27.11. Using fetchmail

Contributed by Marc Silver.

fetchmail is a full-featured IMAP and POP client. It allows users to automatically download mail from remote IMAP and POP servers and save it into local mailboxes where it can be accessed more easily. fetchmail can be installed using the mail/fetchmail port, and offers various features, including:

This section explains some of the basic features of fetchmail. This utility requires a .fetchmailrc configuration in the user's home directory in order to run correctly. This file includes server information as well as login credentials. Due to the sensitive nature of the contents of this file, it is advisable to make it readable only by the user, with the following command:

% chmod 600 .fetchmailrc

The following .fetchmailrc serves as an example for downloading a single user mailbox using POP. It tells fetchmail to connect to example.com using a username of joesoap and a password of XXX. This example assumes that the user joesoap exists on the local system.

poll example.com protocol pop3 username "joesoap" password "XXX"

The next example connects to multiple POP and IMAP servers and redirects to different local usernames where applicable:

poll example.com proto pop3:
user "joesoap", with password "XXX", is "jsoap" here;
user "andrea", with password "XXXX";
poll example2.net proto imap:
user "john", with password "XXXXX", is "myth" here;

fetchmail can be run in daemon mode by running it with -d, followed by the interval (in seconds) that fetchmail should poll servers listed in .fetchmailrc. The following example configures fetchmail to poll every 600 seconds:

% fetchmail -d 600

More information on fetchmail can be found at http://fetchmail.berlios.de/.

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