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Managing External Viewers with Mailcap
This document describes the support for Mailcap (RFC 1524) in ELinks. It does
not describe the mailcap format. There are plenty of documents on the Web that
does this. Google and thou wilt find. ;)
A Short Intro to Mailcap
Mailcap is a file format defined in RFC 1524. Its purpose is to inform
multiple mail reading user agent (MUA) programs about the locally-installed
facilities for handling mail in various formats. It is designed to work with
the Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions, known as MIME.
ELinks allows MIME handlers to be defined using its own configuration system,
so why support mailcap? It can be seen as an alternative or simply as a
supplement for setting up MIME handlers in ELinks. Mailcap files are present
on most UNIX systems--usually in /etc/mailcap--so this makes it possible for
ELinks to know how to handle a great variety of file formats with little
configuration. To be able to use mailcap, it has to be compiled into ELinks.
This is the default. If you don't need mailcap support, just configure ELinks
with the flag: \--disable-mailcap.
Parameters to Mailcap Entries
The code has been ported from Mutt and thereby inherits some of its various
features and limitation.
The following parameters are supported:
Parameter Description
%s The filename that contains the data.
%f The content type, like 'text/plain'.
The following parameters are not supported, since they do not really make much
sense for a non-MUA program:
Parameter Description
%n The integer number of sub-parts in the multipart
%F The "content-type filename" repeated for each sub-part
%{ parameter} The "parameter" value from the content-type field
Reading of Mailcap Files
Mailcap files will be read when starting ELinks. The mailcap files to use will
be found from the mailcap path, a colon separated list of files similar to the
$PATH environment variable. The mailcap path will be determined in the
following way:
- From the value of the mime.mailcap.path option in elinks.conf; for example:
set mime.mailcap.path = "~/.mailcap:/usr/local/etc/mailcap"
- From MAILCAP environment variable.
- If non of the above is defined, the mailcap path defaults to
Since mailcap handling is primarily for displaying of resources, all fields
like edit, print, compose etc. are ignored.
Note: Test commands are supported, but unfortunately, it's not possible to
provide the file when running the test. So any test that requires a file will
be considered failed and the handler will not be used.
Unfortunately, there are no 'native' support for the copiousoutput field. The
field basically mean 'needs pager'. So it is handled by appending a pipe and a
pager program to the command. The pager program will be read from the `PAGER`
environment variable. If this fails, test are made for common pager programs
(`/usr/bin/pager`, `/usr/bin/less` and `/usr/bin/more` in that order). So if you
define png2ascii as your handler for image/png and specify copiousoutput then
the executed command will be "`png2ascii |/usr/bin/less`" if less is your pager
or present on your system.
Mailcap Configuration
Apart from the mime.mailcap.path option, you can configure if mailcap support
should be disabled. The default being that it is enabled. To disable it just
set mime.mailcap.enable = 0
in elinks.conf.
It is also possible to control whether ELinks should ask you before opening a
file. The option is a boolean and can be set like this:
set mime.mailcap.ask = 1
if you would like to be asked before opening a file.
Some Sample Mailcap Entries
Below are examples of how to specify external viewers:
# Use xv if X is running
image/*; xv %s ; test=test -n "$DISPLAY";
text/x-csrc; view %s; needsterminal
# Various multimedia files
audio/mpeg; xmms '%s'; test=test -n "$DISPLAY";
application/pdf; xpdf '%s'; test=test -n "$DISPLAY";
application/postscript; ps2ascii %s ; copiousoutput