is also hidden from the user.)

The message sequences for a folder (including one for ‘‘all’’) are displayed in the ‘‘Sequence’’ menu, below the sequence commands. The table of contents (also known as the ‘‘toc’’) is at any one time displaying one message sequence. This is called the ‘‘viewed sequence’’, and its name will be displayed in the toc title bar after the folder name. Also, at any time one of the sequences in the menu will have a check mark next to it. This is called the ‘‘selected sequence’’. Note that the viewed sequence and the selected sequence are not necessarily the same. (This all pretty much corresponds to the way folders work.)

The Open Sequence, Add to Sequence, Remove from Sequence, and Delete Sequence commands are active only if the viewed folder contains message-sequences other than ‘‘all’’ sequence.

Note that none of the above actually affect whether a message is in the folder. Remember that a sequence is a set of messages within the folder; the above operations just affect what messages are in that set.

To create a new sequence, select the ‘‘Pick’’ menu entry. A new window will appear, with lots of places to enter text. Basically, you can describe the sequence’s initial set of messages based on characteristics of the message. Thus, you can define a sequence to be all the messages that were from a particular person, or with a particular subject, and so on. You can also connect things up with boolean operators, so you can select all things from ‘‘weissman’’ with a subject containing ‘‘xmh’’.

The layout should be fairly obvious. The simplest cases are the easiest: just point to the proper field and type. If you enter in more than one field, it will only select messages which match all non-empty fields.

The more complicated cases arise when you want things that match one field or another one, but not necessarily both. That’s what all the ‘‘or’’ buttons are for. If you want all things with subjects that include ‘‘xmh’’ or ‘‘xterm’’, just press the ‘‘or’’ button next to the ‘‘Subject:’’ field. Another box will appear where you can enter another subject.

If you want all things either from ‘‘weissman’’ or with subject ‘‘xmh’’, but not necessarily both, select the ‘‘-Or-’’ button. This will essentially double the size of the form. You can then enter ‘‘weissman’’ in a from: box on the top half, and ‘‘xmh’’ in a subject: box on the lower part.

If you select the ‘‘Skip’’ button, then only those messages that don’t match the fields on that row are included.

Finally, in the bottom part of the window will appear several more boxes. One is the name of the sequence you’re defining. (It defaults to the name of the selected sequence when ‘‘Pick’’ was pressed, or to ‘‘temp’’ if ‘‘all’’ was the selected sequence.) Another box defines which sequence to look through for potential members of this sequence; it defaults to the viewed sequence when ‘‘Pick’’ was pressed.

Two more boxes define a date range; only messages within that date range will be considered. These dates must be entered in RFC 822-style format: each date is of the form ‘‘dd mmm yy hh:mm:ss zzz’’, where dd is a one or two digit day of the month, mmm is the three-letter abbreviation for a month, and yy is a year. The remaining fields are optional: hh, mm, and ss specify a time of day, and zzz selects a time zone. Note that if the time is left out, it defaults to midnight; thus if you select a range of ‘‘7 nov 86’’ - ‘‘8 nov 86’’, you will only get messages from the 7th, as all messages on the 8th will have arrived after midnight.

‘‘Date field’’ specifies which field in the header to look at for this date range; it defaults to ‘‘Date’’. If the sequence you’re defining already exists, you can optionally merge the old set with the new; that’s what the ‘‘Yes’’ and ‘‘No’’ buttons are all about. Finally, you can ‘‘OK’’ the whole thing, or ‘‘Cancel’’ it.

In general, most people will rarely use these features. However, it’s nice to occasionally use ‘‘Pick’’ to find some messages, look through them, and then hit ‘‘Delete Sequence’’ to put things back in their original state.


In order to specify resources, it is useful to know the hierarchy of widgets which compose xmh. In the notation below, indentation indicates hierarchical structure. The widget class name is given first, followed by the widget instance name. The application class name is Xmh.

The hierarchy of the main toc and view window is identical for additional toc and view windows, except that a TopLevelShell widget is inserted in the hierarchy between the application shell and the Paned widget.

