Columbia MM
MM Manual


When you are writing a message in MM at the prompt Message..., you normally are in a very simple editor sometimes called Text Mode. This section describes how to use Text Mode.


 Message (End with CTRL/D or ESC
  Use CTRL/B to insert a file, CTRL/E to enter editor, CTRL/F to run text
  through a filter, CTRL/K to redisplay message, CTRL/L to clear screen and
  redisplay, CTRL/N to abort, CTRL/P to run a program and insert output.):

Let's meet on Sept 21 at 2:00 to go over plans for this semester.


Line break is done automatically. You don't have to press the return key to get to the next line.

To make a change, use the backspace or delete key to move the cursor to the left, wiping out everything as it goes, until you reach the spot desired, and then type forward from there. The cursor even moves back to previous lines if you keep pressing the delete key.

End by pressing the escape key or control-d.

There are numerous commands you can give by pressing control letters. Hold down the control key and type the letter (as you would use the shift key to type a capital letter).

The following is a complete list of the control-letter commands in Text Mode. Some of them are described in detail elsewhere by topic.

The redisplay commands, especially control-l, which clears the screen first, can be very valuable if your screen gets cluttered with junk, from noisy phone lines, system messages, or accidental use of the control-letter commands (like control-b) that leave prompts on the screen.

The erasing commands, control-u and -w, can be used in place of holding down the backspace/delete key.

The command control-v lets you insert control letters and other special characters into the text. This is sometimes called a literal or escape character. The most useful character to insert is control-l, form feed, which makes many terminals stop displaying text at that point, until the person reading the message presses the space bar or return key. To insert control-l, you have to type control-v control-l. An interesting character to insert is a control-g, bell, which makes the terminal beep when the message is read; type control-v control-g to insert it. Use control characters sparingly.


The variable autowrap-column defines at what point the line wraps, that is, how long a line should be before the cursor jumps to the next line automatically as you are typing your message. When the cursor jumps, if it is in the middle of a word the whole word jumps with it, so the word is not divided. The variable takes a number as a value: a positive number to specify columns (characters) counted from the left, or a negative number to count from the right. The setting 0 (zero) means no wrap should be done at all.

The usual setting is -7, that is, the seventh column from the right. Most terminals have 79 or 80 columns. If your own display is wider than 80 columns, you should still wrap to less than 80 for the convenience of your readers on standard terminals. The main reason to leave 7 columns open on the right is to leave a little room for someone quoting your message to set it off a few spaces from the left margin; for example, the MM command reply including inserts the original message with a > and a space at the beginning of each line.


A feature that is normally turned off is automatic sending. The variables escape-automatic-send and control-d-automatic-send are normally set to no. If you set either one to yes, then the escape key or control-d, respectively, would not only end the text but also send the message. That saves you typing the send command at the S> prompt, and in fact it skips the Send> prompt entirely. The danger is that you might end up sending something unfinished, and if you set both to yes there would be no way to get to the S> prompt to review and change the message. Probably you would change one to automatic sending and leave the other as an escape to the S> prompt. To change, type set control-d-automatic-send yes (for example), and the save-init. Consider leaving both at no, and changing default-send-command to send, so you go to the S> prompt, but can send from there by just pressing the return key; it's slightly safer.

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