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       mairix - index and search mail folders


       mairix  [  -v|--verbose  ]  [  -p|--purge  ] [ -f|--rcfile mairixrc ] [
       -F|--fast-index ]

       mairix [ -v|--verbose ] [ -f|--rcfile mairixrc ] [ -r|--raw-output ]  [
       -x|--excerpt-output  ]  [  -o|--mfolder  mfolder  ]  [ -a|--augment ] [
       -t|--threads ] search-patterns

       mairix [ -h|--help ]

       mairix [ -V|--version ]

       mairix [ -d|--dump ]


       mairix indexes and  searches  a  collection  of  email  messages.   The
       folders  containing  the  messages  for  indexing  are  defined  in the
       configuration file.  The indexing stage produces a database file.   The
       database  file provides rapid access to details of the indexed messages
       during searching operations.  A search normally produces a folder  (so-
       called  mfolder)  containing the matched messages.  However, a raw mode
       (-r) exists which just lists the matched messages instead.

       It can operate with the following folder types

       *      maildir

       *      MH (compatible with the MH folder formats used by xmh, sylpheed,
              nnml (Gnus) and evolution)

       *      mbox  (including  mboxes  that have been compressed with gzip or

       If maildir or MH source folders are used,  and  a  search  outputs  its
       matches  to an mfolder in maildir or MH format, symbolic links are used
       to reference the original messages inside  the  mfolder.   However,  if
       mbox folders are involved, copies of messages are made instead.


       mairix decides whether indexing or searching is required by looking for
       the presence of any search-patterns on the command line.

   Special modes
       -h, --help
              Show usage summary and exit

       -V, --version
              Show program version and exit

              Dump the database’s contents in human-readable form to stdout.

   General options
       -f mairixrc
       --rcfile mairixrc
              Specify an alternative configuration file to use.   The  default
              configuration file is ~/.mairixrc.

       -v, --verbose
              Make the output more verbose

       -Q, --no-integrity-checks
              Normally  mairix  will  do  some internal integrity tests on the
              database.  The -Q option removes these checks, making mairix run
              faster,  but  it will be less likely to detect internal problems
              if any bugs creep in.

              The nochecks directive in the rc file has the same effect.

              mairix locks its database file during any indexing or  searching
              operation to prevent multiple indexing runs intefering with each
              other, or an indexing run interfering  with  search  runs.   The
              --unlock  option removes the lockfile before doing the requested
              indexing or searching operation.  This is a  convenient  way  of
              cleaning  up a stale lockfile if an earlier run crashed for some
              reason or was aborted.

   Indexing options
       -p, --purge
              Cause stale (dead) messages  to  be  purged  from  the  database
              during  an  indexing run.  (Normally, stale messages are left in
              the database because of the additional const of compacting  away
              the storage that they take up.)

       -F, --fast-index
              When processing maildir and MH folders, mairix normally compares
              the mtime and size of each message against the values stored  in
              the  database.   If  they  have  changed,  the  message  will be
              rescanned.  This check requires each message file to be stat’ed.
              For large numbers of messages in these folder types, this can be
              a sizeable overhead.

              This option tells mairix to assume that when a message currently
              on-disc  has  a  name  matching  one already in the database, it
              should assume the message is unchanged.

              A later indexing run without using this option will fix  up  any
              rescans that were missed due to its use.

   Search options
       -a, --augment
              Append  newly matches messages to the current mfolder instead of
              creating the mfolder from scratch.

       -t, --threads
              As well as returning the matched  messages,  also  return  every
              message in the same thread as one of the real matches.

       -r, --raw-output
              Instead  of creating an mfolder containing the matched messages,
              just show their paths on stdout.

       -x, --excerpt-output
              Intead of creating an mfolder containing the  matched  messages,
              display  an  excerpt  from their headers on stdout.  The excerpt
              shows To, Cc, From, Subject and Date.

       -o mfolder
       --mfolder mfolder
              Specify a temporary alternative path for  the  mfolder  to  use,
              overriding the mfolder directive in the rc file.

              mairix will refuse to output search results into any folder that
              appears to be amongst  those  that  are  indexed.   This  is  to
              prevent accidental deletion of emails.

   Search patterns
              Match word in the To: header.

              Match word in the Cc: header.

              Match word in the From: header.

              Match word in the Subject: header.

              Match word in the Message-ID: header.

              Match word in the message body.

              Message  body  is taken to mean any body part of type text/plain
              or text/html.  For text/html, text within meta tags is  ignored.
              In  particular,  the  URLs  inside  <A  HREF="..."> tags are not
              currently  indexed.   Non-text  attachments  are  ignored.    If
              there’s an attachment of type message/rfc822, this is parsed and
              the match is performed  on  this  sub-message  too.   If  a  hit
              occurs, the enclosing message is treated as having a hit.

              Match messages with Date: headers lying in the specific range.

              Match  messages  whose size lies in the specified range.  If the
              low-size argument is omitted it defaults to zero.  If the  high-
              size argument is omitted it defaults to infinite size.