Xmh xmh      Paned xmh           SimpleMenu folderMenu                SmeBSB open                SmeBSB openInNew                SmeBSB create                SmeBSB delete                SmeLine line                SmeBSB close           SimpleMenu tocMenu                SmeBSB inc                SmeBSB commit                SmeBSB pack                SmeBSB sort                SmeBSB rescan           SimpleMenu messageMenu                SmeBSB compose                SmeBSB next                SmeBSB prev                SmeBSB delete                SmeBSB move                SmeBSB copy                SmeBSB unmark                SmeBSB viewNew                SmeBSB reply                SmeBSB forward                SmeBSB useAsComp                SmeBSB print           SimpleMenu sequenceMenu                SmeBSB pick                SmeBSB openSeq                SmeBSB addToSeq                SmeBSB removeFromSeq                SmeBSB deleteSeq                SmeLine line                SmeBSB all           SimpleMenu viewMenu                SmeBSB reply                SmeBSB forward                SmeBSB useAsComp                SmeBSB edit                SmeBSB save                SmeBSB print           SimpleMenu optionMenu                SmeBSB reverse           Viewport.Core menuBox.clip                Box menuBox                     MenuButton folderButton                     MenuButton tocButton                     MenuButton messageButton                     MenuButton sequenceButton                     MenuButton viewButton                     MenuButton optionButton           Grip grip           Label folderTitlebar           Grip grip           Viewport.Core folders.clip                Box folders                     MenuButton inbox                     MenuButton drafts                          SimpleMenu menu                               SmeBSB <folder_name>                                    .                                    .                                    .

          Grip grip           Label tocTitlebar           Grip grip           Text toc                Scrollbar vScrollbar           Grip grip           Label viewTitlebar           Grip grip           Text view                Scrollbar vScrollbar                Scrollbar hScrollbar

The hierarchy of the Create Folder popup dialog box:

     TransientShell prompt           Dialog dialog                Label label                Text value                Command okay                Command cancel

The hierarchy of the Notice dialog box, which reports messages from MH:

     TransientShell notice           Dialog dialog                Label label                Text value                Command confirm

The hierarchy of the Confirmation dialog box:

     TransientShell confirm           Dialog dialog                Label label                Command yes                Command no

The hierarchy of the dialog box which reports errors:

     TransientShell error           Dialog dialog                Label label                Command OK

The hierarchy of the composition window:

     TopLevelShell xmh           Paned xmh                Label composeTitlebar                Text comp                Viewport.Core compButtons.clip                     Box compButtons                          Command close                          Command send                          Command reset                          Command compose                          Command save                          Command insert

The hierarchy of the view window:

     TopLevelShell xmh           Paned xmh                Label viewTitlebar                Text view                Viewport.Core viewButtons.clip                     Box viewButtons                          Command close                          Command reply                          Command forward                          Command useAsComp                          Command edit                          Command save                          Command print                          Command delete

The hierarchy of the pick window: (Unnamed widgets have no name.)

     TopLevelShell xmh           Paned xmh                Label pickTitlebar                Viewport.Core pick.clip                     Form form                          Form groupform The first 6 rows of the pick window have identical structure:                               Form rowform                                    Toggle                                    Toggle                                    Label                                    Text                                    Command

                              Form rowform                                    Toggle                                    Toggle                                    Text                                    Text                                    Command                               Form rowform                                    Command                Viewport.core pick.clip                     Form form                          From groupform                               Form rowform                                    Label                                    Text                                    Label                                    Text                               Form rowform                                    Label                                    Text                                    Label                                    Text                                    Label                                    Text                               Form rowform                                    Label                                    Toggle                                    Toggle                               Form rowform                                    Command                                    Command                               


The application class name is Xmh. Application-specific resources are listed below by name. Application-specific resource class names always begin with an upper case character, but unless noted, are otherwise identical to the instance names given below.

