XMH(1) MachTen Programmer’s Manual XMH(1)

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 inter-

This document introduces many aspects of the Athena Widget

-path directory
This option specifies an alternate collection of
mail folders in which to process mail. The direc-
tory is specified as an absolute pathname. The
default mail path is the value of the Path compo-
nent 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 appear-
ance 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 MailWait-
ingFlag, which can be specified in a resource file.

The standard toolkit command line options are given in

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 incor-
porate 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 applica-
tion 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 mes-
sages in ‘‘inbox’’.

- A view of one of your messages. Initially this is

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

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

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 bor-
der 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 compen-
sate 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 compen-
sate 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 mes-
sage, 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 nec-
essarily 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

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 XmhOpen-

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

Delete Folder
Destroy the selected folder. You will be asked to
confirm this action (see CONFIRMATION WINDOWS).
Destroying a folder will also destroy any subfold-
ers of that folder. The corresponding action is

Close Window
Exits xmh, after first confirming that you won’t
lose any changes; or, if selected from any addi-
tional 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 mes-
sage, 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 mes-
sages, if any. If no messages are highlighted, then the
selected messages are considered the same as the current

The current message is indicated by a ‘+’ next to the mes-
sage number. It usually corresponds to the message cur-
rently being viewed. Upon opening a new folder, for exam-
ple, 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 exe-
cute 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 XmhCom-

Pack Folder Renumber the messages in this folder so
they start with 1 and increment by 1.
The corresponding action is XmhPack-

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 COMPO-
SITION WINDOWS section below. This com-
mand does not affect the current mes-
sage. The corresponding action is Xmh-

View Next Message View the first selected message. If no
messages are highlighted, view the cur-
rent message. If current message is
already being viewed, view the first
unmarked message after the current mes-
sage. The corresponding action is

View Previous View the last selected message. If no
messages are highlighted, view the cur-
rent message. If current message is
already being viewed, view the first
unmarked message before the current mes-
sage. The corresponding action is

Delete Mark the selected messages for deletion.
If no messages are highlighted, mark the
current message for deletion and auto-
matically display the next unmarked mes-
sage. The corresponding action is Xmh-

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 mes-
sage. The corresponding action is Xmh-

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 high-
lighted. The corresponding action is

Reply Create a composition window in reply to
the first selected message, or the cur-
rent message, if none are highlighted.
The corresponding action is XmhReply().

Forward Create a composition window whose body
is initialized to contain an encapsula-
tion of of the selected messages, or the
current message if none are highlighted.
The corresponding action is XmhFor-

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 mes-
sage 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 proce-
dure corresponding to this command is

Print Print the selected messages, or the cur-
rent 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 mes-
sage-sequence from the sequence menu.

Pick Messages Define a new message-sequence. The cor-
responding 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 cor-
responding 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

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 cur-
rent 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 correspond-
ing 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 mes-
sage. An exception: if the viewed mes-
sage was selected from the ‘‘drafts’’
folder, (see BUGS) the original message
is edited. The action procedure corre-
sponding to this command is XmhViewUse-

Edit Message This command enables the direct editing
of the viewed message. The action pro-
cedure is XmhEditView().

Save Message This command is insensitive until the
message has been edited; when activated,
edits will be saved to the original mes-
sage 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 applica-
tion-specific resource PrintCommand.
The corresponding action procedure is

Delete Marks the viewed message for deletion.
The corresponding action procedure is

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 Mes-
sage 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 correspond-
ing action is XmhCloseView().

Send Send this composition. The correspond-
ing 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

Compose Message Bring up another new composition window.
The corresponding action is XmhCom-

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 Com-
position’’ command. The corresponding
action is XmhSave().

Insert Insert a related message into the compo-
sition. 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 insensi-
tive. The message may be filtered
before being inserted; see ReplyInsert-
more information. The corresponding
action is XmhInsert().

Accelerators are shortcuts. They allow you to invoke com-
mands 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 but-
tons 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. Dou-
ble-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 bro-
ken 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 ‘‘Con-
firm’’ or ‘‘Yes’’ button. Pressing the ‘‘No’’ button can-
cels 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 oper-
ation. 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 com-
pletion 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 associ-
ated 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 fold-
ers 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’’

Note that none of the above actually affect whether a mes-
sage 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 ‘‘Sub-
ject:’’ 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 mes-
sages that don’t match the fields on that row are

Finally, in the bottom part of the window will appear sev-
eral 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 option-
ally 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

Form rowform
Form rowform
Viewport.core pick.clip
Form form
From groupform
Form rowform
Form rowform
Form rowform
Form rowform

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 char-
acter, 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 specifica-
tion mechanism. Thus, to run xmh showing all message
% xmh -xrm ’*HideBoringHeaders:off’

If TocGeometry, ViewGeometry, CompGeometry, or PickGeome-
try 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
is "xmh X Consortium R6".

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 posi-
tion of the pointer, displayed if blockEventsOn-
Busy 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 inter-
val. Also every fifth interval, the Table of Con-
tents is checked for inconsistencies with the file
system, and rescanned if out of date. To prevent
all of these checks from occurring, set CheckFre-
quency to 0. The default is 1. This resource is
retained for backward compatibility with user
resource files; see also checkpointInterval, mail-
Interval, 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 mail-

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 checkFre-

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 occurance
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 check-
points, nor does it provide for removal of the
checkpoint files.

The number of command buttons to create in a but-
ton 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 sec-

Initial geometry for windows containing composi-

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

Default geometry to use. Default is none.

If ‘‘on’’, then xmh will attempt to skip uninter-
esting 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 appro-
priate. 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

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

If true, xmh will attempt to save checkpoints of
volatile edits. The default is false. The fre-
quency 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

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

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

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 redi-
rected. 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

An sh command to be executed when the Insert but-
ton 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. Inter-
esting 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 cur-
rently 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 con-
tents, and the previous message will be the mes-
sage 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 insert-
ing 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 mul-
tiple 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 Previ-
ous Message’’. Default is true.

Whether to skip over messages marked for deletion
when using ‘‘View Next Message’’ and ‘‘View Previ-
ous 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

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 win-

The percentage of the main window that is used to
display the Table of Contents. Default is 33.

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 charac-
ters may not be useful.

Initial geometry for windows showing a view of a

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 fowarding and
the automatic sorting of incoming mail in a .maildelivery

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

xmh provides action procedures which correspond to entries
in the command menus; these are given in the sections
describing menu commmands, 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

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 repre-
sents a folder and zero or more subfolders. The
menu of subfolders is built upon the first ref-
erence, by this routine. If there are no sub-
folders, 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 tog-
gle 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 messsages, or if no mes-
sages 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 cur-
rent 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 mes-
sages. 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 gen-
erated 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 pro-
file; 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 can-
not be found
~/.xmhcheck - optional, for multiple mail drops in cooper-
ation with slocal.
/usr/local/mh6 - MH commands, as a last resort, see
~/Mail/<folder>/.xmhcache - scan output in each folder
~/Mail/<folder>/.mh_sequences - sequence definitions, in
each folder
/tmp - temporary files, see tempDir.

X(1), 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 con-
tents 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-
- 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 mes-
- WM_DELETE_WINDOW protocol doesn’t work right when
requesting deletion of the first toc and view, while try-
ing to keep other xmh windows around.
- Doesn’t support annotations when replying to messages.
- Doesn’t allow folders to be shared without write permis-
- 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

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

X Version 11 Release 6 26