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MBLAZE(7) FreeBSD Miscellaneous Information Manual MBLAZE(7)

introduction to the mblaze message system

The mblaze message system is a set of Unix utilities for processing and interacting with mail messages which are stored in maildir folders.

Its design is roughly inspired by MH, the RAND Message Handling System, but it is a complete implementation from scratch.

mblaze consists of these Unix utilities that each do one job:

extract mail addresses from messages
search messages matching a pattern
bounce messages
compose and send messages
deliver messages or import mbox file
list maildir folders, recursively
export messages as mbox file
manipulate maildir message flags
reflow format=flowed plain text messages
forward messages
generate a Message-ID
print message headers
incorporate new messages
conveniently read messages in less(1)
list and filter messages
create MIME messages
create new maildir folders
advanced message filter
move or copy messages between maildir folders
reply to messages
generate one-line message summaries
manipulate message headers
manipulate message sequences
render messages and extract MIME parts
sort messages
arrange messages into discussions

mblaze is a classic command line MUA and has no features for receiving or transferring messages; you can operate on messages in a local maildir spool, or fetch your messages using fdm(1), getmail(1), offlineimap(1), or similar utilities, and send it using dma(8), msmtp(1), sendmail(8), as provided by OpenSMTPD, Postfix, or similar.

mblaze operates directly on maildir folders and doesn't use its own caches or databases. There is no setup needed for many uses. All utilities have been written with performance in mind. Enumeration of all messages in a maildir is avoided unless necessary, and then optimized to limit syscalls. Parsing message metadata is optimized to limit I/O requests. Initial operations on a large maildir may feel slow, but as soon as they are in the file system cache, everything is blazingly fast. The utilities are written to be memory efficient (i.e. not wasteful), but whole messages are assumed to fit into RAM easily (one at a time).

mblaze has been written from scratch and is now well tested, but it is not 100% RFC-conforming (which is neither worth it, nor desirable). There may be issues with very old, nonconforming, messages.

mblaze is written in portable C, using only POSIX functions (apart from a tiny Linux-only optimization), and has no external dependencies. It supports MIME and more than 7-bit messages (everything the host iconv(3) can decode). It assumes you work in a UTF-8 environment. mblaze works well with other Unix utilities such as mairix(1), mu(1), or offlineimap(1).

mblaze utilities are designed to be composed together in a pipe. They are suitable for interactive use and for scripting, and integrate well into a Unix workflow.

For example, you could decide you want to look at all unseen messages in your INBOX, oldest first.

mlist -s ~/Maildir/INBOX | msort -d | mscan

To operate on a set of messages in multiple steps, you can save it as a sequence, e.g. add a call to ‘mseq -S’ to the above command:

mlist -s ~/Maildir/INBOX | msort -d | mseq -S | mscan

Now mscan will show message numbers and you could look at the first five messages at once, for example:

mshow 1:5

Likewise, you could decide to incorporate (by moving from new to cur) all new messages in all folders, thread it and look at it interactively:

mdirs ~/Maildir | xargs minc | mthread | mless

Or you could list the attachments of the 20 largest messages in your INBOX:

mlist ~/Maildir/INBOX | msort -S | tail -20 | mshow -t

Or apply the patches from the current message:

mshow -O. '*.diff' | patch

As usual with pipes, the sky is the limit.

mblaze deals with messages (which are files), folders (which are maildir folders), sequences (which are newline-separated lists of messages, possibly saved on disk in ${MBLAZE:-$HOME/.mblaze}/seq), and the current message (kept as a symlink in ${MBLAZE:-$HOME/.mblaze}/cur).

Messages in the saved sequence can be referred to using special syntax as explained in mmsg(7).

Many utilities have a default behavior when used interactively from a terminal (e.g. operate on the current message or the current sequence). For scripting, you must make these arguments explicit.

For configuration, see mblaze-profile(5).

mailx(1), mblaze-profile(5), nmh(7)

Leah Neukirchen <>

There is a mailing list available at (to subscribe, send a message to; archives are available at There also is an IRC channel #vuxu on Please report security-related bugs directly to the author.

mblaze is in the public domain.

To the extent possible under law, the creator of this work has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to this work.

January 18, 2020 FreeBSD 13.1-RELEASE

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