Picture this situation: You are sitting at a UNIX terminal and virtually everything requires using the keyboard. Even the mouse brings up keyboard-operated applications. Here’s some information that can help you out with your UNIX e-mail, as well as reduce the number of things you need to memorize. Virtually every UNIX install includes an e-mail program called ELM, and if you know its commands, you can navigate through ELM with ease.

I have put the main key commands into an easy-to-read “cheat sheet.” This sheet is for everyone from beginner to expert and can definitely speed up your productivity. Of course, the commands may vary between various versions of UNIX, but I am sure they apply to the majority of installations out there.
Remember that clicking on the mailbox at the bottom of your screen may not bring up the ELM mail program. However, you can open ELM by typing “elm” in a terminal window.

Sample of our ELM cheat sheet
Keyboard Command What it Does
? Help: Press it once to enter help mode. The

second key entry will give a one-line description

of the command attached to the key (if there

is one), and if you enter a “?” here, you will

obtain a summary listing for each command

available. To return to the main menu, hit ESC or “.”

! This allows you to send a command to the shell without

exiting ELM.

= This sets the pointer to the first message.
* This sets the pointer to the last message.
$ This allows you to decide whether or not to delete

messages without quitting ELM.

n This moves to the next message in your mailbox.
(a number) This allows you to set the “current message” to the

number of the message entered.

/pattern This searches through all the “from” and “subject”

lines for pattern. This is not case-sensitive.

<CR> This allows you to read the current message.

Download our ELM cheat sheet
You can download the ELM cheat sheet as a Microsoft Word document and Adobe PDF file, zipped with WinZip for Windows, by following this link to the WinZip file. If you are working from a UNIX machine, please follow this link to the gzip compressed Adobe Acrobat file or this link to the gzip compressed rich text file. You can also click the Downloads link in the navigation bar on the top of this page. TechRepublic has many useful documents, templates, and applications available to download, so be sure to check out our other offerings.

If you’re working on a Windows machine, you will need an unzip utility such as WinZip or PKZIP to expand the zipped file. If you are working from a UNIX machine, you will need to use gzip or gunzip to decompress the files. You will also need Microsoft Word, Adobe’s Acrobat Reader, or another application capable of reading rich text files to view each respective document. You can download the Adobe Acrobat Reader here.
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