ARCHIVED: Using Elm, Berkeley mail, or Pine, how do I know if my message has been delivered?

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Note: Pine is not available on any central UITS systems. UITS does not support the use of Pine at Indiana University.

Note: Elm is not available on any UITS systems.

You can send your mail so that you get notification when the message reaches its destination computer. However, you cannot get confirmation that your correspondent has opened or read your message.

Sending in verbose mode (Elm or Berkeley mail)

With Elm or Berkeley mail (but not with Pine), you can have the mailer call sendmail in "verbose" mode. In this mode, sendmail displays a transcript of the communication between your host computer and the remote computer. To do this with Elm, start the program with the command:

  elm -V

With Berkeley mail on some systems, enter:

  Mail -v

On other systems, to get Berkeley mail, you will need to enter:

  mailx -v

A drawback of this method is that it does not provide information about the end destination if it is different from the address (e.g., if the user's mail is forwarded).

Adding a "Return-Receipt-To" header to mail messages (Pine or Elm)

Note: This method is outdated and many mail servers, including most of those at Indiana University, no longer support it.

Another way to confirm that a message has been delivered with Elm or Pine is to add a header to your messages of the form:


Replace with your email address.

Most mail transport agents (including most implementations of Unix sendmail and the MERCURY Novell mail transport system) will honor this header and notify you as soon as the mail has been placed in the remote user's mail spool (usually within a few seconds or minutes).

Adding a header in Pine

To add a "Return-Receipt-To" header in Pine, you will need to define this as a customized header. To define a customized header, press m to get to the Pine Main Menu. Then press s for Setup, and c for Config. You'll see the menu of configuration options. Go down the list until you have selected the "customized-hdrs" option. Press a to Add a header. When prompted for the text of the header, enter:


Replace with your email address. Then press e to Exit the Setup Configuration menu. When prompted to save your changes, press y.

Now every message you send will have this header included. If you want to have the header only on some messages, leave the address portion out when you are defining the header. Then, to have a return receipt for a particular message, press Ctrl-r while the cursor is in the header section of Pine's message composer and fill in your address on the "Return-Receipt-To:" line.

Adding a header in Elm

To have Elm include this header in a particular message, press h to edit the headers of the message after you have exited the text editor you use to compose the message (e.g., Emacs, vi, or Pico). Then press u to add a user-defined header, and enter the Return-Receipt-To header as it is given above.

To have Elm append this header to all outgoing messages automatically, add this header to a file in your ~/.elm directory called elmheaders.

Delivery Status Notifications (DSN) (Pine 4+)

Mail transport agents that support Delivery Status Notifications (DSN) can report whether a message has been delivered, delayed, or rejected. By default, almost all servers tell you when a message is rejected and many also report if its delivery has been delayed. In addition, if both your client and the server support it, you may request the server to inform you when your message has been delivered to the recipient's mail spool.

To do this, if you are using Pine 4.0 or higher, you must activate the delivery status notification features. Press m to get to the Pine Main Menu. Then press s for Setup, and c for Config. You'll see the menu of configuration options. Find "enable-delivery-status-notification", and then press x to activate it. Then press e to exit the Setup Configuration menu. When prompted to save your changes, press y.

Once you have activated this feature, after you press Ctrl-x to send a message, press d to open the DSN submenu. If you press y, your message will be sent with a request to provide notification when it is delivered to the recipient. Not all servers are DSN aware, however.

This is document acgb in the Knowledge Base.
Last modified on 2018-01-18 09:23:17.