The Open VMS Mail utility is a useful way to send messages and files to other users. In this section we will delve more deeply into the inner workings of MAIL and will explain how to send and read mail messages, how to send messages across different networks, how to set up distribution lists so that you can send mail to several users with a single command, and how to send a facsimile to somebody with a FAX machine.

Your e-mail address is your username. Your Internet address will take the form

Start the Mail utility by typing:

The Mail utility is ready when you get a prompt that looks like:

8.1 summarizes Mail commands.

Mail creates files that index and hold your mail messages. These files include a MAIL.MAI file and files that start with the string MAIL_ and have a file type of .MAI.

Do not edit or delete files created by the Mail utility! If you created a subdirectory for Mail using the set mail_directory command, do not edit or delete the subdirectory.

Table 8.1: Mail Commands

Typing HELP while inside Mail will bring up a list of commands that are understood in Mail. The Mail help facility works much like the standard VMS help. It is also possible to get help about only the Mail topic you are interested in by typing HELP topic.

Reading Mail

If you just press at the MAIL> prompt, then the first of any new messages (or the oldest saved message if you have not received any new mail) will be displayed. This is the same as typing the command READ.

More typically, you can list the messages in your mail folder by typing DIR, and then choose the message you wish to read by typing its message number.

If you wish to save a mail message to a file, you can use the EXTRACT command. To reply to a message, use the REPLY command.

Sending Mail

To send a message to another user, you would use the SEND command. When you type SEND at the MAIL> prompt, the system will prompt you for the username of the person to whom you wish to send a message and the subject of the message. After responding to these prompts you will enter the text of the message, ending with a - . If you change your mind and decide not to send the message, press - . Figure 8.1 shows an example of how to send a mail message.

Figure 8.1: Sending Mail

There are two easier ways to send a long message to another user: invoke an editor inside Mail with the SEND/EDIT command, or use an editor outside of Mail to create a file. To send an existing file to another user, type the file name after the SEND command. For example, if you entered a message in a file called MSG.TYP, you would send it to another user as shown in Figure 8.2.

Figure 8.2: Sending a File

Notice that in this example, the user name is preceded with a node name and two colons. This is how you would send a message across systems using DECnet.

When you're finished reading and sending mail, type EXIT to leave the Mail utility.

Distribution Lists

If you frequently send mail to the same group of users you may find it convenient to use a distribution list. A distribution list is created by typing into a file the usernnames of those users to whom you will send mail; type only one username per line. Distribution lists can also use existing distribution lists. For example, see Figure 8.3.

Figure 8.3: Distribution List for MAIL

To send mail using a distribution list, type @maillist in response to the To: prompt from MAIL, as in Figure 8.4.

Figure 8.4: Sending Mail Using a Distribution List

Institute-Wide Distribution Lists

There are several large distribution lists available for use by anyone at the Institute. You can find the names of the lists available and how to use them by sending mail to the address info. By typing "DLIST" on the subject line, you will get instructions and a list of available distribution lists by return e-mail. You can
also get a copy of the names on a given distribution list by typing the name of the list following the word "DLIST", for example, to get a copy of the distribution list of AURA and ESA science staff, you would use a subject line of "DLIST,aura_esa". The following subject lines can be used when sending messages to info:

To send a mail message to everyone on the distribution list, you would use the "IN%" prefix. The "IN%" prefix directs the message to another piece of software that handles functions such as distribution lists and Internet mail. For example, to send an announcement to the entire aura_esa distribution list, you would use syntax like that shown in the following example:

MAIL> send
To: in%aura_esa
You can also use the distribution lists in conjunction with your own personal distribution lists or individual e-mail addresses. For example, to send to an Institute-wide list, your individual list, and one user, you could use something like the following:

MAIL> send
To: in%aura_esa, @group.dis, in%jsmith

Automatic Replies

On the Science cluster, there is a way to automatically reply to incoming mail messages. Many people use this when they are not at the Institute for extended periods of time, such as observing runs, conferences, or vacations. Read the file listed below to learn how to automatically reply to incoming mail:



If you wish to delete selected messages, use the DELETE command within the MAIL utility. Before deleting messages you should issue a DIR command to see what messages you have and then delete messages by typing DEL n where n is the message number to be deleted (as shown in Figure 8.5). Typing DEL without a message number will delete the current message.

