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When entering personal preferences like retain me@example.com inside command line mail, how can I have these saved so they are reloaded the next time I start mail?

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There is no direct way to save the current settings. Instead, you have to write the desired settings to the user startup file, ~/.mailrc.

This is referenced in the manual page for mailx (see man mailx), which says,

At startup time, mail will execute commands in the system command file, /etc/mail.rc, unless explicitly told not to by using the -n option. Next, the commands in the user's personal command file ~/.mailrc are executed. mail then examines its command line options [...]

Here is an example, taken straight from /etc/mail.rc on my (Debian) system. As you can see the syntax is identical to that used on the command line:

set ask askcc append dot save crt
ignore Received Message-Id Resent-Message-Id Status Mail-From Return-Path Via Delivered-To
  • I assume then that the syntax used in .mailrc is identical to the one entered directly on the command line. – forthrin May 18 '18 at 13:03
  • @forthrin yes. I've amended my answer to address this explicitly – roaima May 18 '18 at 13:06

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