Mail Filters on the Nevis mail server

A "mail filter" is a program that controls how your mail is delivered to you. The default mail filter on the Nevis mail server is to place all your mail into your INBOX. You can modify this behavior to deliver some messages to a designated folder, auto-reply to certain emails, forward some or all of your emails to other email addresses, and more.

If you want to filter or reject spam, you're better off working with SpamAssassin.

Short version

There are two mail filter agents available on the Nevis mail server. Click on the link that you want to explore:

  • Sieve is easier to use. It's probably the one you want.

  • Procmail is the more powerful filter, but it is harder to use.

Examples of what Sieve can't do: auto-respond to an email and include that email's subject in the body of your response; forward certain emails into a program to accumulate the number of messages with C1401 in the body of the email. If you want sophisticated mail processing, you'll need Procmail.

Why bother?

Why should I bother configuring mail filters on the Nevis mail server? The mail reader on my laptop (e.g., Thunderbird, Apple Mail, Outlook) already has mail filters.

  • Speed: The mail server is faster at processing your email than your laptop/desktop.

  • Configuration: In general, Sieve and/or Procmail provide a greater level of control than your mail reader. (Boast: Procmail certainly provides a greater level of control than Gmail or Columbia's LionMail.)

  • Multiple devices: If you read your mail on different devices (e.g., your laptop, a desktop, your phone) then the mail-filter rules will apply to all your incoming mail. If you set up mail filters within Thunderbird on your laptop, that will have no effect on mail you receive via the Mail app on your iPhone.

  • Mail routing: The mail readers typically found on laptops can't automatically send replies or forward emails.

What can you do with mail filters?

Here's a practical example.

Every time a LArSoft developer makes a change to the LArSoft git repository, I get an email message from or Frequently I get dozens of such emails every day. I don't want to automatically delete them, since there may be something that impacts my work, but I don't want them cluttering my INBOX either.

So I use a mail filter to test if the "From" address of each email I receive includes or If it does, the mail is immediately sent to my LArSoft Commit folder instead of my INBOX. Periodically I review the contents of that folder to see if any code changes are relevant to me.

You can see exactly how I implemented the above filters in the Sieve and Procmail pages.

Getting started

Click on the link for the filter you'd like to learn more about: Procmail or Sieve.

If you set up both Procmail and Sieve filters, first the Procmail filter(s) are executed, then Sieve.

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Topic revision: r4 - 2019-10-07 - WilliamSeligman
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