4.7. Commands

User actions are represented by Command objects that can then be triggered by alot.ui.UI.apply_command(). Command-line strings given by the user via the prompt or key bindings can be translated to Command objects using alot.commands.commandfactory(). Specific actions are defined as subclasses of Command and can be registered to a global command pool using the registerCommand decorator.


that the return value of commandfactory() depends on the current mode the user interface is in. The mode identifier is a string that is uniquely defined by the currently focuses Buffer.


The names of the commands available to the user in any given mode do not correspond one-to-one to these subclasses. You can register a Command multiple times under different names, with different forced constructor parameters and so on. See for instance the definition of BufferFocusCommand in ‘commands/globals.py’:

@registerCommand(MODE, 'bprevious', forced={'offset': -1},
                 help='focus previous buffer')
@registerCommand(MODE, 'bnext', forced={'offset': +1},
                 help='focus next buffer')
class BufferFocusCommand(Command):
    def __init__(self, buffer=None, offset=0, **kwargs):
class alot.commands.Command

base class for commands


code that gets executed when this command is applied

class alot.commands.CommandParseError

could not parse commandline string

class alot.commands.CommandArgumentParser(*args, **kwargs)

ArgumentParser that raises CommandParseError instead of printing to sys.stderr

alot.commands.commandfactory(cmdline, mode='global')

parses cmdline and constructs a Command.

  • cmdline (str) – command line to interpret
  • mode (str) – mode identifier
>>> cmd = alot.commands.commandfactory('save --all /foo', mode='thread')
>>> cmd
<alot.commands.thread.SaveAttachmentCommand object at 0x272cf10
>>> cmd.all
>>> cmd.path
alot.commands.lookup_command(cmdname, mode)

returns commandclass, argparser and forced parameters used to construct a command for cmdname when called in mode.

  • cmdname (str) – name of the command to look up
  • mode (str) – mode identifier
Return type:

(Command, ArgumentParser, dict(str->dict))

>>> (cmd, parser, kwargs) = lookup_command('save', 'thread')
>>> cmd
<class 'alot.commands.thread.SaveAttachmentCommand'>
alot.commands.lookup_parser(cmdname, mode)

returns the CommandArgumentParser used to construct a command for cmdname when called in mode.

class alot.commands.registerCommand(mode, name, help=None, usage=None, forced=None, arguments=None)

Decorator used to register a Command as handler for command name in mode so that it can be looked up later using lookup_command().

Consider this example that shows how a Command class definition is decorated to register it as handler for ‘save’ in mode ‘thread’ and add boolean and string arguments:

@registerCommand('thread', 'save', arguments=[
    (['--all'], {'action': 'store_true', 'help':'save all'}),
    (['path'], {'nargs':'?', 'help':'path to save to'})],
    help='save attachment(s)')
class SaveAttachmentCommand(Command):
  • mode (str) – mode identifier
  • name (str) – command name to register as
  • help (str) – help string summarizing what this command does
  • usage (str) – overides the auto generated usage string
  • forced (dict (str->str)) – keyword parameter used for commands constructor
  • arguments (list of (list of str, dict (str->str)) – list of arguments given as pairs (args, kwargs) accepted by argparse.ArgumentParser.add_argument().

4.7.1. Globals

class alot.commands.globals.BufferCloseCommand(buffer=None, force=False, redraw=True, **kwargs)

close a buffer

  • buffer (alot.buffers.Buffer) – the buffer to close or None for current
  • force (bool) – force buffer close
class alot.commands.globals.BufferFocusCommand(buffer=None, index=None, offset=0, **kwargs)

focus a Buffer

  • buffer (alot.buffers.Buffer) – the buffer to focus or None
  • index (int) – index (in bufferlist) of the buffer to focus.
  • offset (int) – position of the buffer to focus relative to the currently focussed one. This is used only if buffer is set to None
class alot.commands.globals.CallCommand(command, **kwargs)

Executes python code

Parameters:command (str) – python command string to call
class alot.commands.globals.ComposeCommand(envelope=None, headers=None, template=None, sender=u'', subject=u'', to=None, cc=None, bcc=None, attach=None, omit_signature=False, spawn=None, rest=None, encrypt=False, **kwargs)

compose a new email

  • envelope (Envelope) – use existing envelope
  • headers (dict (str->str)) – forced header values
  • template (str) – name of template to parse into the envelope after creation. This should be the name of a file in your template_dir
  • sender (str) – From-header value
  • subject (str) – Subject-header value
  • to (str) – To-header value
  • cc (str) – Cc-header value
  • bcc (str) – Bcc-header value
  • attach (str) – Path to files to be attached (globable)
  • omit_signature (bool) – do not attach/append signature
  • spawn (bool) – force spawning of editor in a new terminal
  • rest (list(str)) – remaining parameters. These can start with ‘mailto’ in which case it is interpreted as mailto string. Otherwise it will be interpreted as recipients (to) header
  • encrypt (bool) – if the email should be encrypted
class alot.commands.globals.EditCommand(path, spawn=None, thread=None, **kwargs)

edit a file

  • path (str) – path to the file to be edited
  • spawn (bool) – force running edtor in a new terminal
  • thread (bool) – run asynchronously, don’t block alot
class alot.commands.globals.ExitCommand

shut down cleanly

class alot.commands.globals.ExternalCommand(cmd, stdin=None, shell=False, spawn=False, refocus=True, thread=False, on_success=None, **kwargs)

run external command

  • cmd (list or str) – the command to call
  • stdin (file or str) – input to pipe to the process
  • spawn (bool) – run command in a new terminal
  • shell (bool) – let shell interpret command string
  • thread (bool) – run asynchronously, don’t block alot
  • refocus (bool) – refocus calling buffer after cmd termination
  • on_success (callable) – code to execute after command successfully exited
class alot.commands.globals.FlushCommand(callback=None, silent=False, **kwargs)

flush write operations or retry until committed

Parameters:callback (callable) – function to call after successful writeout
class alot.commands.globals.HelpCommand(commandname='', **kwargs)

display help for a command. Use ‘bindings’ to display all keybings interpreted in current mode.’

