Frequently Asked Questions

$Id: gnus-faq.xml,v 1.32 2004/01/06 20:34:15 fschmitt Exp $


Table of Contents

Changes
Introduction
Frequently Asked Questions with Answers
Glossary

Abstract

This is the new Gnus Frequently Asked Questions list. If you have a Web browser, the official hypertext version is at http://my.gnus.org/FAQ/, the Docbook source is available from http://sourceforge.net.

Please submit features and suggestions to the FAQ discussion list. The list is protected against junk mail with qconfirm. As a subscriber, your submissions will automatically pass. You can also subscribe to the list by sending a blank email to faq-discuss-subscribe@my.gnus.org and browse the archive.

Changes

This file is $Id: gnus-faq.xml,v 1.32 2004/01/06 20:34:15 fschmitt Exp $.

  • Updated FAQ to reflect release of Gnus 5.10 and start of No Gnus development.

Introduction

This is the Gnus Frequently Asked Questions list.

Gnus is a Usenet Newsreader and Electronic Mail User Agent implemented as a part of Emacs. It's been around in some form for almost a decade now, and has been distributed as a standard part of Emacs for much of that time. Gnus 5 is the latest (and greatest) incarnation. The original version was called GNUS, and was written by Masanobu UMEDA. When autumn crept up in '94, Lars Magne Ingebrigtsen grew bored and decided to rewrite Gnus.

Its biggest strength is the fact that it is extremely customizable. It is somewhat intimidating at first glance, but most of the complexity can be ignored until you're ready to take advantage of it. If you receive a reasonable volume of e-mail (you're on various mailing lists), or you would like to read high-volume mailing lists but cannot keep up with them, or read high volume newsgroups or are just bored, then Gnus is what you want.

This FAQ was maintained by Justin Sheehy until March 2002. He would like to thank Steve Baur and Per Abrahamsen for doing a wonderful job with this FAQ before him. We would like to do the same - thanks, Justin!

If you have a Web browser, the official hypertext version is at: http://my.gnus.org/FAQ/. This version is much nicer than the unofficial hypertext versions that are archived at Utrecht, Oxford, Smart Pages, Ohio State, and other FAQ archives. See the resources question below if you want information on obtaining it in another format.

The information contained here was compiled with the assistance of the Gnus development mailing list, and any errors or misprints are the my.gnus.org team's fault, sorry.

Frequently Asked Questions with Answers

1. Installation FAQ
1.1. What is the latest version of Gnus?
1.2. What's new in 5.10?
1.3. Where and how to get Gnus?
1.4. What to do with the tarball now?
1.5. I sometimes read references to No Gnus and Oort Gnus, what are those?
1.6. Which version of Emacs do I need?
1.7. How do I run Gnus on both Emacs and XEmacs?
2. Startup / Group buffer
2.1. Every time I start Gnus I get a message "Gnus auto-save file exists. Do you want to read it?", what does this mean and how to prevent it?
2.2. Gnus doesn't remember which groups I'm subscribed to, what's this?
2.3. How to change the format of the lines in Group buffer?
2.4. My group buffer becomes a bit crowded, is there a way to sort my groups into categories so I can easier browse through them?
2.5. How to manually sort the groups in Group buffer? How to sort the groups in a topic?
3. Getting Messages
3.1. I just installed Gnus, started it via M-x gnus but it only says "nntp (news) open error", what to do?
3.2. I'm working under Windows and have no idea what ~/.gnus means.
3.3. My news server requires authentication, how to store user name and password on disk?
3.4. Gnus seems to start up OK, but I can't find out how to subscribe to a group.
3.5. Gnus doesn't show all groups / Gnus says I'm not allowed to post on this server as well as I am, what's that?
3.6. I want Gnus to fetch news from several servers, is this possible?
3.7. And how about local spool files?
3.8. OK, reading news works now, but I want to be able to read my mail with Gnus, too. How to do it?
3.9. And what about IMAP?
3.10. At the office we use one of those MS Exchange servers, can I use Gnus to read my mail from it?
3.11. Can I tell Gnus not to delete the mails on the server it retrieves via POP3?
4. Reading messages
4.1. When I enter a group, all read messages are gone. How to view them again?
4.2. How to tell Gnus to show an important message every time I enter a group, even when it's read?
4.3. How to view the headers of a message?
4.4. How to view the raw unformatted message?
4.5. How can I change the headers Gnus displays by default at the top of the article buffer?
4.6. I'd like Gnus NOT to render HTML-mails but show me the text part if it's available. How to do it?
4.7. Can I use some other browser than w3 to render my HTML-mails?
4.8. Is there anything I can do to make poorly formatted mails more readable?
4.9. Is there a way to automatically ignore posts by specific authors or with specific words in the subject? And can I highlight more interesting ones in some way?
4.10. How can I disable threading in some (e.g. mail-) groups, or set other variables specific for some groups?
4.11. Can I highlight messages written by me and follow-ups to those?
4.12. The number of total messages in a group which Gnus displays in group buffer is by far to high, especially in mail groups. Is this a bug?
4.13. I don't like the layout of summary and article buffer, how to change it? Perhaps even a three pane display?
4.14. I don't like the way the Summary buffer looks, how to tweak it?
4.15. How to split incoming mails in several groups?
5. Composing messages
5.1. What are the basic commands I need to know for sending mail and postings?
5.2. How to enable automatic word-wrap when composing messages?
5.3. How to set stuff like From, Organization, Reply-To, signature...?
5.4. Can I set things like From, Signature etc group based on the group I post too?
5.5. Is there a spell-checker? Perhaps even on-the-fly spell-checking?
5.6. Can I set the dictionary based on the group I'm posting to?
5.7. Is there some kind of address-book, so I needn't remember all those email addresses?
5.8. Sometimes I see little images at the top of article buffer. What's that and how can I send one with my postings, too?
5.9. Sometimes I accidentally hit r instead of f in newsgroups. Can Gnus warn me, when I'm replying by mail in newsgroups?
5.10. How to tell Gnus not to generate a sender header?
5.11. I want Gnus to locally store copies of my send mail and news, how to do it?
5.12. People tell me my Message-IDs are not correct, why aren't they and how to fix it?
6. Old messages
6.1. How to import my old mail into Gnus?
6.2. How to archive interesting messages?
6.3. How to search for a specific message?
6.4. How to get rid of old unwanted mail?
6.5. I want that all read messages are expired (at least in some groups). How to do it?
6.6. I don't want expiration to delete my mails but to move them to another group.
7. Gnus in a dial-up environment
7.1. I don't have a permanent connection to the net, how can I minimize the time I've got to be connected?
7.2. So what was this thing about the Agent?
7.3. I want to store article bodies on disk, too. How to do it?
7.4. How to tell Gnus not to try to send mails / postings while I'm offline?
8. Getting help
8.1. How to find information and help inside Emacs?
8.2. I can't find anything in the Gnus manual about X (e.g. attachments, PGP, MIME...), is it not documented?
8.3. Which websites should I know?
8.4. Which mailing lists and newsgroups are there?
8.5. Where to report bugs?
8.6. I need real-time help, where to find it?
9. Tuning Gnus
9.1. Starting Gnus is really slow, how to speed it up?
9.2. How to speed up the process of entering a group?
9.3. Sending mail becomes slower and slower, what's up?

1. Installation FAQ

1.1. What is the latest version of Gnus?
1.2. What's new in 5.10?
1.3. Where and how to get Gnus?
1.4. What to do with the tarball now?
1.5. I sometimes read references to No Gnus and Oort Gnus, what are those?
1.6. Which version of Emacs do I need?
1.7. How do I run Gnus on both Emacs and XEmacs?
1.1.

What is the latest version of Gnus?

