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Customization and Configuration

9.1 Where does Pine look for configuration information?

In Unix and PC-Pine 3.90 and higher, the PINE RELEASE NOTES (Press "R" when on the [M]AIN MENU) contain a section on Configuration, including default file names and environment variables. Almost all personal configuration can be accomplished through the SETUP CONFIGURATION SCREEN (Press "S Setup" then "C Config" when on the [M]AIN MENU.

Unix Pine uses three configuration files: a system-wide defaults file, a system-wide non-overridable settings file and a personal coniguration file (.pinerc in the user's home directory).
If, for some reason, you need to generate a blank personal configuration file, run
"pine -pinerc pinerc.blank".
If you need to generate a "blank" copy of the system wide configuration files (can usually only be done by systems administrator), run
"pine -conf > /usr/local/lib/pine.conf".

9.1.1 How can I get a fresh copy of my Pine configuration file?

If you run "pine -pinerc new_pinerc_file_name" you will get a fresh copy of your .pinerc configuration information placed into the file new_pinerc_file_name" with the options you are using set. It will also have fresh comments, and then everything in the config screen and the pinerc file should match. Old variables that are no longer being used will disappear. If you ever plan on editing your .pinerc file in the future (and don't want to be confused by obsolete comments), it would be a good idea to run the command: "pine -pinerc .pinerc", or in the case of PC-Pine: "pine -pinerc \pine\pinerc" (assuming your pinerc file is in the \pine directory on your PC.)

9.2 Can I customize Pine on a per folder basis?

A small set of features can be set up to be different for different folders or folder types. You will find the per folder customization options in the Main menu, under [S]etup, [R]ules, [O]ther. Some information on what is settable is contained in the Pine Technical Notes under Other Rule Actions.

Another possibility is to use configuration options which apply to the whole pine session rather than to particular folders. To do that you would have several custom .pinerc files and shell aliases which use them. For example if you want pine to behave a certain way when you are reading newsgroups, you might copy your .pinerc to a new one which you will customize for newsreading:

cp .pinerc .pinerc-news

Then you can start pine using the separate configuration file with the command:

pine -p .pinerc-news

After doing that, you can make all the changes you want to settings to make life easier when reading news, and save the configuration. If it is a problem to enter that pine command every time, add this line to your .cshrc file:

alias pinen 'pine -p .pinerc-news'

to create a "pinen" command. You could add to that and have the configuration file use the "initial-keystroke-list" variable to go to the newsgroups list. E.g.,


You can also do a lot with the pine command line options and a shell alias for that.

For more information on Pine Command Line Options use "pine -h" or view the Pine Technical Notes concerning Pine Command Line Options.

9.3 Can Pine be used with a POP server?

Versions of PC-Pine prior to 4.00 cannot be used with a POP (Post Office Protocol) server. With Unix Pine, and with PC-Pine 4.00 and after, you can access a POP server in "online" mode. That is, Pine will start a POP3 session and keep it open until the mailbox is closed. Due to the nature of the POP3 protocol, Pine will not see any new mail which arrives during the POP3 session. Thus new mail only arrives upon starting a session.

To access the message INBOX on a POP3 server, use the folder definition syntax:


or, especially useful if your POP account user-id is different from the one in your Pine configuration:


where pop3server is the hostname of the POP3 server, and popuserid is your user-id for your POP account. However, this method accesses the POP server in quasi-online mode, not in offline mode, which POP was designed for. Accessing the inbox on a POP3 server with Pine does not preserve changes to message flags (New, Answered, Deleted, etc.) between sessions.

As an alternative, a program such as fetchmail (which supercedes popclient) can be used to download email from a POP server to a local Unix account, where it can then be accessed with Pine. fetchmail can be obtained from:

For a more detailed comparison of the POP and IMAP protocols, and discussion of the various message access modes (online, offline, disconnected), see:

Message Access Paradigms and Protocols
RFC-1733: Distributed Electronic Mail Models in IMAP4

Pine does not support the old POP2 protocol, and there are no plans to do so.

