I believe that if there is any output from a cronjob it is mailed to the user who the job belongs to. I think you can also add something like MAILTO=vivek@nixcraft.in at the top of the cron file to change where the output is sent to.

Can I set an option so that cron jobs system-wide will be emailed to root instead of to the user who runs them? (i.e. so that I don't have to set this in each user's cron file)


Check /etc/crontab file and set MAILTO=root in there. Might also need in /etc/rc file

crond seems to accept MAILTO variable, I guess I am not sure completely but its worth a try changing the environment variable for crond before it is started. Like in /etc/sysconfig/crond or /etc/rc.d/init.d/crond script which sources the earlier file.


[centos@centos scripts]$ strings /usr/sbin/crond | grep -i mail
usage:  %s [-n] [-p] [-m <mail command>] [-x [
mailed %d byte%s of output but got status 0x%04x
[%ld] no more grandchildren--mail written?
mailcmd too long
[%ld] closing pipe to mail
  • Thanks very much! +1. Perhaps put the bottom part of your answer in a preformat / code format? – cwd Dec 16 '11 at 15:44

Put MAILTO=root in /etc/default/cron. This file contains cron's default settings.

man 5 crontab says,

If MAILTO is defined (and non-empty), mail is sent to the user so named.

Refer: http://man.cx/cron(1)#heading4

  • where? for each user's crontab file? – Nikhil Mulley Dec 16 '11 at 15:13
  • @Nikhil check my updated answer. – Sachin Divekar Dec 16 '11 at 15:25
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    it works for only the users' whose crontab has it. Will it work, if any of the users' do not have this variable set? I think @Cwd has asked specifically for a global setting that for all users. – Nikhil Mulley Dec 16 '11 at 15:29
  • @SachinDivekar -1 Nikhil is right. Also you edited my question and changed the meaning of it. The edited meaning does align with your answer, but this is not what i was asking. – cwd Dec 16 '11 at 15:43
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    This is not working for me. I have set the MAILTO in the default file and restarted cron service, but it's still sending to root (I'm trying to send to an external email address) – peedee Nov 18 '15 at 4:35

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