Jingle please: Gnus 5.10 is released, get it while it's hot! As well as the step in version number is rather small, Gnus 5.10 has tons of new features which you shouldn't miss. The current release (5.10.6) should be at least as stable as the latest release of the 5.8 series.

1.2.

What's new in 5.10?

First of all, you should have a look into the file GNUS-NEWS in the toplevel directory of the Gnus tarball, there the most important changes are listed. Here's a short list of the changes I find especially important/interesting:

  • Major rewrite of the Gnus agent, Gnus agent is now active by default.

    Many new article washing functions for dealing with ugly formatted articles.

    Anti Spam features.

    Message-utils now included in Gnus.

    New format specifiers for summary lines, e.g. %B for a complex trn-style thread tree.

1.3.

Where and how to get Gnus?

The latest released version of Gnus isn't included in Emacs 21, therefor you should get the Gnus tarball from http://www.gnus.org/dist/gnus.tar.gz or via anonymous FTP from ftp://ftp.gnus.org/pub/gnus/gnus.tar.gz. If you use XEmacs instead of Gnu Emacs you can use XEmacs' package system instead.

1.4.

What to do with the tarball now?

Untar it via tar xvzf gnus.tar.gz and do the common ./configure; make; make install circle. (under MS-Windows either get the Cygwin environment from http://www.cygwin.com which allows you to do what's described above or unpack the tarball with some packer (e.g. Winace from http://www.winace.com) and use the batch-file make.bat included in the tarball to install Gnus.) If you don't want to (or aren't allowed to) install Gnus system-wide, you can install it in your home directory and add the following lines to your ~/.xemacs/init.el or ~/.emacs:

(add-to-list 'load-path "/path/to/gnus/lisp")
(if (featurep 'xemacs)
    (add-to-list 'Info-directory-list "/path/to/gnus/texi/")
  (add-to-list 'Info-default-directory-list "/path/to/gnus/texi/"))
            

Make sure that you don't have any Gnus related stuff before this line, on MS Windows use something like "C:/path/to/lisp" (yes, "/").

1.5.

I sometimes read references to No Gnus and Oort Gnus, what are those?

Oort Gnus was the name of the development version of Gnus, which became Gnus 5.10 in autumn 2003. No Gnus is the name of the current development version which will once become Gnus 5.12 or Gnus 6. (If you're wondering why not 5.11, the odd version numbers are normally used for the Gnus versions bundled with Gnu Emacs)

1.6.

Which version of Emacs do I need?

Gnus 5.10 requires an Emacs version that is greater than or equal to Emacs 20.3 or XEmacs 21.1. The development versions of Gnus (aka No Gnus) require Emacs 21 or XEmacs 21.4.

1.7.

How do I run Gnus on both Emacs and XEmacs?

You can't use the same copy of Gnus in both as the Lisp files are byte-compiled to a format which is different depending on which Emacs did the compilation. Get one copy of Gnus for Emacs and one for XEmacs.

2. Startup / Group buffer

2.1. Every time I start Gnus I get a message "Gnus auto-save file exists. Do you want to read it?", what does this mean and how to prevent it?
2.2. Gnus doesn't remember which groups I'm subscribed to, what's this?
2.3. How to change the format of the lines in Group buffer?
2.4. My group buffer becomes a bit crowded, is there a way to sort my groups into categories so I can easier browse through them?
2.5. How to manually sort the groups in Group buffer? How to sort the groups in a topic?
2.1.

Every time I start Gnus I get a message "Gnus auto-save file exists. Do you want to read it?", what does this mean and how to prevent it?

This message means that the last time you used Gnus, it wasn't properly exited and therefor couldn't write its informations to disk (e.g. which messages you read), you are now asked if you want to restore those informations from the auto-save file.

To prevent this message make sure you exit Gnus via q in group buffer instead of just killing Emacs.

2.2.

Gnus doesn't remember which groups I'm subscribed to, what's this?

You get the message described in the q/a pair above while starting Gnus, right? It's an other symptom for the same problem, so read the answer above.

2.3.

How to change the format of the lines in Group buffer?

You've got to tweak the value of the variable gnus-group-line-format. See the manual node "Group Line Specification" for information on how to do this. An example for this (guess from whose .gnus :-)):

(setq gnus-group-line-format "%P%M%S[%5t]%5y : %(%g%)\n")
            

2.4.

My group buffer becomes a bit crowded, is there a way to sort my groups into categories so I can easier browse through them?

Gnus offers the topic mode, it allows you to sort your groups in, well, topics, e.g. all groups dealing with Linux under the topic linux, all dealing with music under the topic music and all dealing with scottish music under the topic scottish which is a subtopic of music.

To enter topic mode, just hit t while in Group buffer. Now you can use T n to create a topic at point and T m to move a group to a specific topic. For more commands see the manual or the menu. You might want to include the %P specifier at the beginning of your gnus-group-line-format variable to have the groups nicely indented.

2.5.

How to manually sort the groups in Group buffer? How to sort the groups in a topic?

Move point over the group you want to move and hit C-k, now move point to the place where you want the group to be and hit C-y.

3. Getting Messages

3.1. I just installed Gnus, started it via M-x gnus but it only says "nntp (news) open error", what to do?
3.2. I'm working under Windows and have no idea what ~/.gnus means.
3.3. My news server requires authentication, how to store user name and password on disk?
3.4. Gnus seems to start up OK, but I can't find out how to subscribe to a group.
3.5. Gnus doesn't show all groups / Gnus says I'm not allowed to post on this server as well as I am, what's that?
3.6. I want Gnus to fetch news from several servers, is this possible?
3.7. And how about local spool files?
3.8. OK, reading news works now, but I want to be able to read my mail with Gnus, too. How to do it?
3.9. And what about IMAP?
3.10. At the office we use one of those MS Exchange servers, can I use Gnus to read my mail from it?
3.11. Can I tell Gnus not to delete the mails on the server it retrieves via POP3?
3.1.

I just installed Gnus, started it via M-x gnus but it only says "nntp (news) open error", what to do?

You've got to tell Gnus where to fetch the news from. Read the documentation for information on how to do this. As a first start, put those lines in ~/.gnus:

(setq gnus-select-method '(nntp "news.yourprovider.net"))
(setq user-mail-address "you@yourprovider.net")
(setq user-full-name "Your Name")
	    

3.2.

I'm working under Windows and have no idea what ~/.gnus means.

The ~/ means the home directory where Gnus and Emacs look for the configuration files. However, you don't really need to know what this means, it suffices that Emacs knows what it means :-) You can type C-x C-f ~/.gnus RET (yes, with the forward slash, even on Windows), and Emacs will open the right file for you. (It will most likely be new, and thus empty.) However, I'd discourage you from doing so, since the directory Emacs chooses will most certainly not be what you want, so let's do it the correct way. The first thing you've got to do is to create a suitable directory (no blanks in directory name please) e.g. c:\myhome. Then you must set the environment variable HOME to this directory. To do this under Win9x or Me include the line

SET HOME=C:\myhome
	    

in your autoexec.bat and reboot. Under NT, 2000 and XP, hit Winkey+Pause/Break to enter system options (if it doesn't work, go to Control Panel -> System). There you'll find the possibility to set environment variables, create a new one with name HOME and value C:\myhome, a reboot is not necessary.

Now to create ~/.gnus, say C-x C-f ~/.gnus RET C-x C-s. in Emacs.

3.3.

My news server requires authentication, how to store user name and password on disk?

Create a file ~/.authinfo which includes for each server a line like this

machine news.yourprovider.net login YourUserName password YourPassword

. Make sure that the file isn't readable to others if you work on a OS which is capable of doing so. (Under Unix say

chmod 600 ~/.authinfo

in a shell.)