Any of these options may also be specified on the command line by using the X Toolkit Intrinsics resource specification mechanism. Thus, to run xmh showing all message headers, % xmh -xrm ’*HideBoringHeaders:off’

If TocGeometry, ViewGeometry, CompGeometry, or PickGeometry are not specified, then the value of Geometry is used instead. If the resulting height is not specified (e.g., "", "=500", "+0-0"), then the default height of windows is calculated from fonts and line counts. If the width is not specified (e.g., "", "=x300", "-0+0"), then half of the display width is used. If unspecified, the height of a pick window defaults to half the height of the display.

The following resources are defined:
banner A short string that is the default label of the folder, Table of Contents, and view. The default shows the program name, vendor, and release.
 Whether to disallow user input and show a busy cursor while xmh is busy processing a command. If false, the user can ‘mouse ahead’ and type ahead; if true, user input is discarded when processing lengthy mh commands. The default is true.
 The name of the symbol used to represent the position of the pointer, displayed if blockEventsOnBusy is true, when xmh is processing a time-consuming command. The default is "watch".
 The foreground color of the busy cursor. Default is XtDefaultForeground.
 How often to check for new mail, make checkpoints, and rescan the Table of Contents, in minutes. If checkNewMail is true, xmh checks to see if you have new mail each interval. If makeCheckpoints is true, checkpoints are made every fifth interval. Also every fifth interval, the Table of Contents is checked for inconsistencies with the file system, and rescanned if out of date. To prevent all of these checks from occurring, set CheckFrequency to 0. The default is 1. This resource is retained for backward compatibility with user resource files; see also checkpointInterval, mailInterval, and rescanInterval.
 If true, xmh will check at regular intervals to see if new mail has arrived for any of the top level folders and any opened subfolders. A visual indication will be given if new mail is waiting to be incorporated into a top level folder. Default is true. The interval can be adjusted with mailInterval.
checkpointInterval (class Interval)
 Specifies in minutes how often to make checkpoints of volatile state, if makeCheckpoints is true. The default is 5 times the value of checkFrequency.
 Specifies how checkpointed files are to be named. The value of this resource will be used to compose a file name by inserting the message number as a string in place of the required single occurrence of ‘%d’. If the value of the resource is the empty string, or if no ‘%d’ occurs in the string, or if "%d" is the value of the resource, the default will be used instead. The default is "%d.CKP". Checkpointing is done in the folder of origin unless an absolute pathname is given. xmh does not assist the user in recovering checkpoints, nor does it provide for removal of the checkpoint files.
 The number of command buttons to create in a button box in between the toc and the view areas of the main window. xmh will create these buttons with the names button1, button2 and so on, in a box with the name commandBox. The default is 0. xmh users can specify labels and actions for the buttons in a private resource file; see the section ACTIONS AND INTERFACE CUSTOMIZATION.
 Initial geometry for windows containing compositions.
cursor The name of the symbol used to represent the pointer. Default is ‘‘left_ptr’’.
debug Whether or not to print information to stderr as xmh runs. Default is false.
 The folder used for message drafts. Default is ‘‘drafts’’.
geometry Default geometry to use. Default is none.
 If ‘‘on’’, then xmh will attempt to skip uninteresting header lines within messages by scrolling them off the top of the view. Default is ‘‘on’’.
 Which folder to display on startup. May also be set with the command-line option -initial. Default is ‘‘inbox’’.
 The absolute path name of your incoming mail drop file. In some installations, for example those using the Post Office Protocol, no file is appropriate. In this case, initialIncFile should not be specified, or may be specified as the empty string, and inc will be invoked without a -file argument. By default, this resource has no value. This resource is ignored if xmh finds an .xmhcheck file; see the section on multiple mail drops.
mailInterval (class Interval)
 Specifies the interval in minutes at which the mail should be checked, if mailWaitingFlag or checkNewMail is true. The default is the value of checkFrequency.
mailPath The full path prefix for locating your mail folders. May also be set with the command line option, -path. The default is the Path component in the MH profile, or ‘‘$HOME/Mail’’ if none.