9.4 Why does my message index show From: instead of To:?

If the user has manually changed their From: header, or can receive mail with other addresses, Pine must be aware of these alternate addresses, by having them entered in in the alt-addresses option in SETUP CONFIGURATION.

Applies to Pine for Unix only

See also the FAQ: "9.5 How do I change my 'From:' line?."

The following is concerned with Pine displaying the user's own name, rather than the name of the recipient, in folder index listings of messages they have sent. This occurs when Pine detects the specific hostname of the computer on which it is running in the From: header. To avoid this from happening, set use-only-domain-name in Pine's SETUP CONFIGURATION menu to Yes; this strips the name of the specific host from your From: address. Alternatively, specify your domain name in user-domain (be sure you enter it correctly, otherwise all your outgoing messages will have an invalid return address! Ask your local computing support people if in doubt). When setting either of these options, also read the help screen for quell-user-lookup-in-passwd-file to see whether you should enable that feature too.

Administrators of systems where Pine exhibits this behavior should also check the /etc/hosts file for invalid entries; as an example, it should read:

  123.456.78.90   hostname.domain    hostname

not just

  123.456.78.90   hostname

-- otherwise, users' setting of use-only-domain-name to Yes will not have the intended effect.

9.5 How do I change my 'From:' line?

From Pine's [M]AIN MENU, choose [S]etup, then [C]onfig. Move down to the customized-hdrs option. Press "A Add Value". Use the format:

        From: "My Real Name" <>

Note: You may wish to configure default-composer-hdrs so you can easily change the From: line when composing new messages. The process is the same as adding to the customized-hdrs entry. If you use this setting, remember that you must specify all the headers you want to see; simply changing the value to From: will make From: your only visible header.

Press Return to accept the change, and "E Exit Setup".

Beginning with Pine 4.30, changing of the From: value is allowed by default.

For Pine releases pre-4.30: If you go to COMPOSE MESSAGE and get the error:

              [Not allowed to change header "From"]

then you, if you are installing Pine yourself, or your systems administrator (if users changing their From lines does not violate your site's policy) will have to recompile Pine.

Note: Changing the "From:" line may not give you the anonymity you desire, since the "Sender:" or "X-Sender:" line may still include your entire email address.

In Pine 4.00 through Pine 4.21, users can add allow-changing-from to the feature-list in their pinerc file (by editing the file, not via SETUP CONFIGURATION); recompiling is not necessary.

See also 11.12 What do I need to do when compiling PINE to let users change their "From:" line?

A thorough guide concerning this subject is available at infinite ink by Nancy Mcough at the URL:

9.6 How do I define my own headers like Reply-To and Organization?

From Pine's [M]AIN MENU, choose [S]etup, then [C]onfig. Move down to the customized-hdrs option and read the context-sensitive help screen.

9.7 How can I have a signature automatically appended to my mail messages?

From Pine's MAIN MENU, choose Setup, then Signature. The text you enter in the SIGNATURE EDITOR (new in Pine 3.92) will be appended to all messages you compose. With the signature-at-bottom feature in SETUP CONFIGURATION, you can alter the placement of the text in replies (but not forwards).

You can create multiple signature files outside of Pine (using, for example, the Pico editor) and then include whichever one you wish, wherever you wish, in a message you are composing in Pine via the Read File command in the composer. If the file names you choose are very short (e.g. s1, s2) this is relatively painless.

9.8 Can I reduce the frequent prompting to confirm an operation?

If you find Pine's tendency to ask you for confirmation on certain operations annoying, you may suppress several of the prompts. In the SETUP CONFIGURATION screen, reached from the MAIN MENU, look for the features ending in -without-confirm, beginning with auto-, and for include-text-in-reply. Read their help screens to be sure to understand what enabling these features will do.

9.9 How can I filter messages into different incoming folders?

Pine now supports mail filtering, see the Pine Technical Notes for more information

However, the function of other programs, such as (on Unix hosts) "procmail" or "mailagent" are better suited for this task. For details on procmail, see ii Procmail Qstart (by Nancy McGough):

Once you have successfully set up your delivery filtering, you will have new mail arriving in several different folders, in addition to your Inbox. You can then access these folders just like any other mail folder. You can also define a collection of incoming message folders in Pine, through which you can then TAB to read new messages. For more information, see Pine's internal help on the enable-incoming-folders feature in Pine's SETUP CONFIGURATION menu.

