When there is new mail in the current directory, mutt will notify the user by displaying "New mail in this mailbox".

How do I make this notification brightyellow and blinking?

  • you tagged both Linux and BSD; does the solution need to cover both, or is this mutt-specific?
    – Jeff Schaller
    Oct 18, 2016 at 17:59
  • sorry, this is a mutt-specific question
    – matzus
    Oct 18, 2016 at 18:10

1 Answer 1


short: you can't


mutt writes this message with a common function that is shared with many other messages (147 according to a grep on mutt 1.7.1). Inside the function (curses_message, in curs_lib.c), it has colors for the ordinary messages and for error messages. These are message and error categories, respectively.

Without modifying mutt's source-code and recompiling, you would not be able to make this notification appear distinct from other messages.

You can modify the colors for a category, as done in Can mutt set the color of some messages in the inbox? for the index category. But all of the messages in that category would have the same colors.

Also, you cannot have blink. Mutt does not look for that attribute. For reference, here is the code that it uses to get curses attributes:

  if (ascii_strcasecmp ("bold", buf->data) == 0)
    *attr |= A_BOLD;
  else if (ascii_strcasecmp ("underline", buf->data) == 0)
    *attr |= A_UNDERLINE;
  else if (ascii_strcasecmp ("none", buf->data) == 0)
    *attr = A_NORMAL;
  else if (ascii_strcasecmp ("reverse", buf->data) == 0)
    *attr |= A_REVERSE;
  else if (ascii_strcasecmp ("standout", buf->data) == 0)
    *attr |= A_STANDOUT;
  else if (ascii_strcasecmp ("normal", buf->data) == 0)
    *attr = A_NORMAL; /* needs use = instead of |= to clear other bits */
    snprintf (err->data, err->dsize, _("%s: no such attribute"), buf->data);
    return (-1);

So blink would be reported as

blink: no such attribute
  • Side question: how can I disable this notification? It's causing problems for me. Sep 2, 2020 at 20:03

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