The -help and -version Switches

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Any time you need a quick reminder of an MH command's switches, use the -help switch. For example, here's a list for scan:

% scan -help
syntax: scan [+folder] [msgs] [switches]
  switches are:
  -form formatfile
  -(forma)t string
  -width columns
  -(file) file
profile: -form scan.timely

version: MH 6.8.3 #1[UCI] (ora) of Sun Feb 13 14:19:54 PST 1994
The syntax: shows what kinds of things you can type on the command line. Some parts of some switches are shown in parentheses -- this is the shortest abbreviation you can use -- for example, you can type -forma instead of -format. But it doesn't show all abbreviations; for example, you can use -w instead of -width.

You'll get the profile: line in nmh as well as MH 6.8.4 and above. It shows your MH profile entry (here, -form scan.timely) for the command you're getting help on (here, scan).

The version: and options: information is important when you're asking questions or reporting bugs to someone who's not at your computer site. There are several versions of MH and lots of configuration options -- an expert may need to know how your MH is set up, and this information will explain it. The #1 means this was the first build of MH 6.8.3 on our computer named ora. Local changes and rebuilds will change this to #2, #3, etc. The options: are explained in your online mh-gen(8) manual page.

In nmh, the -help output doesn't have the version: and options: information. To get the version, put a -version switch on any command line. The build options are stored in the nmh configuration files -- but nmh has fewer build options than MH, so you often won't need to bother.

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Revised by Jerry Peek. Last change $Date: 1999/10/10 05:14:05 $

This file is from the third edition of the book MH & xmh: Email for Users & Programmers, ISBN 1-56592-093-7, by Jerry Peek. Copyright © 1991, 1992, 1995 by O'Reilly & Associates, Inc. This file is freely available; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation. For more information, see the file copying.htm.

Suggestions are welcome: Jerry Peek <>