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There are three ways to start VM: `M-x vm', `M-x vm-visit-folder'
and `vm-mode'. The first time VM is started in an Emacs session (by
any of these methods), it attempts to load the file `~/.vm'. If
present this file should contain Lisp code, much like the `.emacs'
file. Since VM has in excess of forty configuration variables, use of
the `~/.vm' can considerably reduce clutter in the `.emacs' file. You
can force the reloading of this file on demand by typing `L' from
`M-x vm' causes VM to gather any mail present in your system mailbox
and append it to a file known as your "primary inbox", creating this
file if necessary. The default name of this file is `~/INBOX', but VM
will use whatever file is named by the variable `vm-primary-inbox'.
VM transfers the mail from the system mailbox to the primary inbox
via a temporary file known as the "crash box". The variable
`vm-crash-box' names the crash box file. VM first copies the mail to
the crash box, deletes the system mailbox, merges the crash box
contents into the primary inbox, and then deletes the crash box. If the
system or Emacs should crash in the midst of this transfer, any message
not present in the primary inbox will be either in the system mailbox or
the crash box. Some messages may be duplicated but no mail will be
If the file named by `vm-crash-box' already exists when VM is
started up, VM will merge that with the primary inbox before getting any
new messages from the system mailbox.
By default, the location of the system mailbox is determined
heuristically based on what type of system you're using. VM can be
told explicitly where the system mailbox is through the variable
`vm-spool-files'. The value of this variable should be a list of
strings naming files VM should try when searching for newly arrived
mail. Multiple mailboxes can be specified if you receive mail in more
than one place. The value of `vm-spool-files' will be inherited from
the shell environmental variables MAILPATH or MAIL if either of these
variables are defined.
`M-x vm-visit-folder' (`v' from within VM) allows you to visit some
other mail folder than the primary inbox. The folder name will be
prompted for in the minibuffer.
Once VM has read the folder, the first new or unread message will be
selected. If there is no such message, the first message in the folder
`M-x vm-mode' can be used on a buffer already loaded into Emacs to
put it into the VM major mode so that VM commands can be executed from
within it. This command is suitable for use in Lisp programs, and for
inclusion in `auto-mode-alist' to automatically start VM on a file
based on a particular filename suffix. `vm-mode' foregoes some of VM's
startup procedures (e.g. starting up a summary) to facilitate
The variable `vm-startup-with-summary' controls whether VM
automatically displays a summary of the folder's contents at startup. A
value of `nil' gives no summary; a value of `t' gives a full screen
summary. A value that is neither `t' nor `nil' splits the screen
between the summary and the folder display. The latter only works if
the variable `pop-up-windows''s value is non-`nil', and the value of
`vm-mutable-windows' is non-`nil'. The default value of
`vm-startup-with-summary' is `nil'.
The variable `vm-mail-window-percentage' tells VM what percentage of
the screen should be given to the folder display when both it and the
folder summary are being displayed. Note that Emacs enforces a minimum
window size limit, so a very high or very low value for this variable
may squeeze out one of the displays entirely. This variable's default
value is 75, which works with Emacs' default minimum window size limit,
on a 24 line terminal. Note that the value of `vm-mutable-windows'
must be `t' or VM will not do window resizing regardless of the value
A non-`nil' value for the variable `vm-inhibit-startup-message'
disables the display of the VM's copyright, copying and warranty
disclaimer. If you must, set this variable in your own `.emacs' file;
don't set it globally for everyone. Users should be told their rights.
The startup messages abort at the first keystroke after startup, so
they do not impede mail reading.
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