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The Pine Message System


Pine(tm) --a Program for Internet News and Email-- is a tool for reading, sending, and managing electronic messages. It was designed specifically with novice computer users in mind, but can be tailored to accommodate the needs of "power users" as well. Pine uses Internet message protocols (e.g. RFC-822, SMTP, MIME, IMAP, NNTP) and runs on Unix and PCs.

The guiding principles for Pine's user-interface were: careful limitation of features, one-character mnemonic commands, always-present command menus, immediate user feedback, and high tolerance for user mistakes. It is intended that Pine can be learned by exploration rather than reading manuals. Feedback from the University of Washington community and many thousands of Internet sites around the world has been encouraging.

Pine's message composition editor (Pico) and its file browser (Pilot) are also available as separate stand-alone programs. Pico is a very simple and easy-to-use text editor offering paragraph justification, cut/paste, and a spelling checker.


  • Online help specific to each screen and context.
  • Message index showing a message summary which includes the status, sender, size, date and subject of messages.
  • Commands to view and process messages: Forward, Reply, Save, Export, Print, Delete, capture address, and search.
  • Message composer with easy-to-use editor and spelling checker. The message composer also assists entering and formatting addresses and provides direct access to the address book.
  • Address book for saving long complex addresses and personal distribution lists under a nickname.
  • Message attachments via the Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME) specification. MIME allows sending/receiving non-text objects, such as binary files, spreadsheets, graphics, and sound.
  • Folder management commands for creating, deleting, listing, or renaming message folders. Folders may be local or on remote hosts.
  • Access to remote message folders and archives via the Internet Message Access Protocol version 4.1 (IMAP) as defined in RFC-2060.
  • Internet news support via either NNTP or IMAP.
  • Aggregate operations, e.g. saving a selected set of messages at once.


Pine, Pico, and UW's IMAP server are copyrighted, but freely available. The latest version, including source code, can be found on the Internet host "" in the file "pine/pine.tar.Z" (accessible via anonymous FTP). To try Pine out from the Internet, you may telnet to "" and login as "pinedemo".

For further information, visit the Pine Information Center at

There is also a Pine-specific Internet news group (comp.mail.pine).

Pine is brought to you by the Office of Computing and Communications at the University of Washington. Pine and Pico are registered trademarks of UW.