3.4.

Gnus seems to start up OK, but I can't find out how to subscribe to a group.

If you know the name of the group say U name.of.group RET in group buffer (use the tab-completion Luke). Otherwise hit ^ in group buffer, this brings you to the server buffer. Now place point (the cursor) over the server which carries the group you want, hit RET, move point to the group you want to subscribe to and say u to subscribe to it.

3.5.

Gnus doesn't show all groups / Gnus says I'm not allowed to post on this server as well as I am, what's that?

Some providers allow restricted anonymous access and full access only after authorization. To make Gnus send authinfo to those servers append

force yes

to the line for those servers in ~/.authinfo.

3.6.

I want Gnus to fetch news from several servers, is this possible?

Of course. You can specify more sources for articles in the variable gnus-secondary-select-methods. Add something like this in ~/.gnus:

(add-to-list 'gnus-secondary-select-methods '(nntp "news.yourSecondProvider.net"))
(add-to-list 'gnus-secondary-select-methods '(nntp "news.yourThirdProvider.net"))
	    

3.7.

And how about local spool files?

No problem, this is just one more select method called nnspool, so you want this:

(add-to-list 'gnus-secondary-select-methods '(nnspool ""))
	    

Or this if you don't want an NNTP Server as primary news source:

(setq gnus-select-method '(nnspool ""))
	    

Gnus will look for the spool file in /usr/spool/news, if you want something different, change the line above to something like this:

(add-to-list 'gnus-secondary-select-methods
             '(nnspool "" (nnspool-directory "/usr/local/myspoolddir")))
	    

This sets the spool directory for this server only. You might have to specify more stuff like the program used to post articles, see the Gnus manual on how to do this.

3.8.

OK, reading news works now, but I want to be able to read my mail with Gnus, too. How to do it?

That's a bit harder since there are many possible sources for mail, many possible ways for storing mail and many different ways for sending mail. The most common cases are these: 1: You want to read your mail from a pop3 server and send them directly to a SMTP Server 2: Some program like fetchmail retrieves your mail and stores it on disk from where Gnus shall read it. Outgoing mail is sent by Sendmail, Postfix or some other MTA. Sometimes, you even need a combination of the above cases.

However, the first thing to do is to tell Gnus in which way it should store the mail, in Gnus terminology which back end to use. Gnus supports many different back ends, the most commonly used one is nnml. It stores every mail in one file and is therefor quite fast. However you might prefer a one file per group approach if your file system has problems with many small files, the nnfolder back end is then probably the choice for you. To use nnml add the following to ~/.gnus:

(add-to-list 'gnus-secondary-select-methods '(nnml ""))
	    

As you might have guessed, if you want nnfolder, it's

(add-to-list 'gnus-secondary-select-methods '(nnfolder ""))
	    

Now we need to tell Gnus, where to get it's mail from. If it's a POP3 server, then you need something like this:

(eval-after-load "mail-source"
  '(add-to-list 'mail-sources '(pop :server "pop.YourProvider.net"
                                    :user "yourUserName"
                                    :password "yourPassword")))
	    

Make sure ~/.gnus isn't readable to others if you store your password there. If you want to read your mail from a traditional spool file on your local machine, it's

(eval-after-load "mail-source"
  '(add-to-list 'mail-sources '(file :path "/path/to/spool/file"))
	    

If it's a Maildir, with one file per message as used by postfix, Qmail and (optionally) fetchmail it's

(eval-after-load "mail-source"
  '(add-to-list 'mail-sources '(maildir :path "/path/to/Maildir/"
                                        :subdirs ("cur" "new")))
	    

And finally if you want to read your mail from several files in one directory, for example because procmail already split your mail, it's

(eval-after-load "mail-source"
  '(add-to-list 'mail-sources '(directory :path "/path/to/procmail-dir/"
                                          :suffix ".prcml"))
	    

Where :suffix ".prcml" tells Gnus only to use files with the suffix .prcml.

OK, now you only need to tell Gnus how to send mail. If you want to send mail via sendmail (or whichever MTA is playing the role of sendmail on your system), you don't need to do anything. However, if you want to send your mail to an SMTP Server you need the following in your ~/.gnus

(setq send-mail-function 'smtpmail-send-it)
(setq message-send-mail-function 'smtpmail-send-it)
(setq smtpmail-default-smtp-server "smtp.yourProvider.net")
	    

3.9.

And what about IMAP?

There are two ways of using IMAP with Gnus. The first one is to use IMAP like POP3, that means Gnus fetches the mail from the IMAP server and stores it on disk. If you want to do this (you don't really want to do this) add the following to ~/.gnus

(add-to-list 'mail-sources '(imap :server "mail.mycorp.com"
                                  :user "username"
                                  :pass "password"
                                  :stream network
                                  :authentication login
                                  :mailbox "INBOX"
                                  :fetchflag "\\Seen"))
	    

You might have to tweak the values for stream and/or authentification, see the Gnus manual node "Mail Source Specifiers" for possible values.

If you want to use IMAP the way it's intended, you've got to follow a different approach. You've got to add the nnimap back end to your select method and give the information about the server there.

(add-to-list 'gnus-secondary-select-methods 
                         '(nnimap "Give the baby a name"
                                  (nnimap-address "imap.yourProvider.net")
                                  (nnimap-port 143)
                                  (nnimap-list-pattern "archive.*")))
	    

Again, you might have to specify how to authenticate to the server if Gnus can't guess the correct way, see the Manual Node "IMAP" for detailed information.

3.10.

At the office we use one of those MS Exchange servers, can I use Gnus to read my mail from it?

Offer your administrator a pair of new running shoes for activating IMAP on the server and follow the instructions above.

3.11.

Can I tell Gnus not to delete the mails on the server it retrieves via POP3?

First of all, that's not the way POP3 is intended to work, if you have the possibility, you should use the IMAP Protocol if you want your messages to stay on the server. Nevertheless there might be situations where you need the feature, but sadly Gnus itself has no predefined functionality to do so.

However this is Gnus county so there are possibilities to achieve what you want. The easiest way is to get an external program which retrieves copies of the mail and stores them on disk, so Gnus can read it from there. On Unix systems you could use e.g. fetchmail for this, on MS Windows you can use Hamster, an excellent local news and mail server.

The other solution would be, to replace the method Gnus uses to get mail from POP3 servers by one which is capable of leaving the mail on the server. If you use XEmacs, get the package mail-lib, it includes an enhanced pop3.el, look in the file, there's documentation on how to tell Gnus to use it and not to delete the retrieved mail. For GNU Emacs look for the file epop3.el which can do the same (If you know the home of this file, please send me an e-mail). You can also tell Gnus to use an external program (e.g. fetchmail) to fetch your mail, see the info node "Mail Source Specifiers" in the Gnus manual on how to do it.

4. Reading messages

4.1. When I enter a group, all read messages are gone. How to view them again?
4.2. How to tell Gnus to show an important message every time I enter a group, even when it's read?
4.3. How to view the headers of a message?
4.4. How to view the raw unformatted message?
4.5. How can I change the headers Gnus displays by default at the top of the article buffer?
4.6. I'd like Gnus NOT to render HTML-mails but show me the text part if it's available. How to do it?
4.7. Can I use some other browser than w3 to render my HTML-mails?
4.8. Is there anything I can do to make poorly formatted mails more readable?
4.9. Is there a way to automatically ignore posts by specific authors or with specific words in the subject? And can I highlight more interesting ones in some way?
4.10. How can I disable threading in some (e.g. mail-) groups, or set other variables specific for some groups?
4.11. Can I highlight messages written by me and follow-ups to those?
4.12. The number of total messages in a group which Gnus displays in group buffer is by far to high, especially in mail groups. Is this a bug?
4.13. I don't like the layout of summary and article buffer, how to change it? Perhaps even a three pane display?
4.14. I don't like the way the Summary buffer looks, how to tweak it?
4.15. How to split incoming mails in several groups?
4.1.