 If true, xmh will attempt to set an indication in its icon when new mail is waiting to be retrieved. If mailWaitingFlag is true, then checkNewMail is assumed to be true as well. The -flag command line option is a quick way to turn on this resource.
 If true, xmh will attempt to save checkpoints of volatile edits. The default is false. The frequency of checkpointing is controlled by the resource checkpointInterval. For the location of checkpointing, see checkpointNameFormat.
mhPath What directory in which to find the MH commands. If a command isn’t found in the user’s path, then the path specified here is used. Default is ‘‘/usr/local/mh6’’.
newMailBitmap (class NewMailBitmap)
 The bitmap to show in the folder button when a folder has new mail. The default is ‘‘black6’’.
newMailIconBitmap (class NewMailBitmap)
 The bitmap suggested to the window manager for the icon when any folder has new mail. The default is ‘‘flagup’’.
noMailBitmap (class NoMailBitmap)
 The bitmap to show in the folder button when a folder has no new mail. The default is ‘‘box6’’.
noMailIconBitmap (class NoMailBitmap)
 The bitmap suggested to the window manager for the icon when no folders have new mail. The default is ‘‘flagdown’’.
 Initial geometry for pick windows.
 The foreground color of the pointer. Default is XtDefaultForeground.
 Whether to prefix the window and icon name with "xmh: ". Default is true.
 An sh command to execute to print a message. Note that stdout and stderr must be specifically redirected. If a message or range of messages is selected for printing, the full file paths of each message file are appended to the specified print command. The default is ‘‘enscript >/dev/null 2>/dev/null’’.
 An sh command to be executed when the Insert button is activated in a composition window. The full path and filename of the source message is appended to the command before being passed to sh(1). The default filter is cat; i.e. it inserts the entire message into the composition. Interesting filters are: sed ’s/^/> /’ or awk -e ’{print " " $0}’ or <mh directory>/lib/mhl -form mhl.body.
rescanInterval (class Interval)
 How often to check the Table of Contents of currently viewed folders and of folders with messages currently being viewed, and to update the Table of Contents if xmh sees inconsistencies with the file system in these folders. The default is 5 times the value of checkFrequency.
 When true, the next message will be the message prior to the current message in the table of contents, and the previous message will be the message after the current message in the table of contents. The default is false.
 When a message is sent from xmh, lines longer than this value will be split into multiple lines, each of which is no longer than SendWidth. This value may be overridden for a single message by inserting an additional line in the message header of the form SendBreakWidth: value. This line will be removed from the header before the message is sent. The default is 2000 (to allow for sending mail containing source patches).
 When a message is sent from xmh, lines longer than SendBreakWidth characters will be split into multiple lines, each of which is no longer than this value. This value may be overridden for a single message by inserting an additional line in the message header of the form SendWidth: value. This line will be removed from the header before the message is sent. The default is 72.
 Whether to automatically show the current message after incorporating new mail. Default is true.
 Whether to skip over messages marked for copying when using ‘‘View Next Message’’ and ‘‘View Previous Message’’. Default is true.
 Whether to skip over messages marked for deletion when using ‘‘View Next Message’’ and ‘‘View Previous Message’’. Default is true.
 Whether to skip over messages marked for moving to other folders when using ‘‘View Next Message’’ and ‘‘View Previous Message’’. Default is true.
 If true, when popup command menus are used, the most recently selected entry will be under the cursor when the menu pops up. Default is false. See the file clients/xmh/Xmh.sample for an example of how to specify resources for popup command menus.
tempDir Directory for xmh to store temporary files. For privacy, a user might want to change this to a private directory. Default is ‘‘/tmp’’.
 Initial geometry for main xmh toc and view windows.
 The percentage of the main window that is used to display the Table of Contents. Default is 33.
tocWidth How many characters to generate for each message in a folder’s table of contents. Default is 100. Use less if the geometry of the main xmh window results in the listing being clipped at the right hand boundary, or if you plan to use mhl a lot, because it will be faster, and the extra characters may not be useful.
 Initial geometry for windows showing a view of a message.