Figure 8.5: Deleting Mail Messages

Once you delete messages, you must use the EXIT command to quit the MAIL facility. If you use a QUIT command or press - , the messages do not get deleted.

VMS keeps your old messages indefinitely so you must delete old messages periodically (using the DELETE command) or else your directory will be filled with obsolete messages wasting time and disk space. The messages are not actually deleted until you exit from Mail or issue a PURGE command. You should occasionally clean up your Mail files by typing COMPRESS. This will create a file called MAIL.OLD that you should then delete.

Sending Mail to Other Networks

You may want to send a message to a user on another network, such as the Internet, BITNET, or NASAMAIL. Sending messages across different networks is possible through gateways. The syntax used at the To: prompt will vary depending on the network, as shown in Table 8.2.

Table 8.2: Address Syntax for Outside Networks

The mail handler for non-DECnet networks resides on the Science Cluster. Message destined for non-DECnet networks that are sent from clusters other than the Science Cluster must be routed through the Science Cluster by placing the prefix "STSCIC::" on each address. For example, if you were on the Development Cluster and wanted to send an e-mail message to Internet user "", you would use the syntax:

To: STSCIC::in%""
If you are not on the Science Cluster and do not use the "STSCIC::"
prefix, you will get an error message like the following:

%MAIL-E-ERRACTRNS, error activating transport IN
%LIB-E-ACTIMAGE, error activating image $2$DUS1:[SYSLIB]IN_MAILSHR.EXE;
-RMS-E-FNF, file not found
If you get an error message like this, you simply need to resend your message, routing it through the Science Cluster.

People with access to the Internet can send mail to users at the Space Telescope Science Institute using the syntax Usually, a person's last name is their username (for example,, but some users precede their last name with a first initial, or use their initials as a username.

Sending a FAX

If you have an account on the Science Cluster, you can send ASCII text or PostScript files directly from your account to a FAX machine using the MAIL utility. You will receive status mail messages to let you know the progress of the transmission. The same message can be sent to one or more FAX phone numbers and combinations of e-mail addresses and FAX numbers. If there is an error in the FAX phone number, you can either edit the FAX to correct the number or abort the FAX.

To send a text or PostScript file as a FAX, you would:

  1. Start the MAIL utility by typing MAIL.

  2. At the To: prompt, send the file to FAX; for example:


    To: FAX
  1. Provide the information (such as addressee, phone number, etc.) on the interactive form that will appear (Figure 8.6).

  2. Press - to send the FAX when you are done specifying information. (You can abort the FAX by pressing - .)

To edit or abort a FAX you already sent, you would:

  1. Exit the Mail utility.

  2. Type EDITFAX and answer the prompts.

Figure 8.6: Interactive Form for Sending FAX

Status messages will be sent to you by the program through e-mail. If you want to use other features of the FAX sending program, a handout is available from the SCARS VMS system managers and is kept in the bins outside room 336.

Table 8.1: - Mail Commands
Reading Mail
Sending Mail
Figure 8.1: - Sending Mail
Figure 8.2: - Sending a File
Distribution Lists
Figure 8.3: - Distribution List for MAIL
Figure 8.4: - Sending Mail Using a Distribution List
Institute-Wide Distribution Lists
Automatic Replies
Figure 8.5: - Deleting Mail Messages
Sending Mail to Other Networks
Table 8.2: - Address Syntax for Outside Networks
Sending a FAX
Figure 8.6: - Interactive Form for Sending FAX

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