When I enter a group, all read messages are gone. How to view them again?

If you enter the group by saying RET in summary buffer with point over the group, only unread and ticked messages are loaded. Say C-u RET instead to load all available messages. If you want only the e.g. 300 newest say C-u 300 RET

Loading only unread messages can be annoying if you have threaded view enabled, say

(setq gnus-fetch-old-headers 'some)
	      

in ~/.gnus to load enough old articles to prevent teared threads, replace 'some with t to load all articles (Warning: Both settings enlarge the amount of data which is fetched when you enter a group and slow down the process of entering a group).

If you already use Gnus 5.10.0, you can say /o N In summary buffer to load the last N messages, this feature is not available in 5.8.8

If you don't want all old messages, but the parent of the message you're just reading, you can say ^, if you want to retrieve the whole thread the message you're just reading belongs to, A T is your friend.

4.2.

How to tell Gnus to show an important message every time I enter a group, even when it's read?

You can tick important messages. To do this hit u while point is in summary buffer over the message. When you want to remove the mark, hit either d (this deletes the tick mark and set's unread mark) or M c (which deletes all marks for the message).

4.3.

How to view the headers of a message?

Say t to show all headers, one more t hides them again.

4.4.

How to view the raw unformatted message?

Say C-u g to show the raw message g returns to normal view.

4.5.

How can I change the headers Gnus displays by default at the top of the article buffer?

The variable gnus-visible-headers controls which headers are shown, its value is a regular expression, header lines which match it are shown. So if you want author, subject, date, and if the header exists, Followup-To and MUA / NUA say this in ~/.gnus:

(setq gnus-visible-headers 
"^\\(From:\\|Subject:\\|Date:\\|Followup-To:\\|X-Newsreader:\\|User-Agent:\\|X-Mailer:\\)")
	    

4.6.

I'd like Gnus NOT to render HTML-mails but show me the text part if it's available. How to do it?

Say

(eval-after-load "mm-decode"
 '(progn 
      (add-to-list 'mm-discouraged-alternatives "text/html")
      (add-to-list 'mm-discouraged-alternatives "text/richtext")))
	    

in ~/.gnus. If you don't want HTML rendered, even if there's no text alternative add

(setq mm-automatic-display (remove "text/html" mm-automatic-display))
	    

too.

4.7.

Can I use some other browser than w3 to render my HTML-mails?

Only if you use Gnus 5.10.0 or younger. In this case you've got the choice between w3, w3m, links, lynx and html2text, which one is used can be specified in the variable mm-text-html-renderer, so if you want links to render your mail say

(setq mm-text-html-renderer 'links)
	    

4.8.

Is there anything I can do to make poorly formatted mails more readable?

Gnus offers you several functions to "wash" incoming mail, you can find them if you browse through the menu, item Article->Washing. The most interesting ones are probably "Wrap long lines" ( W w ), "Decode ROT13" ( W r ) and "Outlook Deuglify" which repairs the dumb quoting used by many users of Microsoft products ( W Y f gives you full deuglify. See W Y C-h or have a look at the menus for other deuglifications). Outlook deuglify is only available since Gnus 5.10.0.

4.9.

Is there a way to automatically ignore posts by specific authors or with specific words in the subject? And can I highlight more interesting ones in some way?

You want Scoring. Scoring means, that you define rules which assign each message an integer value. Depending on the value the message is highlighted in summary buffer (if it's high, say +2000) or automatically marked read (if the value is low, say -800) or some other action happens.

There are basically three ways of setting up rules which assign the scoring-value to messages. The first and easiest way is to set up rules based on the article you are just reading. Say you're reading a message by a guy who always writes nonsense and you want to ignore his messages in the future. Hit L, to set up a rule which lowers the score. Now Gnus asks you which the criteria for lowering the Score shall be. Hit ? twice to see all possibilities, we want a which means the author (the from header). Now Gnus wants to know which kind of matching we want. Hit either e for an exact match or s for substring-match and delete afterwards everything but the name to score down all authors with the given name no matter which email address is used. Now you need to tell Gnus when to apply the rule and how long it should last, hit e.g. p to apply the rule now and let it last forever. If you want to raise the score instead of lowering it say I instead of L.

You can also set up rules by hand. To do this say V f in summary buffer. Then you are asked for the name of the score file, it's name.of.group.SCORE for rules valid in only one group or all.Score for rules valid in all groups. See the Gnus manual for the exact syntax, basically it's one big list whose elements are lists again. the first element of those lists is the header to score on, then one more list with what to match, which score to assign, when to expire the rule and how to do the matching. If you find me very interesting, you could e.g. add the following to your all.Score:

(("references" ("hschmi22.userfqdn.rz-online.de" 500 nil s))
 ("message-id" ("hschmi22.userfqdn.rz-online.de" 999 nil s)))
	    

This would add 999 to the score of messages written by me and 500 to the score of messages which are a (possibly indirect) answer to a message written by me. Of course nobody with a sane mind would do this :-)

The third alternative is adaptive scoring. This means Gnus watches you and tries to find out what you find interesting and what annoying and sets up rules which reflect this. Adaptive scoring can be a huge help when reading high traffic groups. If you want to activate adaptive scoring say

(setq gnus-use-adaptive-scoring t)
	    

in ~/.gnus.

4.10.

How can I disable threading in some (e.g. mail-) groups, or set other variables specific for some groups?

While in group buffer move point over the group and hit G c, this opens a buffer where you can set options for the group. At the bottom of the buffer you'll find an item that allows you to set variables locally for the group. To disable threading enter gnus-show-threads as name of variable and nil as value. Hit button done at the top of the buffer when you're ready.

4.11.

Can I highlight messages written by me and follow-ups to those?

Stop those "Can I ..." questions, the answer is always yes in Gnus Country :-). It's a three step process: First we make faces (specifications of how summary-line shall look like) for those postings, then we'll give them some special score and finally we'll tell Gnus to use the new faces. You can find detailed instructions on how to do it on my.gnus.org

4.12.

The number of total messages in a group which Gnus displays in group buffer is by far to high, especially in mail groups. Is this a bug?

No, that's a matter of design of Gnus, fixing this would mean reimplementation of major parts of Gnus' back ends. Gnus thinks "highest-article-number - lowest-article-number = total-number-of-articles". This works OK for Usenet groups, but if you delete and move many messages in mail groups, this fails. To cure the symptom, enter the group via C-u RET (this makes Gnus get all messages), then hit M P b to mark all messages and then say B m name.of.group to move all messages to the group they have been in before, they get new message numbers in this process and the count is right again (until you delete and move your mail to other groups again).

4.13.

I don't like the layout of summary and article buffer, how to change it? Perhaps even a three pane display?

You can control the windows configuration by calling the function gnus-add-configuration. The syntax is a bit complicated but explained very well in the manual node "Window Layout". Some popular examples:

Instead 25% summary 75% article buffer 35% summary and 65% article (the 1.0 for article means "take the remaining space"):

(gnus-add-configuration '(article (vertical 1.0 (summary .35 point) (article 1.0))))
	    

A three pane layout, Group buffer on the left, summary buffer top-right, article buffer bottom-right:

(gnus-add-configuration
 '(article
   (horizontal 1.0
	       (vertical 25
			 (group 1.0))
	       (vertical 1.0
			 (summary 0.25 point)
			 (article 1.0)))))
(gnus-add-configuration
 '(summary
   (horizontal 1.0
	       (vertical 25
			 (group 1.0))
	       (vertical 1.0
			 (summary 1.0 point)))))	      
	    

4.14.