Users may need to incorporate mail from multiple spool files or mail drops. If incoming mail is forwarded to the MH slocal program, it can be sorted as specified by the user into multiple incoming mail drops. Refer to the MH man page for slocal to learn how to specify forwarding and the automatic sorting of incoming mail in a .maildelivery file.

To inform xmh about the various mail drops, create a file in your home directory called .xmhcheck. In this file, a mapping between existing folder names and mail drops is created by giving a folder name followed by the absolute pathname of the mail drop site, with some white space separating them, one mapping per line. xmh will read this file whether or not resources are set for notification of new mail arrival, and will allow incorporation of new mail into any folder with a mail drop. xmh will invoke inc with the -file argument, and if xmh has been requested to check for new mail, it will check directly, instead of using msgchk.

An example of .xmhcheck file format, for the folders ‘‘inbox’’ and ‘‘xpert’’: inbox     /usr/spool/mail/converse xpert     /users/converse/maildrops/xpert


Because xmh provides action procedures which correspond to command functionality and installs accelerators, users can customize accelerators and new button functionality in a private resource file. For examples of specifying customized resources, see the file mit/clients/xmh/Xmh.sample. To understand the syntax, see the Appendix of the X Toolkit Intrinsics specification on Translation Table Syntax, and any general explanation of using and specifying X resources. Unpredictable results can occur if actions are bound to events or widgets for which they were not designed.

Here’s an example of how to bind actions to your own xmh buttons, and how to redefine the default accelerators so that the Meta key is not required, in case you don’t have access to the sample file mentioned above.

! To create buttons in the middle of the main window and give them semantics:

Xmh*CommandButtonCount:       5

Xmh*commandBox.button1.label: Inc Xmh*commandBox.button1.translations: #override\      <Btn1Down>,<Btn1Up>: XmhIncorporateNewMail() unset()

Xmh*commandBox.button2.label: Compose Xmh*commandBox.button2.translations: #override\      <Btn1Down>,<Btn1Up>: XmhComposeMessage() unset()

Xmh*commandBox.button3.label: Next Xmh*commandBox.button3.translations: #override\      <Btn1Down>,<Btn1Up>: XmhViewNextMessage() unset()

Xmh*commandBox.button4.label: Delete Xmh*commandBox.button4.translations: #override\      <Btn1Down>,<Btn1Up>: XmhMarkDelete() unset()

Xmh*commandBox.button5.label: Commit Xmh*commandBox.button5.translations: #override\      <Btn1Down>,<Btn1Up>: XmhCommitChanges() unset()

! To redefine the accelerator bindings to exclude modifier keys, ! and add your own keyboard accelerator for Compose Message:

Xmh*tocMenu.accelerators: #override\n\      !:<Key>I: XmhIncorporateNewMail()\n\      !:<Key>C:      XmhCommitChanges()\n\      !:<Key>R: XmhForceRescan()\n\      !:<Key>P: XmhPackFolder()\n\      !:<Key>S: XmhSortFolder()\n Xmh*messageMenu.accelerators: #override\n\      !:<Key>E: XmhComposeMessage()\n\      !<Key>space: XmhViewNextMessage()\n\      !:<Key>c: XmhMarkCopy()\n\      !:<Key>d: XmhMarkDelete()\n\      !:<Key>f: XmhForward()\n\      !:<Key>m: XmhMarkMove()\n\      !:<Key>n: XmhViewNextMessage()\n\      !:<Key>p: XmhViewPreviousMessage()\n\      !:<Key>r: XmhReply()\n\      !:<Key>u: XmhUnmark()\n

