Columbia MM
MM Manual


You can help people contact you by giving your address clearly and by posting some information for people using a finger command.


It is common practice, when sending network mail, to add what is called a sig or .signature file to your messages. The sig is a file you create with an editor that is to be tacked on the end of your messages. The usual content is your name, title, organization, phone number, electronic mail address, and so on, to identify you properly to people you are contacting.

The name of the file must be .signature; notice the dot (period) at the beginning of the name. It should be in your home (main) directory. This is a typical .signature file, for user jb51:

* Joseph Brennan                        *                                 *
* Electronic Mail Consultant            *  "Join the movement to stop     *
* AcIS  / Columbia University           *  the use of pointless quotes    *
*                    *  in .signature files."          *
* Bitnet: jb51@cunixf                  *                                 *

The above .signature is intended to illustrate also some of the junk all too common in .signature files: artwork made out of punctuation marks, and the inclusion of favorite quotations. The author of this manual does not really use this sig! Please keep it short or you will find that it annoys people.

To use the .signature file, you have to set the variable append-signature, which is normally set to never. You have two choices, always (or yes) and ask. If you set to always, MM will add the .signature file to all messages you send, while if you set to ask, MM will ask you for each message whether to add it. In the following example, it is set to always:

MM>set append-signature always

The .signature file is not appended to your message until mailing, so you do not see it when you use display to check an outgoing message, or when you edit one.

To cancel use of a .signature file, just type set append-signature never and then save-init.

If you want to put different signature files on different messages, don't use a .signature file. Instead, use the insert command at the S> prompt. If you give the signature files distinctive names beginning with dots, you can probably type the command with just a few keystrokes, using the TAB key to complete the filename, like this command to insert the file .acis.

S>in .acTAB


You may notice when you use finger that some people have posted information for the labels plan and project. The following example shows where the information comes from:

MM>finger jb51
jb51     Joseph Brennan       Last login Aug  9 10:15 from ttyue (
Project: This is the first line of a .project file.
No new mail.

This is the content of a .plan file, which you can use to put up
interesting and/or stupid information and quotations.  This one has one
blank line at top and bottom.

Send me mail at, not here.


As this example states, the information comes from two files, with the names .project and .plan; both names begin with a dot (period). They should be in your home (main) directory. The .project file usually describes what you do, like a job title or major.

You can create one or both files if you want. Use Emacs. Only the first line of a .project file is used, while the .plan file can be as long as you want (but, as with sigs, try to control yourself).

There is one other catch to this. You have to give permission to other people to search your home directory and read these two files, or they can't see them. In the following example, the first command gives permission for the directory, and the second gives permission for the two files. Do this while in your home (main) directory.

$ cd
$ chmod a+x .
$ chmod a+r .plan .project

To test the permissions, finger your own id using your full user@host address (not just your userid).

Giving search permission for your home the directory only allows people to access the directory. They cannot read any of your files unless you give read permission for the files, as was done above for .plan and .project. They cannot even list the names of the files unless you give read permission on the directory.

For more information on chmod and file permissions, see the online help for chmod (type man chmod at the UNIX shell prompt) or a book about basics of the UNIX operating system.

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