I don't like the way the Summary buffer looks, how to tweak it?

You've got to play around with the variable gnus-summary-line-format. It's value is a string of symbols which stand for things like author, date, subject etc. A list of the available specifiers can be found in the manual node "Summary Buffer Lines" and the often forgotten node "Formatting Variables" and it's sub-nodes. There you'll find useful things like positioning the cursor and tabulators which allow you a summary in table form, but sadly hard tabulators are broken in 5.8.8.

Since 5.10.0, Gnus offers you some very nice new specifiers, e.g. %B which draws a thread-tree and %&user-date which gives you a date where the details are dependent of the articles age. Here's an example which uses both:

(setq gnus-summary-line-format ":%U%R %B %s %-60=|%4L |%-20,20f |%&user-date; \n")
	    

resulting in:

:O     Re: [Richard Stallman] rfc2047.el          |  13 |Lars Magne Ingebrigt |Sat 23:06
:O     Re: Revival of the ding-patches list       |  13 |Lars Magne Ingebrigt |Sat 23:12
:R  >  Re: Find correct list of articles for a gro|  25 |Lars Magne Ingebrigt |Sat 23:16
:O  \->  ...                                      |  21 |Kai Grossjohann      | 0:01
:R  >  Re: Cry for help: deuglify.el - moving stuf|  28 |Lars Magne Ingebrigt |Sat 23:34
:O  \->  ...                                      | 115 |Raymond Scholz       | 1:24
:O    \->  ...                                    |  19 |Lars Magne Ingebrigt |15:33
:O     Slow mailing list                          |  13 |Lars Magne Ingebrigt |Sat 23:49
:O     Re: `@' mark not documented                |  13 |Lars Magne Ingebrigt |Sat 23:50
:R  >  Re: Gnus still doesn't count messages prope|  23 |Lars Magne Ingebrigt |Sat 23:57
:O  \->  ...                                      |  18 |Kai Grossjohann      | 0:35
:O    \->  ...                                    |  13 |Lars Magne Ingebrigt | 0:56
	    

4.15.

How to split incoming mails in several groups?

Gnus offers two possibilities for splitting mail, the easy nnmail-split-methods and the more powerful Fancy Mail Splitting. I'll only talk about the first one, refer to the manual, node "Fancy Mail Splitting" for the latter.

The value of nnmail-split-methods is a list, each element is a list which stands for a splitting rule. Each rule has the form "group where matching articles should go to", "regular expression which has to be matched", the first rule which matches wins. The last rule must always be a general rule (regular expression .*) which denotes where articles should go which don't match any other rule. If the folder doesn't exist yet, it will be created as soon as an article lands there. By default the mail will be send to all groups whose rules match. If you don't want that (you probably don't want), say

(setq nnmail-crosspost nil)
	    

in ~/.gnus.

An example might be better than thousand words, so here's my nnmail-split-methods. Note that I send duplicates in a special group and that the default group is spam, since I filter all mails out which are from some list I'm subscribed to or which are addressed directly to me before. Those rules kill about 80% of the Spam which reaches me (Email addresses are changed to prevent spammers from using them):

(setq nnmail-split-methods
  '(("duplicates" "^Gnus-Warning:.*duplicate")
    ("XEmacs-NT" "^\\(To:\\|CC:\\).*localpart@xemacs.bla.*")
    ("Gnus-Tut" "^\\(To:\\|CC:\\).*localpart@socha.bla.*")
    ("tcsh" "^\\(To:\\|CC:\\).*localpart@mx.gw.bla.*")
    ("BAfH" "^\\(To:\\|CC:\\).*localpart@.*uni-muenchen.bla.*")
    ("Hamster-src" "^\\(CC:\\|To:\\).*hamster-sourcen@yahoogroups.\\(de\\|com\\).*")
    ("Tagesschau" "^From: tagesschau <localpart@www.tagesschau.bla>$")
    ("Replies" "^\\(CC:\\|To:\\).*localpart@Frank-Schmitt.bla.*")
    ("EK" "^From:.*\\(localpart@privateprovider.bla\\|localpart@workplace.bla\\).*")
    ("Spam" "^Content-Type:.*\\(ks_c_5601-1987\\|EUC-KR\\|big5\\|iso-2022-jp\\).*")
    ("Spam" "^Subject:.*\\(This really work\\|XINGA\\|ADV:\\|XXX\\|adult\\|sex\\).*")
    ("Spam" "^Subject:.*\\(\=\?ks_c_5601-1987\?\\|\=\?euc-kr\?\\|\=\?big5\?\\).*")
    ("Spam" "^X-Mailer:\\(.*BulkMailer.*\\|.*MIME::Lite.*\\|\\)")
    ("Spam" "^X-Mailer:\\(.*CyberCreek Avalanche\\|.*http\:\/\/GetResponse\.com\\)")
    ("Spam" "^From:.*\\(verizon\.net\\|prontomail\.com\\|money\\|ConsumerDirect\\).*")
    ("Spam" "^Delivered-To: GMX delivery to spamtrap@gmx.bla$")
    ("Spam" "^Received: from link2buy.com")
    ("Spam" "^CC: .*azzrael@t-online.bla")
    ("Spam" "^X-Mailer-Version: 1.50 BETA")
    ("Uni" "^\\(CC:\\|To:\\).*localpart@uni-koblenz.bla.*")
    ("Inbox" "^\\(CC:\\|To:\\).*\\(my\ name\\|address@one.bla\\|adress@two.bla\\)")
    ("Spam" "")))
	      

5. Composing messages

5.1. What are the basic commands I need to know for sending mail and postings?
5.2. How to enable automatic word-wrap when composing messages?
5.3. How to set stuff like From, Organization, Reply-To, signature...?
5.4. Can I set things like From, Signature etc group based on the group I post too?
5.5. Is there a spell-checker? Perhaps even on-the-fly spell-checking?
5.6. Can I set the dictionary based on the group I'm posting to?
5.7. Is there some kind of address-book, so I needn't remember all those email addresses?
5.8. Sometimes I see little images at the top of article buffer. What's that and how can I send one with my postings, too?
5.9. Sometimes I accidentally hit r instead of f in newsgroups. Can Gnus warn me, when I'm replying by mail in newsgroups?
5.10. How to tell Gnus not to generate a sender header?
5.11. I want Gnus to locally store copies of my send mail and news, how to do it?
5.12. People tell me my Message-IDs are not correct, why aren't they and how to fix it?
5.1.

What are the basic commands I need to know for sending mail and postings?

To start composing a new mail hit m either in Group or Summary buffer, for a posting, it's either a in Group buffer and filling the Newsgroups header manually or a in the Summary buffer of the group where the posting shall be send to. Replying by mail is r if you don't want to cite the author, or import the cited text manually and R to cite the text of the original message. For a follow up to a newsgroup, it's f and F (analogously to r and R).

Enter new headers above the line saying "--text follows this line--", enter the text below the line. When ready hit C-c C-c, to send the message, if you want to finish it later hit C-c C-d to save it in the drafts group, where you can start editing it again by saying D e.

5.2.

How to enable automatic word-wrap when composing messages?

Say

(add-hook 'message-mode-hook
      (lambda ()
           (setq fill-column 72)
           (turn-on-auto-fill)))
	    

in ~/.gnus. You can reformat a paragraph by hitting M-q (as usual)

5.3.

How to set stuff like From, Organization, Reply-To, signature...?

