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General Usage Questions

3.1 Alpine seems to ignore some of my command keystrokes - why?

If some control characters don't work in Alpine (or Pico), it is probably because the communication or operating system software you are using is intercepting those characters before they get to Alpine. Some that are more likely to be intercepted include ^C, ^J, ^O, ^^, and ^_. If you are unable to reconfigure your communication software to correct this, a work-around is to press the ESCAPE key twice followed by the desired control key. For example, ^C would be simulated by pressing "ESC ESC C" and "^^" would be "ESC ESC ^".

3.2 What are these .pine-debug files for?

Q&A submitted by: Timothy J. Luoma <>

(From the PINE source code:)

The files are useful for figuring out what a user did when he complains that something went wrong. It's important to keep a bunch around, usually 4, so that the debug file in question will still be around when the problem gets investigated. Users tend to go in and out of Alpine a few times and there is one file for each Alpine invocation. The names of the files has remained the same with the change from Pine to Alpine.

3.2.1 Can I delete the .pine-debug files?

Yes, but there's really no need to do so. ALPINE will only keep a certain amount of them around, usually 4. The files are rather small and do no harm.

3.2.2 How do I change the number of .pine-debug files kept or prevent the .pine-debug files from being created?

You can prevent the files from being created by using the -d flag as follows:

   -d n

If n=0, no debug files will be created.

You can change the level of debugging done with numbers 1-9:

   1 - logs only highest level events and errors
   2 - logs events like file writes
   3 - 
   4 - logs each command
   5 - 
   6 - 
   7 - logs details of command execution (7 is highest to run any 
   8 - 
   9 - logs gross details of command execution

3.3 Why does Alpine repeatedly ask for my password after my initial login?

This occurs when Alpine is configured to access remote folders or mailboxes at remote or multiple servers. By default Alpine uses the login used when Alpine first begins.

To clear up the confusion, edit your configuration and add /user=yourusername to every instance of your mail server address.

For example,
would become,

3.4 Why is it that I have to exit and reopen Alpine in order to receive new mail?

Alpine is capable of accessing POP3 mailboxes, but only in a quasi-online mode, unable to preserve message flags (New, Read, Deleted). Furthermore, due to the nature of the POP3 Protocol, Alpine will not see new messages arriving on the POP3 server unless the connection to the server is closed and reopened. This occurs by quitting and restarting Alpine, or by using the "<" command to back up to the folder list screen and then re-open the current folder by typing RETURN.

3.5 How do I do operations on multiple messages?

Or "How do I use Alpine's aggregate operations?"

Aggregate operations give you the ability to select all of the messages in the current folder that match some specified criteria, and then to apply any of Alpine's message operations (i.e. Save, Export, Print, Forward, Reply, TakeAddr, Pipe, Flag, Delete, Undelete) to the entire set of selected messages.

The following commands constitute the "aggregate-command-set":

     "; Select" -  to select a set of messages
     "Z Zoom"   -  to change the Index to show only 
selected messages
     "A Apply"  -  to apply a command (e.g. Save) to 
all selected msgs

Message selection can be based on message numbers (as shown in the Folder Index), dates, status (e.g. New, Answered), or any part of the message text (headers or body). Selected messages are denoted by an "X" in the first column of their FOLDER INDEX entry, unless the show-selected-in-boldface feature has been chosen via the Setup/Config screen.

In addition, the WhereIs command in the FOLDER INDEX screen will have a new "^X Select Matches" sub-command. When you enter a match string at the WhereIs prompt and press ^X instead of RETURN, every message in the folder whose Index listing includes the match string will be selected.

Alpine has built-in help on all of the aggregate operations.

3.6 Does Alpine block messages?

Although Alpine does not actually prevent delivery of mail, it can delete messages before you see them by using filter rules. You will find the Filter option in the Main menu, under [S]etup, [R]ules.

3.7 Can I create directories to store Alpine folders?

Yes, this is possible. From Alpine's Folder List screen, select [A] to add a folder then ^X to create a directory. You can also create a directory at the same time you save a message. For example, at the "SAVE Msg" prompt, type:

This will create a directory named "newDir" and a folder named "misc" within it. Your message will be saved to the "misc" folder. If your server uses "." or any other character to indicate a directory, replace the "/" with that character.

Note: Due to system limitations, some servers do not support this feature.