xmh provides action procedures which correspond to entries in the command menus; these are given in the sections describing menu commands, not here. In addition to the actions corresponding to commands in the menus, these action routines are defined:
XmhPushFolder([foldername, ...])
 This action pushes each of its argument(s) onto a stack of foldernames. If no arguments are given, the selected folder is pushed onto the stack.
 This action pops one foldername from the stack and sets the selected folder.
 This action should always be taken when the user selects a folder button. A folder button represents a folder and zero or more subfolders. The menu of subfolders is built upon the first reference, by this routine. If there are no subfolders, this routine will mark the folder as having no subfolders, and no menu will be built. In that case the menu button emulates a toggle button. When subfolders exist, the menu will popup, using the menu button action PopupMenu().
 This action allows menu buttons to emulate toggle buttons in the function of selecting a folder. This action is for menu button widgets only, and sets the selected folder.
 This action ensures that the menu button behaves properly when the user moves the pointer out of the menu button window.
XmhPushSequence([sequencename, ...])
 This action pushes each of its arguments onto the stack of sequence names. If no arguments are given, the selected sequence is pushed onto the stack.
 This action pops one sequence name from the stack of sequence names, which then becomes the selected sequence.
 This action is equivalent to pressing the okay button in the Create Folder popup.
 This action rescans the contents of the public MH sequences for the currently opened folder and updates the sequence menu if necessary.
XmhShellCommand( parameter [, parameter])
 At least one parameter must be specified. The parameters will be concatenated with a space character separator, into a single string, and the list of selected messages, or if no messages are selected, the current message, will be appended to the string of parameters. The string will be executed as a shell command. The messages are always given as absolute pathnames. It is an error to cause this action to execute when there are no selected messages and no current message.
 This action will check all mail drops known to xmh. If no mail drops have been specified by the user either through the .xmhcheck file or by the initialIncFile resource, the MH command msgchk is used to check for new mail, otherwise, xmh checks directly.
XmhWMProtocols([wm_delete_window] [wm_save_yourself])
 This action is responsible for participation in window manager communication protocols. It responds to delete window and save yourself messages. The user can cause xmh to respond to one or both of these protocols, exactly as if the window manager had made the request, by invoking the action with the appropriate parameters. The action is insensitive to the case of the string parameters. If the event received is a ClientMessage event and parameters are present, at least one of the parameters must correspond to the protocol requested by the event for the request to be honored by xmh.


The initial text displayed in a composition window is generated by executing the corresponding MH command; i.e. comp, repl, or forw, and therefore message components may be customized as specified for those commands. comp is executed only once per invocation of xmh and the message template is re-used for every successive new composition.

xmh uses MH commands, including inc, msgchk, comp, send, repl, forw, refile, rmm, pick, pack, sort, and scan. Some flags for these commands can be specified in the MH profile; xmh may override them. The application resource debug can be set to true to see how xmh uses MH commands.


HOME - users’s home directory MH - to get the location of the MH profile file


~/.mh_profile - MH profile, used if the MH environment variable is not set
~/Mail - directory of folders, used if the MH profile cannot be found
~/.xmhcheck - optional, for multiple mail drops in cooperation with slocal.
/usr/local/mh6 - MH commands, as a last resort, see mhPath.
~/Mail/<folder>/.xmhcache - scan output in each folder
~/Mail/<folder>/.mh_sequences - sequence definitions, in each folder
/tmp - temporary files, see tempDir.


X(7), xrdb(1), X Toolkit Intrinsics, Athena Widget Set, mh(1), enscript(1) At least one book has been published about MH and xmh.


- When the user closes a window, all windows which are transient for that window should also be closed by xmh. - When XmhUseAsComposition and XmhViewUseAsComposition operate on messages in the DraftsFolder, xmh disallows editing of the composition if the same message is also being viewed in another window. - Occasionally after committing changes, the table of contents will appear to be completely blank when there are actually messages present. When this happens, refreshing the display, or typing Control-L in the table of contents, will often cause the correct listing to appear. If this doesn’t work, force a rescan of the folder. - Should recognize and use the ‘‘unseen’’ message-sequence. - Should determine by itself if the user hasn’t used MH before, and offer to create the .mh_profile, instead of hanging on inc. - A few commands are missing (rename folder, resend message). - WM_DELETE_WINDOW protocol doesn’t work right when requesting deletion of the first toc and view, while trying to keep other xmh windows around. - Doesn’t support annotations when replying to messages. - Doesn’t allow folders to be shared without write permission. - Doesn’t recognize private sequences. - MH will report that the .mh_sequences file is poorly formatted if any sequence definition in a particular folder contains more than BUFSIZ characters. xmh tries to capture these messages and display them when they occur, but it cannot correct the problem. - Should save a temporary checkpoint file rather than requiring changes to be committed in the non-shutdown case.


Terry Weissman, formerly of Digital Western Research Laboratory Donna Converse, MIT X Consortium

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