There are other ways, but you should use posting styles for this. (See below why). This example should make the syntax clear:

(setq gnus-posting-styles
  '((".*"
     (name "Frank Schmitt")
     (address "me@there.bla")
     (organization "Hamme net, kren mer och nimmi")
     (signature-file "~/.signature")
     ("X-SampleHeader" "foobar")
     (eval (setq some-variable "Foo bar")))))
	    

The ".*" means that this settings are the default ones (see below), valid values for the first element of the following lists are signature, signature-file, organization, address, name or body. The attribute name can also be a string. In that case, this will be used as a header name, and the value will be inserted in the headers of the article; if the value is `nil', the header name will be removed. You can also say (eval (foo bar)), then the function foo will be evaluated with argument bar and the result will be thrown away.

5.4.

Can I set things like From, Signature etc group based on the group I post too?

That's the strength of posting styles. Before, we used ".*" to set the default for all groups. You can use a regexp like "^gmane" and the following settings are only applied to postings you send to the gmane hierarchy, use ".*binaries" instead and they will be applied to postings send to groups containing the string binaries in their name etc.

You can instead of specifying a regexp specify a function which is evaluated, only if it returns true, the corresponding settings take effect. Two interesting candidates for this are message-news-p which returns t if the current Group is a newsgroup and the corresponding message-mail-p.

Note that all forms that match are applied, that means in the example below, when I post to gmane.mail.spam.spamassassin.general, the settings under ".*" are applied and the settings under message-news-p and those under "^gmane" and those under "^gmane\\.mail\\.spam\\.spamassassin\\.general$". Because of this put general settings at the top and specific ones at the bottom.

(setq gnus-posting-styles
  '((".*"  ;;default
     (name "Frank Schmitt")
     (organization "Hamme net, kren mer och nimmi")
     (signature-file "~/.signature")    )
    ((message-news-p)  ;;Usenet news?
     (address "mySpamTrap@Frank-Schmitt.bla")
     ("Reply-To" "hereRealRepliesOnlyPlease@Frank-Schmitt.bla")    )
    ((message-mail-p)  ;;mail?
     (address "usedForMails@Frank-Schmitt.bla")    )
    ("^gmane" ;;this is mail, too in fact
     (address "usedForMails@Frank-Schmitt.net")
     ("Reply-To" nil)    )
    ("^gmane.mail.spam.spamassassin.general$"
     (eval (setq mail-envelope-from "Azzrael@rz-online.de"))
     (address "Azzrael@rz-online.de")) ))
	    

5.5.

Is there a spell-checker? Perhaps even on-the-fly spell-checking?

You can use ispell.el to spell-check stuff in Emacs. So the first thing to do is to make sure that you've got either ispell or aspell installed and in your Path. Then you need ispell.el and for on-the-fly spell-checking flyspell.el. Ispell.el is shipped with Gnus Emacs and available through the Emacs package system, flyspell.el is shipped with Emacs and part of XEmacs text-modes package which is available through the package system, so there should be no need to install them manually.

Ispell.el assumes you use ispell, if you choose aspell say

(setq ispell-program-name "aspell")

in your Emacs configuration file.

If you want your outgoing messages to be spell-checked, say

(add-hook 'message-send-hook 'ispell-message)

In your ~/.gnus, if you prefer on-the-fly spell-checking say

(add-hook 'message-mode-hook (lambda () (flyspell-mode 1)))

5.6.

Can I set the dictionary based on the group I'm posting to?

Yes, say something like

(add-hook 'gnus-select-group-hook
          (lambda ()
            (cond
             ((string-match
               "^de\\." (gnus-group-real-name gnus-newsgroup-name))
              (ispell-change-dictionary "deutsch8"))
             (t
              (ispell-change-dictionary "english")))))
	    

in ~/.gnus. Change "^de\\." and "deutsch8" to something that suits your needs.

5.7.

Is there some kind of address-book, so I needn't remember all those email addresses?

There's an very basic solution for this, mail aliases. You can store your mail addresses in a ~/.mailrc file using a simple alias syntax:

alias al	"Al <al@english-heritage.bla>"
            

Then typing your alias (followed by a space or punctuation character) on a To: or Cc: line in the message buffer will cause Gnus to insert the full address for you. See the node "Mail Aliases" in Message (not Gnus) manual for details.

However, what you really want is the Insidious Big Brother Database bbdb. Get it through the XEmacs package system or from bbdb's homepage. Now place the following in ~/.gnus, to activate bbdb for Gnus:

(require 'bbdb)
(bbdb-initialize 'gnus 'message)
	    

Now you probably want some general bbdb configuration, place them in ~/.emacs:

(require 'bbdb)
;;If you don't live in Northern America, you should disable the 
;;syntax check for telephone numbers by saying
(setq bbdb-north-american-phone-numbers-p nil)
;;Tell bbdb about your email address:
(setq bbdb-user-mail-names
      (regexp-opt '("Your.Email@here.bla"
                    "Your.other@mail.there.bla")))
;;cycling while completing email addresses
(setq bbdb-complete-name-allow-cycling t)
;;No popup-buffers
(setq bbdb-use-pop-up nil)
	    

Now you should be ready to go. Say M-x bbdb RET RET to open a bbdb buffer showing all entries. Say c to create a new entry, b to search your BBDB and C-o to add a new field to an entry. If you want to add a sender to the BBDB you can also just hit `:' on the posting in the summary buffer and you are done. When you now compose a new mail, hit TAB to cycle through know recipients.

5.8.

Sometimes I see little images at the top of article buffer. What's that and how can I send one with my postings, too?

Those images are called X-Faces. They are 48*48 pixel b/w pictures, encoded in a header line. If you want to include one in your posts, you've got to convert some image to a X-Face. So fire up some image manipulation program (say Gimp), open the image you want to include, cut out the relevant part, reduce color depth to 1 bit, resize to 48*48 and save as bitmap. Now you should get the compface package from this site. and create the actual X-face by saying

cat file.xbm | xbm2ikon |compface > file.face
cat ./file.face | sed 's/\\/\\\\/g' | sed 's/\"/\\\"/g' > ./file.face.quoted
	    

if you can't use compface, there's an online X-face converter at http://www.dairiki.org/xface/. If you use MS Windows, you could also use the WinFace program from http://www.xs4all.nl/~walterln/winface/. Now you only have to tell Gnus to include the X-face in your postings by saying

(setq message-default-headers
        (with-temp-buffer
          (insert "X-Face: ")
          (insert-file-contents "~/.xemacs/xface")
          (buffer-string)))
	    

in ~/.gnus.

5.9.

Sometimes I accidentally hit r instead of f in newsgroups. Can Gnus warn me, when I'm replying by mail in newsgroups?

Put this in ~/.gnus:

(setq gnus-confirm-mail-reply-to-news t)
	    

if you already use Gnus 5.10.0, if you still use 5.8.8 or 5.9 try this instead:

(defadvice gnus-summary-reply (around reply-in-news activate)
       (interactive)
        (when (or (not (gnus-news-group-p gnus-newsgroup-name))
                  (y-or-n-p "Really reply? "))
         ad-do-it))
	    

5.10.

How to tell Gnus not to generate a sender header?

Since 5.10.0 Gnus doesn't generate a sender header by default. For older Gnus' try this in ~/.gnus:

(eval-after-load "message"
      '(add-to-list 'message-syntax-checks '(sender . disabled)))
	    

5.11.

I want Gnus to locally store copies of my send mail and news, how to do it?

You must set the variable gnus-message-archive-group to do this. You can set it to a string giving the name of the group where the copies shall go or like in the example below use a function which is evaluated and which returns the group to use.

(setq gnus-message-archive-group
	'((if (message-news-p)
	      "nnml:Send-News"
	    "nnml:Send-Mail")))
	    

5.12.

People tell me my Message-IDs are not correct, why aren't they and how to fix it?

