Sometimes a message doesn't get sent for whatever reason (e.g. a crash or shutdown). I can't find the message in the Drafts maildir (/new, /tmp, or /cur). Surely mutt must save the message somewhere that doesn't get wiped in case of an unclean shutdown?

  • I would not expect an application to save a draft for me unless I explicitly saved something as a draft.
    – goldilocks
    Commented Jun 26, 2014 at 14:57
  • @goldilocks, at least the body of the email is saved somewhere as that's what it runs your editor on. Commented Jun 26, 2014 at 15:03
  • @StéphaneChazelas That may be the case here, I'm not actually a mutt user (although I think it has a TLI interface of its own, so an external editor may or may not be involved -- seems like information that should be in the question). But in general, I don't see why the buffer content of a text application would be on disk anywhere unless it needs to be (e.g., because of size, but even that is dubious), or you (auto)saved it.
    – goldilocks
    Commented Jun 26, 2014 at 15:09
  • @goldilocks, a lot of programs like vim and emacs save drafts automatically. For something as important as drafting an email, I would hope the default setting is to save it. Commented Jun 26, 2014 at 15:40
  • @ReedG.Law That's why I wrote "or you (auto)saved it". It's usually not a mandatory feature since that would make the application useless in a readonly setting. It's also not the default w/ (e.g.) vim. So if you enable such a feature, then of course there's a backup, you would probably know that, and you would know where it is. Otherwise, there isn't one.
    – goldilocks
    Commented Jun 26, 2014 at 15:46

1 Answer 1


If you were still editing the message, saving a backup copy is up to your editor. If you've actually saved the message but haven't sent it yet, it's stored in $TMPDIR (or /tmp by default), with a mutt- prefix. You can check the filename in your editor while you're writing the message; mutt will keep that same file around until you've finished working with that particular message. The Drafts maildir is for messages you've postponed indefinitely; it copies the temporary file to there until you recall it

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