              For  example, to match messages between 10kbytes and 20kbytes in
              size, the following search term can be used:

                   mairix z:10k-20k

               The suffix ’k’ on a number means  multiply  by  1024,  and  the
              suffix ’M’ on a number means multiply by 1024*1024.

              Match  word  occurring  as  the  name  of  an  attachment in the
              message.  Since attachment names are usually long,  this  option
              would usually be used in the substring form.  So

                   mairix n:mairix=

                would  match  all  messages which have attachments whose names
              contain the substring mairix.

              The  attachment  name  is  determined  from  the   name=xxx   or
              filename=xxx   qualifiers  on  the  Content-Type:  and  Content-
              Disposition: headers respectively.

              Match messages with particular  flag  settings.   The  available
              flags are ’s’ meaning seen, ’r’ meaning replied, and ’f’ meaning
              flagged.  The flags are case-insensitive.  A flag letter may  be
              prefixed by a ’-’ to negate its sense.  Thus

                   mairix F:-s d:1w-
               would match any unread message less than a week old, and

                   mairix F:f-r d:-1m

                would  match  any flagged message older than a month which you
              haven’t replied to yet.

              Note that the flag characters  and  their  meanings  agree  with
              those used as the suffix letters on message filenames in maildir

   Searching for a match amongst more than one part of a message
       Multiple body parts may be grouped together, if a match in any of  them
       is sought.  Common examples follow.

              Match word in either the To: or Cc: headers (or both).

              Match word in either the Subject: header or the message body (or

       The a: search pattern is an abbreviation for tcf:; i.e. match the  word
       in  the  To:,  Cc: or From: headers.  ("a" stands for "address" in this

   Match words
       The word argument to the search strings can take various forms.

              Match messages not containing the word.

              This matches if both the words  are  matched  in  the  specified
              message part.

              This matches if either of the words are matched in the specified
              message part.

              Match any word containing substring as a substring

              Match any word containing substring, allowing up to N errors  in
              the  match.   For example, if N is 1, a single error is allowed,
              where an error can be

       *      a missing letter

       *      an extra letter

       *      a different letter.

              Match any word containing substring as  a  substring,  with  the
              requirement  that  substring  occurs  at  the  beginning  of the
              matched word.

   Precedence matters
       The binding order of the constructions is:

       1.     Individual command line  arguments  define  separate  conditions
              which are AND-ed together

       2.     Within  a  single  argument, the letters before the colon define
              which message parts the expression applies to.  If there  is  no
              colon,  the expression applies to all the headers listed earlier
              and the body.

       3.     After the colon, commas delineate separate disjuncts, which  are
              OR-ed together.

       4.     Each   disjunct   may  contain  separate  conjuncts,  which  are
              separated by plus signs.  These conditions are AND-ed  together.

       5.     Each  conjunct  may  start with a tilde to negate it, and may be
              followed by a slash to indicate a  substring  match,  optionally
              followed  by  an  integer to define the maximum number of errors

   Date specification
       This section describes  the  syntax  used  for  specifying  dates  when
       searching using the ‘d:’ option.

       Dates  are  specified  as  a range.  The start and end of the range can
       both be specified.  Alternatively, if  the  start  is  omitted,  it  is
       treated  as  being the beginning of time.  If the end is omitted, it is
       treated as the current time.

       There are 4 basic formats:

              Specify both start and end explicitly

              Specify start, end is the current time

       d:-end Specify end, start is ’a long time ago’ (i.e.  early  enough  to
              include any message).

              Specify  start  and  end implicitly, as the start and end of the
              period given.

       The start and end can be specified  either  absolute  or  relative.   A
       relative  endpoint  is  given  as  a number followed by a single letter
       defining the scaling:

       |letter  |  short for  |  example  |  meaning              |
       |d       |  days       |  3d       |  3 days               |
       |w       |  weeks      |  2w       |  2 weeks (14 days)    |
       |m       |  months     |  5m       |  5 months (150 days)  |
       |y       |  years      |  4y       |  4 years (4*365 days) |

       Months are always treated as 30 days, and years as 365 days,  for  this

       Absolute  times  can  be  specified  in  many  forms.   Some forms have
       different meanings when they define a start date from  that  when  they
       define an end date.  Where a single expression specifies both the start
       and end (i.e. where the argument to d: doesn’t contain a ‘-’), it  will
       usually have different interpretations in the two cases.