The message-ID is an unique identifier for messages you send. To make it unique, Gnus need to know which machine name to put after the "@". If the name of the machine where Gnus is running isn't suitable (it probably isn't at most private machines) you can tell Gnus what to use by saying:

(setq message-user-fqdn "yourmachine.yourdomain.tld")
	      

in ~/.gnus. If you use Gnus 5.9 or ealier, you can use this instead:

(eval-after-load "message"
  '(let (myfqdn "yourmachine.yourdomain.tld");; <-- Edit this!
     (if (boundp 'message-user-fqdn)
	 (setq message-user-fqdn fqdn)
       (gnus-message 1 "Redefining `message-make-fqdn'.")
       (defun message-make-fqdn ()
	 "Return user's fully qualified domain name."
	 fqdn))))
	      

If you have no idea what to insert for "yourmachine.yourdomain.tld", you've got several choices. You can either ask your provider if he allows you to use something like yourUserName.userfqdn.provider.net, or you can use somethingUnique.yourdomain.tld if you own the domain yourdomain.tld, or you can register at a service which gives private users a FQDN for free, e.g. http://www.stura.tu-freiberg.de/~dlx/addfqdn.html. (Sorry but this website is in German, if you know of an English one offering the same, drop me a note).

Finally you can tell Gnus not to generate a Message-ID for News at all (and letting the server do the job) by saying

(setq message-required-news-headers
  (remove' Message-ID message-required-news-headers))
	      

you can also tell Gnus not to generate Message-IDs for mail by saying

(setq message-required-mail-headers
  (remove' Message-ID message-required-mail-headers))
	      

, however some mail servers don't generate proper Message-IDs, too, so test if your Mail Server behaves correctly by sending yourself a Mail and looking at the Message-ID.

6. Old messages

6.1. How to import my old mail into Gnus?
6.2. How to archive interesting messages?
6.3. How to search for a specific message?
6.4. How to get rid of old unwanted mail?
6.5. I want that all read messages are expired (at least in some groups). How to do it?
6.6. I don't want expiration to delete my mails but to move them to another group.
6.1.

How to import my old mail into Gnus?

The easiest way is to tell your old mail program to export the messages in mbox format. Most Unix mailers are able to do this, if you come from the MS Windows world, you may find tools at http://mbx2mbox.sourceforge.net/.

Now you've got to import this mbox file into Gnus. To do this, create a nndoc group based on the mbox file by saying G f /path/file.mbox RET in Group buffer. You now have read-only access to your mail. If you want to import the messages to your normal Gnus mail groups hierarchy, enter the nndoc group you've just created by saying C-u RET (thus making sure all messages are retrieved), mark all messages by saying M P b and either copy them to the desired group by saying B c name.of.group RET or send them through nnmail-split-methods (respool them) by saying B r.

6.2.

How to archive interesting messages?

If you stumble across an interesting message, say in gnu.emacs.gnus and want to archive it there are several solutions. The first and easiest is to save it to a file by saying O f. However, wouldn't it be much more convenient to have more direct access to the archived message from Gnus? If you say yes, put this snippet by Frank Haun <pille3003@fhaun.de> in ~/.gnus:

(defun my-archive-article (&optional n)
  "Copies one or more article(s) to a corresponding `nnml:' group, e.g.
`gnus.ding' goes to `nnml:1.gnus.ding'. And `nnml:List-gnus.ding' goes
to `nnml:1.List-gnus-ding'.

Use process marks or mark a region in the summary buffer to archive
more then one article."
  (interactive "P")
  (let ((archive-name
         (format
          "nnml:1.%s"
          (if (featurep 'xemacs)
              (replace-in-string gnus-newsgroup-name "^.*:" "")
            (replace-regexp-in-string "^.*:" "" gnus-newsgroup-name)))))
    (gnus-summary-copy-article n archive-name)))
	      

You can now say M-x my-archive-article in summary buffer to archive the article under the cursor in a nnml group. (Change nnml to your preferred back end)

Of course you can also make sure the cache is enabled by saying

(setq gnus-use-cache t)
	      

then you only have to set either the tick or the dormant mark for articles you want to keep, setting the read mark will remove them from cache.

6.3.

How to search for a specific message?

There are several ways for this, too. For a posting from a Usenet group the easiest solution is probably to ask groups.google.com, if you found the posting there, tell Google to display the raw message, look for the message-id, and say M-^ the@message.id RET in a summary buffer. Since Gnus 5.10.0 there's also a Gnus interface for groups.google.com which you can call with G W) in group buffer.

Another idea which works for both mail and news groups is to enter the group where the message you are searching is and use the standard Emacs search C-s, it's smart enough to look at articles in collapsed threads, too. If you want to search bodies, too try M-s instead. Further on there are the gnus-summary-limit-to-foo functions, which can help you, too.

Of course you can also use grep to search through your local mail, but this is both slow for big archives and inconvenient since you are not displaying the found mail in Gnus. Here comes nnir into action. Nnir is a front end to search engines like swish-e or swish++ and others. You index your mail with one of those search engines and with the help of nnir you can search trough the indexed mail and generate a temporary group with all messages which met your search criteria. If this sound cool to you get nnir.el from ftp://ls6-ftp.cs.uni-dortmund.de/pub/src/emacs/ or ftp://ftp.is.informatik.uni-duisburg.de/pub/src/emacs/. Instructions on how to use it are at the top of the file.

6.4.

How to get rid of old unwanted mail?

You can of course just mark the mail you don't need anymore by saying # with point over the mail and then say B DEL to get rid of them forever. You could also instead of actually deleting them, send them to a junk-group by saying B m nnml:trash-bin which you clear from time to time, but both are not the intended way in Gnus.

In Gnus, we let mail expire like news expires on a news server. That means you tell Gnus the message is expirable (you tell Gnus "I don't need this mail anymore") by saying E with point over the mail in summary buffer. Now when you leave the group, Gnus looks at all messages which you marked as expirable before and if they are old enough (default is older than a week) they are deleted.

6.5.

I want that all read messages are expired (at least in some groups). How to do it?

If you want all read messages to be expired (e.g. in mailing lists where there's an online archive), you've got two choices: auto-expire and total-expire. Auto-expire means, that every article which has no marks set and is selected for reading is marked as expirable, Gnus hits E for you every time you read a message. Total-expire follows a slightly different approach, here all article where the read mark is set are expirable.

To activate auto-expire, include auto-expire in the Group parameters for the group. (Hit G c in summary buffer with point over the group to change group parameters). For total-expire add total-expire to the group-parameters.

Which method you choose is merely a matter of taste: Auto-expire is faster, but it doesn't play together with Adaptive Scoring, so if you want to use this feature, you should use total-expire.

If you want a message to be excluded from expiration in a group where total or auto expire is active, set either tick (hit u) or dormant mark (hit u), when you use auto-expire, you can also set the read mark (hit d).

6.6.

I don't want expiration to delete my mails but to move them to another group.

Say something like this in ~/.gnus:

(setq nnmail-expiry-target "nnml:expired")
	      

(If you want to change the value of nnmail-expiry-target on a per group basis see the question "How can I disable threading in some (e.g. mail-) groups, or set other variables specific for some groups?")

7. Gnus in a dial-up environment

7.1. I don't have a permanent connection to the net, how can I minimize the time I've got to be connected?
7.2. So what was this thing about the Agent?
7.3. I want to store article bodies on disk, too. How to do it?
7.4. How to tell Gnus not to try to send mails / postings while I'm offline?
7.1.

I don't have a permanent connection to the net, how can I minimize the time I've got to be connected?

You've got basically two options: Either you use the Gnus Agent (see below) for this, or you can install programs which fetch your news and mail to your local disk and Gnus reads the stuff from your local machine.

If you want to follow the second approach, you need a program which fetches news and offers them to Gnus, a program which does the same for mail and a program which receives the mail you write from Gnus and sends them when you're online.