If you are looking for a way to move multiple messages that you have already received, see FAQ 5.6: How do I use Pine's aggregate operations?

9.10 How do I control what is displayed in the FOLDER INDEX screen?

The display of fields in the FOLDER INDEX screen can be customized. For example, you can choose to have both the From and the To field (by default, the FOLDER INDEX will list the From address unless it is you, then it will list the To address) of each message shown; to suppress the message number display in each line; or to have the Subject field take up 60% of the line width. From Pine's MAIN MENU, choose Setup, then Config. Then go to the index-format option and read the context-sensitive help screen.

9.11 How can I control association of MIME-attachments with applications and filenames?

This requires one, and possibly two, configuration changes, which may already have been performed by your system administrator:

  1. Create a mailcap file that associates the MIME-type of the attachment with the application you wish to use to open files of that MIME-type; see the section MIME: Reading a Message in the Pine Technical Notes for the name and location of mailcap file(s) on different platforms. (For further information on MIME, see What is MIME?.)
  2. (New in Pine 3.92)
    You can control which filename extension (which is shown in the message MIME-attachment) is associated with which MIME-type by creating a mimetype file; see the section MIME.Types file in the Pine Technical Notes for the name and location of mimetype file(s) on different platforms. You may need to do this to preserve the filename extension in the temporary file that PC-Pine creates to pass attachment data to the associated DOS/Windows-application, if that application requires a certain (temporary) filename extension to open that file; or to make sure that a MIME-attachment with a certain filename extension is opened in the application you desire, even if the MIME-type as identified in the incoming message is not exactly the one which you specified in your mailcap file, which may be the case if the application you have is not of the same version as the application the sender used to create the attachment file that s/he sent to you. This also controls the MIME-typing for messages you send; for example, to assure that files with the extension .PDF are sent as a MIME attachment of type application/acrobat.

Note: many files attached to email messages (though not email messages themselves) can contain viruses -- unless from a trustworthy source, don't open them without checking them for viruses first, as far as possible! If in doubt about the nature of an attachment, ask the sender what application was used to create it; and/or ask the sender to resend the message with the attachment, this time disabling any special encoding techniques that his/her email software may be employing.

Here are a sample MAILCAP file for PC-Pine:

# All lines beginning with the # symbol are comments.

# As some long directory and/or filenames suggest,
# the examples here are for a PC running the Windows95 operating system.

# These examples using certain third-party software programs do not 
# constitute any recommendation thereof by the University of Washington.

# Open image files with Paintshop Pro for viewing/editing:
image/*;"C:\Program Files\Paint Shop Pro\Psp.exe" %s

# Play audio and video files via Internet Explorer WWW browser:
audio/*;"C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer\Iexplore.exe" %s
video/*;"C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer\Iexplore.exe" %s

# View HTML files with Netscape WWW browser:
text/html;"C:\Program Files\netscape\Navigator\program\netscape.exe" %s

# Unpack ZIPed archives with WinZip:
application/zip;"C:\Program Files\WinZip\WinZip32.exe" %s

# View PDF files with Acrobat Reader:
application/pdf;"C:\Acrobat3\Reader\AcroRd32.exe" %s

#You can add other entries below for other MIME types...

and a sample MIMETYPE file for PC-Pine:

# All lines beginning with the # symbol are comments.

# Line format: MIME Type/Subtype, associated filename extensions.

text/plain                     txt dat 
text/html                      html htm

audio/basic                    au snd

audio/x-realaudio              ra ram
audio/x-wav                    wav

image/gif                      gif
image/jpeg                     jpeg jpg jpe
image/tiff                     tiff tif

video/mpeg                     mpeg mpg mpe
video/quicktime                qt mov

application/postscript         ai eps ps
application/rtf                rtf
application/pdf                pdf
application/zip                zip

which you can copy and edit as needed to conform to the location of applications on your system (in the MAILCAP file), and to the filename extensions of files (in the MIMETYPE file). (Note: Unix Pine uses different pathnames and applications than PC-Pine.)

