I am trying to set up mutt to use maildir format. I have the following in my .muttrc file:

set mbox_type=Maildir
set folder="~/.mail/"
set mbox="~/.mail/"
set spoolfile="~/.mail/"
set record="~/.mail/sent"
set postponed="~/.mail/drafts"

In my ~/.mail/ folder, I have the subfolders cur new sent tmp. So far so good. But instead of storing the sent mails in ~/.mail/sent/ mutt creates again the subfolder structures ~/.mail/sent/{cur,new,tmp}. And stores all sent mails in ~/.mail/sent/cur/. I find this confusing. is there any reason why this is so?

1 Answer 1


This is because you have set

set mbox_type=Maildir

which configures the default mail-box type for newly created mailboxes to maildir.

And the maildir standard says that a maildir X must have sub-folders {cur,new,tmp}. A folder sent is not described by the maildir standard.

Thus, when you specify as destination ~/.mail/sent mutt interprets it as maildir base path and creates the usual sub-directories {cur,new,tmp} there, if they are not already present.

  • thanks for the clarification. Does it mean that if I want to store sent mail in maildir format (every message in separate file), I must have the directory structure sent/{cur,new,tmp} even if I don't need it ? Nov 16, 2013 at 21:25
  • 1
    @MartinVegter: You do need it, because it is part of the format. It is not something arbitrary that mutt does. You could try mh as a somewhat simpler format. (By the way, the usual convention for Maildir+ subfolders is ~/Mail/.foo.bar.baz – the "filesystem" layout, ~/Mail/foo/bar/baz, is less common.)
    – user1686
    Nov 17, 2013 at 0:22

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