Send Email in Linux from Command Line

Filed Under: UNIX/Linux

In this article, you will learn how to send emails using the popular mail commands. It’s equally important that you also learn how to send Linux email attachments.

Some of the command line options used are:

  • -s: denotes the mail’s subject
  • -a: for denoting attachment
  • -c: for the copy email address (CC)
  • -b: for the blind copy email address (BCC)

Linux Send Email from Command Line

We will learn about following commands to send emails in Linux.

  1. mail
  2. mailx
  3. mutt
  4. mpack
  5. sendmail

1. Using mail Command

Linux mail command is quite popular and is commonly used to send emails from the command line. Mail is installed as part of mailutils and mailx packages on Debian and Redhat systems respectively. The two commands process messages on the command line.

To install mailutils in Debian and Ubuntu Systems, run:

$ sudo apt install mailutils -y

For CentOS and RedHat distributions, run:

$ yum install mailx

When you run the command, the following window will pop up. Press the TAB button and hit on ‘OK’

Postfix Configuration

In the next Window, scroll and hit ‘Internet Site’.

Internet Site option mail command

The system will thereafter finish up with the installation process.

Testing Mail command

If the mail command is successfully installed, test the application by using the following format and press enter:

$ mail –s "Test Email" email_address

Replace email_address with your email address.

For example,

$ mail –s "Test Email" james@example.com

After pressing “Enter”, you’ll be prompted for a Carbon Copy (Cc:) address. If you wish not to include a copied address, proceed and hit ENTER.

Next, type the message or the body of the Email and hit ENTER.

Finally, Press Ctrl + D simultaneously to send the Email.

Linux Mail Command Example

Output

Linux send email example

Alternatively, you can use the echo command to pipe the message you want to send to the mail command as shown below.

$ echo "sample message" | mail -s "sample mail subject" email_address

For example,

$ echo "Hello world" | mail -s "Test" james@example.com

Output

Linux email with subject

Let’s assume you have a file that you want to attach. Let’s call the file message.txt
How do you go about it? Use the command below.

$ mail -s "subject" -A message.txt email_address

The -A flag defines attachment of the file.

For example;

$ mail -s "Important Notice" -A message.txt james@example.com

Linux Send email with attachment

Output

Linux email with attachment

To send an email to many recipients run:

$ mail –s "test header" email_address email_address2

2. Using the mailx command

Mailx is the newer version of mail command and was formerly referred to as nail in other implementations. Mailx has been around since 1986 and was incorporated into POSIX in the year 1992.

Mailx is part of the Debian’s mail compound package used for various scenarios. Users, system administrators, and developers can use this mail utility. The implementation of mailx also takes the same form as the mail command line syntax.

To install mailx in Debian/Ubuntu Systems run:

$ sudo apt install mailx

To install mailx in RedHat & CentOS run:

$ yum install mailx

Testing Mailx command

You may use the echo command to direct the output to the mail command without being prompted for CC and the message body as shown here:

$ echo "message body" | mail -s "subject" email_address

For example,

$ echo "Make the most out of Linux!" | mail -s "Welcome to Linux" james@example.com

3. Using the MUTT Command

Mutt is a lightweight Linux command line email client. Unlike the mail command that can do basic stuff, mutt can send file attachments. Mutt also reads emails from POP/IMAP servers and connecting local users via the terminal.

To install mutt in Debian / Ubuntu Systems run:

$ sudo apt install mutt

To install mutt in Redhat / CentOS Systems run:

$ sudo yum install mutt

Testing Mutt command

You can send a blank message usign mutt with the < /dev/null right after the email address.

$ mutt -s "Test Email" email_address < /dev/null 

For example,

$ mutt -s "Greetings" james@example.com < /dev/null 

Output

Mutt Blank Email

Mutt command can also be used to attach a file as follows.

$ echo "Message body" | mutt -a "/path/to/file.to.attach" -s "subject of message" -- email_address

For example,

$ echo "Hey guys! How's it going ?" | mutt -a report.doc -s "Notice !" -- james@jaykiarie.com

Linux Mutt Send Email with File Attachment

Output

Mutt Email File Attached

4. Using mpack command

The mpack command is used to encode the file into MIME messages and sends them to one or several recipients, or it can even be used to post to different newsgroups.

To install mpack in Debian / Ubuntu Systems run:

$ sudo apt install mpack 

To install mpack in Redhat / CentOS Systems run:

$ sudo yum install mpack

Testing mpack command

Using mpack to send email or attachment via command line is as simple as:

$ mpack -s "Subject here" -a file email_address

For example,

$ mpack -s "Sales Report 2019" -a report.doc james@jaykiarie.com

Mpack Command

Output

Linux Mpack Send Email Attach File

5.Using sendmail

This command is another popular SMTP server used in many distributions.

To install sendmail in Debian/ Ubuntu Systems run:

$ sudo apt install sendmail

To install sendmail in RedHat / CentOS Systems run:

$ sudo yum install sendmail

Testing sendmail command

You can use the following instructions to send email using the sendmail command:

$ sendmail email_address < file

For example, I have created a file report.doc with the following text:

Hello there !

The command for sending the message will be,

$ sendmail < report.doc james@example.com

Output

Sendmail Output

You can use -s option to specify the email subject.

Summary

While the command line emails clients are a lot simpler and less computationally intensive, you can only use them to send email to personal email domains and not to Gmail or Yahoo domains because of extra authentication required.

Also, you cannot receive emails from external SMTP servers. Generally, it’s a lot easier if you use GUI email clients like Thunderbird or Evolution to avoid undelivered emails problem.

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