       In  the  examples  below,  suppose the current date is Sunday May 18th,
       2003 (when I started to write this material.)

       |Example              |  Start date          |  End date             |  Notes                          |
       |d:20030301-20030425  |  March 1st, 2003     |  25th April, 2003     |                                 |
       |d:030301-030425      |  March 1st, 2003     |  April 25th, 2003     |  century assumed                |
       |d:mar1-apr25         |  March 1st, 2003     |  April 25th, 2003     |                                 |
       |d:Mar1-Apr25         |  March 1st, 2003     |  April 25th, 2003     |  case insensitive               |
       |d:MAR1-APR25         |  March 1st, 2003     |  April 25th, 2003     |  case insensitive               |
       |d:1mar-25apr         |  March 1st, 2003     |  April 25th, 2003     |  date and month in either order |
       |d:2002               |  January 1st, 2002   |  December 31st, 2002  |  whole year                     |
       |d:mar                |  March 1st, 2003     |  March 31st, 2003     |  most recent March              |
       |d:oct                |  October 1st, 2002   |  October 31st, 2002   |  most recent October            |
       |d:21oct-mar          |  October 21st, 2002  |  March 31st, 2003     |  start before end               |
       |d:21apr-mar          |  April 21st, 2002    |  March 31st, 2003     |  start before end               |
       |d:21apr-             |  April 21st, 2003    |  May 18th, 2003       |  end omitted                    |
       |d:-21apr             |  January 1st, 1900   |  April 21st, 2003     |  start omitted                  |
       |d:6w-2w              |  April 6th, 2003     |  May 4th, 2003        |  both dates relative            |
       |d:21apr-1w           |  April 21st, 2003    |  May 11th, 2003       |  one date relative              |
       |d:21apr-2y           |  April 21st, 2001    |  May 11th, 2001       |  start before end               |
       |d:99-11              |  January 1st, 1999   |  May 11th, 2003       | 2 digits are a day of the month |
       |                     |                      |                       | if possible, otherwise a year   |
       |d:99oct-1oct         |  October 1st, 1999   |  October 1st, 2002    | end before now, single digit is |
       |                     |                      |                       | a day of the month              |
       |d:99oct-01oct        |  October 1st, 1999   |  October 31st, 2001   | 2  digits  starting  with  zero |
       |                     |                      |                       | treated as a year               |
       |d:oct99-oct1         |  October 1st, 1999   |  October 1st, 2002    | day and month in either order   |
       |d:oct99-oct01        |  October 1st, 1999   |  October 31st, 2001   | year and month in either order  |

       The principles in the table work as follows.

       ·      When the expression defines a period of more than a day (i.e. if
              a month or year is specified), the earliest day in the period is
              taken  when  the  start date is defined, and the last day in the
              period if the end of the range is being defined.

       ·      The end date is always taken to be  on  or  before  the  current

       ·      The  start date is always taken to be on or before the end date.


       If the match folder does not exist when running in search mode,  it  is
       automatically  created.   For  ’mformat=maildir’  (the  default),  this
       should be all you need to do.  If you use ’mformat=mh’, you may have to
       run  some  commands before your mailer will recognize the folder.  e.g.
       for mutt, you could do

              mkdir -p /home/richard/Mail/mfolder
              touch /home/richard/Mail/mfolder/.mh_sequences

       which seems  to  work.   Alternatively,  within  mutt,  you  could  set
       MBOX_TYPE to in advance.

       If  you use Sylpheed, the best way seems to be to create the new folder
       from within Sylpheed before letting mairix write into it.


       Suppose my email address is <richard@doesnt.exist>.

       Either of the following will match all messages  newer  than  3  months
       from me with the word ’chrony’ in the subject line:

              mairix d:3m- f:richard+doesnt+exist s:chrony
              mairix d:3m- f:richard@doesnt.exist s:chrony

       Suppose  I  don’t  mind a few spurious matches on the address, I want a
       wider date range, and I suspect that some messages I replied  to  might
       have  had  the  subject  keyword  spelt  wrongly  (let’s  allow up to 2

              mairix d:6m- f:richard s:chrony=2


       mairix works exclusively in terms of words.  The index that’s built  in
       indexing  mode contains a table of which words occur in which messages.
       Hence, the search capability is based on finding messages that  contain
       particular  words.  mairix defines a word as any string of alphanumeric
       characters + underscore.  Any whitespace, punctuation, hyphens etc  are
       treated as word boundaries.

       mairix  has  special  handling  for  the  To:,  Cc:  and From: headers.
       Besides the normal word scan, these headers are scanned a second  time,
       where  the  characters  ’@’,  ’-’  and  ’.’  are  also  treated as word
       characters.  This allows most (if not all) email addresses to appear in
       the   database   as   single  words.   So  if  you  have  a  mail  from
       wibble@foobar.zzz, it will match on both these searches

              mairix f:foobar
              mairix f:wibble@foobar.zzz

       It should be clear by now that the searching cannot  be  used  to  find
       messages  matching  general  regular  expressions.  This has never been
       much of a limitation.  Most searches are for particular  keywords  that
       were  in the messages, or details of the recipients, or the approximate

       It’s also worth pointing out that there is  no  ’locality’  information
       stored, so you can’t search for messages that have one words ’close’ to
       some other word.  For every message and every word, there is  a  simple
       yes/no  condition  stored  - whether the message contains the word in a
       particular header or in the  body.   So  far  this  has  proved  to  be
       adequate.   mairix  has  a  similar  feel  to  using an Internet search




       Copyright (C) 2002-2006 Richard P. Curnow <>




       We need a plugin scheme to allow more types of attachment to be scanned
       and indexed.

                                 January 2006