Let's talk about Unix systems first: For the news part, the easiest solution is a small nntp server like Leafnode or sn, of course you can also install a full featured news server like inn. Then you want to fetch your Mail, popular choices are fetchmail and getmail. You should tell those to write the mail to your disk and Gnus to read it from there. Last but not least the mail sending part: This can be done with every MTA like sendmail, postfix, exim or qmail.

On windows boxes I'd vote for Hamster, it's a small freeware, open-source program which fetches your mail and news from remote servers and offers them to Gnus (or any other mail and/or news reader) via nntp respectively POP3 or IMAP. It also includes a smtp server for receiving mails from Gnus.

7.2.

So what was this thing about the Agent?

The Gnus agent is part of Gnus, it allows you to fetch mail and news and store them on disk for reading them later when you're offline. It kind of mimics offline newsreaders like e.g. Forte Agent. If you want to use the Agent place the following in ~/.gnus if you are still using 5.8.8 or 5.9 (it's the default since 5.10.0):

(setq gnus-agent t)
	      

Now you've got to select the servers whose groups can be stored locally. To do this, open the server buffer (that is press ^ while in the group buffer). Now select a server by moving point to the line naming that server. Finally, agentize the server by typing J a. If you make a mistake, or change your mind, you can undo this action by typing J r. When you're done, type 'q' to return to the group buffer. Now the next time you enter a group on a agentized server, the headers will be stored on disk and read from there the next time you enter the group.

7.3.

I want to store article bodies on disk, too. How to do it?

You can tell the agent to automatically fetch the bodies of articles which fulfill certain predicates, this is done in a special buffer which can be reached by saying J c in group buffer. Please refer to the documentation for information which predicates are possible and how exactly to do it.

Further on you can tell the agent manually which articles to store on disk. There are two ways to do this: Number one: In the summary buffer, process mark a set of articles that shall be stored in the agent by saying # with point over the article and then type J s. The other possibility is to set, again in the summary buffer, downloadable (%) marks for the articles you want by typing @ with point over the article and then typing J u. What's the difference? Well, process marks are erased as soon as you exit the summary buffer while downloadable marks are permanent. You can actually set downloadable marks in several groups then use fetch session ('J s' in the GROUP buffer) to fetch all of those articles. The only downside is that fetch session also fetches all of the headers for every selected group on an agentized server. Depending on the volume of headers, the initial fetch session could take hours.

7.4.

How to tell Gnus not to try to send mails / postings while I'm offline?

All you've got to do is to tell Gnus when you are online (plugged) and when you are offline (unplugged), the rest works automatically. You can toggle plugged/unplugged state by saying J j in group buffer. To start Gnus unplugged say M-x gnus-unplugged instead of M-x gnus. Note that for this to work, the agent must be active.

8. Getting help

8.1. How to find information and help inside Emacs?
8.2. I can't find anything in the Gnus manual about X (e.g. attachments, PGP, MIME...), is it not documented?
8.3. Which websites should I know?
8.4. Which mailing lists and newsgroups are there?
8.5. Where to report bugs?
8.6. I need real-time help, where to find it?
8.1.

How to find information and help inside Emacs?

The first stop should be the Gnus manual (Say C-h i d m Gnus RET to start the Gnus manual, then walk through the menus or do a full-text search with s). Then there are the general Emacs help commands starting with C-h, type C-h ? ? to get a list of all available help commands and their meaning. Finally M-x apropos-command lets you search through all available functions and M-x apropos searches the bound variables.

8.2.

I can't find anything in the Gnus manual about X (e.g. attachments, PGP, MIME...), is it not documented?

There's not only the Gnus manual but also the manuals for message, emacs-mime, sieve and pgg. Those packages are distributed with Gnus and used by Gnus but aren't really part of core Gnus, so they are documented in different info files, you should have a look in those manuals, too.

8.3.

Which websites should I know?

The two most important ones are the official Gnus website. and it's sister site my.gnus.org (MGO), hosting an archive of lisp snippets, howtos, a (not really finished) tutorial and this FAQ.

Tell me about other sites which are interesting.

8.4.

Which mailing lists and newsgroups are there?

There's the newsgroup gnu.emacs.gnus (pull it from e.g. news.gnus.org) which deals with general questions and the ding mailing list (ding@gnus.org) dealing with development of Gnus. You can read the ding list via NNTP, too under the name gnus.ding from news.gnus.org.

If you want to stay in the big8, news.software.newssreaders is also read by some Gnus users (but chances for qualified help are much better in the above groups) and if you speak German, there's de.comm.software.gnus.

8.5.

Where to report bugs?

Say M-x gnus-bug, this will start a message to the gnus bug mailing list including information about your environment which make it easier to help you.

8.6.

I need real-time help, where to find it?

Point your IRC client to irc.my.gnus.org channel #mygnus. Don't be afraid if people there speak German, they are willing and capable of switching to English when people from outside Germany enter.

9. Tuning Gnus

9.1. Starting Gnus is really slow, how to speed it up?
9.2. How to speed up the process of entering a group?
9.3. Sending mail becomes slower and slower, what's up?
9.1.

Starting Gnus is really slow, how to speed it up?

The reason for this could be the way Gnus reads it's active file, see the node "The Active File" in the Gnus manual for things you might try to speed the process up. An other idea would be to byte compile your ~/.gnus (say M-x byte-compile-file RET ~/.gnus RET to do it). Finally, if you have require statements in your .gnus, you could replace them with eval-after-load, which loads the stuff not at startup time, but when it's needed. Say you've got this in your ~/.gnus:

(require 'message)
(add-to-list 'message-syntax-checks '(sender . disabled))
	      

then as soon as you start Gnus, message.el is loaded. If you replace it with

(eval-after-load "message"
      '(add-to-list 'message-syntax-checks '(sender . disabled)))
	      

it's loaded when it's needed.

9.2.

How to speed up the process of entering a group?

A speed killer is setting the variable gnus-fetch-old-headers to anything different from nil, so don't do this if speed is an issue. To speed up building of summary say

(gnus-compile)
	      

at the bottom of your ~/.gnus, this will make gnus byte-compile things like gnus-summary-line-format. then you could increase the value of gc-cons-threshold by saying something like

(setq gc-cons-threshold 3500000)
	      

in ~/.emacs. If you don't care about width of CJK characters or use Gnus 5.10.0 or younger together with a recent GNU Emacs, you should say

(setq gnus-use-correct-string-widths nil) 
	      

in ~/.gnus (thanks to Jesper harder for the last two suggestions). Finally if you are still using 5.8.8 or 5.9 and experience speed problems with summary buffer generation, you definitely should update to 5.10.0 since there quite some work on improving it has been done.

9.3.

Sending mail becomes slower and slower, what's up?

The reason could be that you told Gnus to archive the messages you wrote by setting gnus-message-archive-group. Try to use a nnml group instead of an archive group, this should bring you back to normal speed.

Glossary

~/.gnus

When the term ~/.gnus is used it just means your Gnus configuration file. You might as well call it ~/.gnus.el or specify another name.

Back End

In Gnus terminology a back end is a virtual server, a layer between core Gnus and the real NNTP-, POP3-, IMAP- or whatever-server which offers Gnus a standardized interface to functions like "get message", "get Headers" etc.

Emacs

When the term Emacs is used in this FAQ, it means either GNU Emacs or XEmacs.

Message

In this FAQ message means a either a mail or a posting to a Usenet Newsgroup or to some other fancy back end, no matter of which kind it is.

MUA

MUA is an acronym for Mail User Agent, it's the program you use to read and write e-mails.

NUA

NUA is an acronym for News User Agent, it's the program you use to read and write Usenet news.