To quote from finger's man page

Mail status is shown as No Mail.'' if there is no mail at all, Mail last read DDD MMM ## HH:MM YYYY (TZ)'' if the person has looked at their mailbox since new mail arriving, or New mail received ...'', Unread since ...'' if they have new mail.

I'd rather it didn't do that. In fact I'd like finger to only display no mail when asked.

Is there a way to ensure this behaviour? I have no admin rights to the machine or the network (and Google points me to nail-biting remedies for some reason). Emptying the mail folder is one solution but I'm looking for something more elegant, if possible.

  • You are brave to run fingerd in this day and age. Why give out the info that fingerd gives out? Seems like a security risk to me.
    – user732
    Oct 4, 2013 at 16:11
  • @BruceEdiger It's enabled by default on my uni systems. I don't mind it usually because it's reminescent of the early days of computing (which I didn't get to live). But yes it is a risk, if I had admin priviledges I'd probably turn it off
    – rath
    Oct 4, 2013 at 17:18

1 Answer 1


Finger daemon implementations vary but I don't know of any that allows users to choose whether to reveal the time when they last checked their email.

If you want to keep this information private, arrange for your email to be delivered to a non-default mailbox. How to do that depends on the email setup. A lot of sites allow the use of procmail to filter incoming mail. The following minimalist ~/.procmailrc causes your mail to be delivered to a file in your home directory:


Depending on your local configuration, you may need to explicitly invoke procmail from your .forward. Beware that using a non-default inbox may cause the occasional friction:

  • If there's a webmail or POP/IMAP service, you'll need to figure out how to make it read your inbox.
  • If your home directory is full or unmounted, email will be delivered to the default mailbox.
  • This won't work if your home directory isn't mounted on the machine that receives mail (a rare, but possible configuration).
  • If you have separate disk space quota for email and home directories, your email will now count against your home quota.

You cannot prevent the “last logged in” date from being revealed.

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