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36. Sending Mail

To send a message in Emacs, you start by typing a command (C-x m) to select and initialize the ‘*mail*’ buffer. Then you edit the text and headers of the message in this buffer, and type another command (C-c C-s or C-c C-c) to send the message.

C-x m

Begin composing a message to send (compose-mail).

C-x 4 m

Likewise, but display the message in another window (compose-mail-other-window).

C-x 5 m

Likewise, but make a new frame (compose-mail-other-frame).

C-c C-s

In Mail mode, send the message (mail-send).

C-c C-c

Send the message and bury the mail buffer (mail-send-and-exit).

The command C-x m (compose-mail) selects a buffer named ‘*mail*’ and initializes it with the skeleton of an outgoing message. C-x 4 m (compose-mail-other-window) selects the ‘*mail*’ buffer in a different window, leaving the previous current buffer visible. C-x 5 m (compose-mail-other-frame) creates a new frame to select the ‘*mail*’ buffer.

Because the mail-composition buffer is an ordinary Emacs buffer, you can switch to other buffers while in the middle of composing mail, and switch back later (or never). If you use the C-x m command again when you have been composing another message but have not sent it, you are asked to confirm before the old message is erased. If you answer n, the ‘*mail*’ buffer remains selected with its old contents, so you can finish the old message and send it. C-u C-x m is another way to do this. Sending the message marks the ‘*mail*’ buffer “unmodified,” which avoids the need for confirmation when C-x m is next used.

If you are composing a message in the ‘*mail*’ buffer and want to send another message before finishing the first, rename the ‘*mail*’ buffer using M-x rename-uniquely (see section Miscellaneous Buffer Operations). Then you can use C-x m or its variants described above to make a new ‘*mail*’ buffer. Once you've done that, you can work with each mail buffer independently.

The variable mail-default-directory controls the default directory for mail buffers, and also says where to put their auto-save files.


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