Columbia MM
MM Manual


Use a mailing list if you repeatedly send mail to the same group of people. The simplest way to do so, for a short list, is to define a mail alias for the list. For longer lists, it is generally better to keep the list in a separate file, and refer to it directly or by a mail alias.


Use the define command at any MM prompt to define a mail alias (nickname) for a short list of addresses. Type define, the mail alias you would like, and the list of addresses. This is exactly the same procedure as defining a nickname for one address.

For example, suppose you regularly have messages to send to three people, the user ids abc6, bcd8 and cde7. You could define an alias name for the group like mystaff. To keep the alias for future use, you must give the save-init command before you stop the MM session.

MM>define mystaff abc6, bcd8, cde7

Once you have defined an alias, you can use it at any place where you enter an address in MM. If you use display to review the message before sending, you will see the real addresses. You also see the real addresses when you send the message, like this:

abc6... Queued
bcd8... Queued
cde7... Queued


Longer mailing lists should be kept in separate files, so you can edit them efficiently. If you just define a mail alias, as shown above, you can change it only by defining it again, meaning you have to retype the whole list.

The file must contain only mail addresses, separated by commas. You can break to a new line at any comma; putting each address on its own line may simplify editing. You can include comments by putting # before the comments. Blank lines are also allowed.

You may want to use the format real name <address> so you can keep track of the real names of the people. The entire address including the real name will be placed in the To or cc field, but only the address in < > angle brackets will be used for delivery.

This sample has a comment line starting with #, and two of the addresses have the real name followed by the address in < > brackets. Neither of these features is required; you could really just list the addresses. Do not forget the commas between addresses; at the end of the list a comma is optional.

#Mailing list for staff
Aethelred B Cooper <abc6>,
Claudius D Ergo <cde7>

Suppose you name the above file mystaff. To use it as a mailing list, type an @ sign and the name of the file:

 To: @mystaff

You can also define a mail alias referring to the file. The preferred form is to use two @ signs:

MM>define mystaff @@mystaff

Here we have defined a mail alias mystaff to be the addresses in the file mystaff. The alias and the file don't have to have the same name, but it would probably be easier to maintain them if they do. The only advantage to using the alias is that you don't have to type the @ sign every time you send mail to mystaff; however, you might also define an alias to refer to two files, or to a file plus some other names, and so on.

Using two @ signs in the mail alias definition means that MM should read the addresses out of the file at the time you send mail. If you use one @ sign, MM will read the addresses when it starts up. There would be a difference between the two methods if you change the file of addresses while MM is running; using two @ signs ensures that the latest version of the file is used. Using two @ signs also lets MM start faster since it only reads the list when it's used.

When you use a mailing list as an address, MM may report trouble with an address with this wording: Invalid address: [address] Use anyway?. You can reply y or n about whether to try mailing to that address. However, you may want to abort and go fix the file. One common reason for the trouble is a missing comma between addresses, leading MM to run two addresses together. The prompt is controlled by the variable use-invalid-address at its normal setting of ask; you can change it to yes or no but then you won't know about the problem right away.


In some cases you might want to hide the mailing list, that is, not show all the addresses in the message. One good reason is that the To header field might be extremely long. The variable aliases-use-groups, normally set to no, can be reset by typing set aliases-use-groups yes, and then when you address mail to an alias, the address field (To or cc) will contain the name of the alias followed by :; instead of the real addresses. This is a variable that you might want to reset occasionally just to do a particular mailing; if you want to save the current setting, give the save-init command.

The disadvantage of hiding the list is that people who receive the message cannot use reply all (or its equivalent in other mailers) to send a reply to everyone, since the only real address in the message they get will be your own. Be careful also that the name of the list is for public viewing: it's fun to have a list called bozos as long as no one else sees the name!

[ Columbia MM Manual ]