9.12 How can I read a ROT13 encoded message?

Applies to Pine for Unix only
When viewing the message, use the '|' (Pipe) command and give it the following:

        tr '[A-Za-z]' '[N-ZA-Mn-za-m]'

Or write a script including the above line, and pipe the message to the script. Note: the pipe command only works in Pine 3.90 or higher with the enable-unix-pipe-cmd feature must be set.

Another tactic, if it is possible to change fonts during a dialup session, is to switch to a font in which the characters are rearranged in ROT13 order.

For those dialing in from MS-DOS, a package including a VGA font-editing and changing utility is available as freeware. If your terminal program allows you to shell out to DOS then it is possible to use the font-changing program in this package to swap between a cp1252 font (Windows superset of ISO-8859-1) and a ROT13 font. Those using a Windows-based terminal emulator can use a Windows ROT13 font in either Terminal, HyperTerminal, or Notepad.

For more information, see:
Tip # 19: ISO-8859-1 and CP1252 fonts and VGA font-swapping
ROT13 or The Lumber Cartel (TINLC) "Sooper Sekrit" Decoder Ring!
Full Sail Vol.2 No.4: Computers With Character(s)

Thanks to Norman De Forest for contributing to this FAQ.

9.13 How can I make Pine work with a Wyse 60 terminal?

Add the following lines to your feature-list:
termdef-takes-precedence and

The first one allows your termdef file to be used for the specified emulations. The second allows the arrow keys to be used under a mixed environment. Please note, however, that this may break the arrow key navigation in some terminal types.

Thanks to Bryan Springborn for suggesting this FAQ.

9.14 Does Pine offer color support?

Yes, beginning in Pine 4.20.

For color-style, from the [M]ain Menu select [S]etup followed by [K]olor -- [C] was already taken :). For index coloring from the Setup menu, select [R]ules, [I]ndexcoloring.

9.15 How can I perform spell checking with PC-Pine for Windows?

PC-Pine 4.00 has spell-checking built in. For older versions, read on:

Brian Quinion has developed a Spell Checker for Windows that can be used with many Microsoft Windows applications that do not have their own spell checker.

Spell Checker for Windows requires Windows version 3.1 or higher. A 32-bit version of the spell checker is not available yet (as of 27 Sep. 1996) and the 16-bit version of the Spell Checker for Windows does not work with the 32-bit version of PC-Pine.

The following installation instructions have been tested on Windows for Workgroups, Windows NT and Windows95 with the 16-bit version of PC-Pine. This installation assumes that the 16-bit version of PC-Pine is already installed.

  1. Create a subdirectory called pcpspell on your local hard drive (e.g. C:\ - all examples in these instructions assume the installation is on C:\).
  2. The Spell Check program itself, and dictionaries for it in several languages, are available from the World Wide Web at:
    Download the Spell Check program and the dictionary of your choice to your C:\PcSpell directory.
  3. Use a decompression program to expand both of the .zip files you downloaded, beginning with the program itself -- for example,
    1. (the program itself, version 3.00), and then
    2. (the US English dictionary).
    During the expansion of the dictionary, you'll get a message that README.1ST already exits. Choose R to rename the second README.1ST file to README. Make certain that you read both of these information files at the end of the installation.
  4. From Windows, execute C:\PcSpell\Spell.exe. The installation may take a couple of minutes to complete.
  5. After closing the Options dialog box, run PC-Pine, compose a message, and enter ^T to invoke the spell checker from within the message window.
  6. For Spell Checker for Windows to work automatically with each reboot, copy the program's DLL file and the dictionary file (for example, Spellch3.dll and useng.scd) to the directory C:\Windows\System\. If the spell checker still does not work automatically, try running C:\PcSpell\spell.exe after each reboot, close spell's window and try again.
  7. You can remove the spell checker by executing C:\PcSpell\Spell.exe and clicking on "uninstall". After restarting Windows, you can then remove all files in the C:\PcSpell directory on your local hard drive. Also, delete the two .dll and .scd files you copied to C:\Windows\System\.

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