set] MATH DEPT Computer News, Volume 23

How to view e-mail formatted in HTML originating from the web

Click on RELOAD now. This page is frequently updated and you might be looking at an old version saved by your netscape cache.

If you stick with an old mail system like pine, elm, or just plain old mail, you will be annoyed more and more by e-mail that comes to you in the unviewable hypertext mark-up language HTML. I explain here how you can view this stuff.

First, start up Netscape by typing something like

netscape -install &

(You don't have to have the -install option, but it keeps netscape from using up all the colors and you can start other things like xdvi without running out of colors.)

Next, you will start up something called Netscape Mail. Pull down the "Communicator" menu at the top of the Netscape window and select "Messenger." If you are doing this for the first time, Netscape will create a directory in your Home directory called nsmail containing the following files:

Drafts            Sent              Trash
Inbox             Templates         Unsent Messages

When you select Messenger, a window will pop up that does e-mail in Netscape. You will probably need to resize it to make it usable. I make mine go full screen.


If, like David Drasin, you keep hundreds of old messages in your mail box, be very careful not to click on the "Get Msg" icon or to select "Get New Messages" from the FILE menu in Netscape Mail. If you do this, all the messages stored in your mail box will get moved over to your Inbox in Netscape mail (which is your new file Inbox in your new directory nsmail), and next time you use your regular e-mail program, it will look like all your old messages are gone. They are not gone, they are moved. If you want to view your old messages in your old e-mail program, just open ~/nsmail/Inbox as a folder. You can also copy the file ~/nsmail/Inbox to a mail folder with a name like old_mail in the directory where your mail program keeps its folders (the Mail directory in elm, for example). This might force you to make an appropriate change in life style.

If you make this mistake and you want your messages moved back, just e-mail systems@math and ask them to cat your file ~/nsmail/Inbox back to the end of your file /usr/mail/your_login_id_here. They'll know what you did. You don't have to explain.

Note: The tilde in ~/nsmail/Inbox is UNIX shorthand for the name of your home directory. In my case, it is short for /u/u9/bell.

After you finish reading this page, you might want to read what Rodrigo Bañuelos has to say about

How to change your Netscape Mail Preferences so that your mail box does not get moved to your Netscape Inbox.

Next, pull down the FILE menu in Netscape Messenger and select "New Subfolder." In the little window that pops up, type a name like transfer. This will create a new mail folder in your nsmail directory called transfer.

Ok, now we are ready to go. Let's say you just got an e-mail in elm that is HTML gobbledygook and you want to view it. Move down to the message on the list in elm that you want to look at and type

s ~/nsmail/transfer

This will save the message to the "transfer" folder in Netscape Mail. Now go back to Netscape Messenger and click on the folder "transfer." (If you don't see it, you might need to click on the little box with the plus sign in it next to the "Local Mail" icon in the left hand column on the screen.) After you click on the "transfer" folder, you will see a message list in the box in the upper right of the window. Scroll down to the bottom and click on the message you just moved to view it. It will appear in the box below the list in the lower right. (If you haven't resized your window to full screen, you will wish you had at this point. It is not too late.)

After you determine that what you have is junk mail, click on the Delete icon in the task bar at the top of the window. To get out of Netscape Mail, just select "Close" from the FILE menu. (If you select "Exit" you will also close your Netscape Navigator window.)

If you get comfortable using Netscape Mail, you will discover that it is quite good at displaying attachments of various kinds (PDF files, PostScript files, images in JPEG or GIF format, DVI files, etc.). You can usually click on an attachment to have it pop up in the appropriate viewer where you can select PRINT from the FILE menu to print it. The attachments appear at the bottom of the e-mail as links that you can click on. You can also click on the "paper clip" icon to toggle the showing of the attachment viewing box at the bottom of the screen. In that case the attachments appear as icons that you can click on.

If you only want to view an e-mail that comes in HTML once or rarely, you might try the following method to avoid all the hassle above.

First, I save the offending message to a file with a .html extension. For example, in elm, I would move down to the message in the list I want to view and type something like

s junkmail.html

to save the message in a file called junkmail.html.

Next, I would edit the file junkmail.html to remove the mail header text. (This might not be necessary if the mail came as an attachment and you were prompted to save it as a file.)

Finally, I would go to the directory where junkmail.html resides and type

netscape junkmail.html &

and, if you are lucky, voila, there you see it! (Don't forget to delete it.) If you don't see it, or if it is garbled, you will need to use the harder method I described above.

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