Parameters:commandname (str) – command to document
class alot.commands.globals.MoveCommand(movement=None, **kwargs)

move in widget

class alot.commands.globals.OpenBufferlistCommand(filtfun=<function <lambda>>, **kwargs)

open a list of active buffers

Parameters:filtfun (callable (str->bool)) – filter to apply to displayed list
class alot.commands.globals.PromptCommand(startwith='', **kwargs)

prompts for commandline and interprets it upon select

Parameters:startwith (str) – initial content of the prompt widget
class alot.commands.globals.PythonShellCommand

open an interactive python shell for introspection

class alot.commands.globals.RefreshCommand

refresh the current buffer

class alot.commands.globals.RepeatCommand(**kwargs)

Repeats the command executed last time

class alot.commands.globals.SearchCommand(query, sort=None, **kwargs)

open a new search buffer

  • query (str) – notmuch querystring
  • sort (str) – how to order results. Must be one of ‘oldest_first’, ‘newest_first’, ‘message_id’ or ‘unsorted’.
class alot.commands.globals.TagListCommand(filtfun=<function <lambda>>, tags=None, **kwargs)

opens taglist buffer

Parameters:filtfun (callable (str->bool)) – filter to apply to displayed list

4.7.2. Envelope

class alot.commands.envelope.AttachCommand(path=None, **kwargs)

attach files to the mail

Parameters:path (str) – files to attach (globable string)
class alot.commands.envelope.EditCommand(envelope=None, spawn=None, refocus=True, **kwargs)

edit mail

  • envelope (Envelope) – email to edit
  • spawn (bool) – force spawning of editor in a new terminal
  • refocus – m
class alot.commands.envelope.RefineCommand(key='', **kwargs)

prompt to change the value of a header

Parameters:key (str) – key of the header to change
class alot.commands.envelope.SaveCommand

save draft

class alot.commands.envelope.SendCommand(mail=None, envelope=None, **kwargs)

send mail

  • mail – email to send
  • envelope (alot.db.envelope.envelope) – envelope to use to construct the outgoing mail. This will be ignored in case the mail parameter is set.
class alot.commands.envelope.SetCommand(key, value, append=False, **kwargs)

set header value

  • key (str) – key of the header to change
  • value (str) – new value
class alot.commands.envelope.SignCommand(action=None, keyid=None, **kwargs)

toggle signing this email

  • action (str) – whether to sign/unsign/toggle
  • keyid (str) – which key id to use
class alot.commands.envelope.ToggleHeaderCommand

toggle display of all headers

class alot.commands.envelope.UnattachCommand(hint=None, **kwargs)

remove attachments from current envelope

Parameters:hint (str) – which attached file to remove
class alot.commands.envelope.UnsetCommand(key, **kwargs)

remove header field

Parameters:key (str) – key of the header to remove

4.7.3. Bufferlist

class alot.commands.bufferlist.BufferCloseCommand

close focussed buffer

class alot.commands.bufferlist.BufferFocusCommand

focus selected buffer

4.7.4. Search

class alot.commands.search.OpenThreadCommand(thread=None, **kwargs)

open thread in a new buffer

Parameters:thread (Thread) – thread to open (Uses focussed thread if unset)
class alot.commands.search.RefineCommand(query=None, sort=None, **kwargs)

refine the querystring of this buffer

Parameters:query (list of str) – new querystring given as list of strings as returned by argparse
class alot.commands.search.RefinePromptCommand

prompt to change this buffers querystring

class alot.commands.search.RetagPromptCommand

prompt to retag selected threads’ tags

class alot.commands.search.TagCommand(tags=u'', action='add', allmessages=False, flush=True, **kwargs)

manipulate message tags

  • tags (str) – comma separated list of tagstrings to set
  • action (str) – adds tags if ‘add’, removes them if ‘remove’, adds tags and removes all other if ‘set’ or toggle individually if ‘toggle’
  • all (bool) – tag all messages in search result
  • flush (bool) – imediately write out to the index

4.7.5. Taglist

class alot.commands.taglist.TaglistSelectCommand

search for messages with selected tag

4.7.6. Thread

class alot.commands.thread.BounceMailCommand(message=None, **kwargs)

directly re-send selected message

Parameters:message (alot.db.message.Message) – message to bounce (defaults to selected message)
class alot.commands.thread.ChangeDisplaymodeCommand(query=None, visible=None, raw=None, all_headers=None, **kwargs)

fold or unfold messages

  • query (str) – notmuch query string used to filter messages to affect
  • visible (True, False, 'toggle' or None) – unfold if True, fold if False, ignore if None
  • raw (True, False, 'toggle' or None) – display raw message text.
  • all_headers (True, False, 'toggle' or None) – show all headers (only visible if not in raw mode)
class alot.commands.thread.EditNewCommand(message=None, spawn=None, **kwargs)

edit message in as new

  • message (alot.db.message.Message) – message to reply to (defaults to selected message)
  • spawn (bool) – force spawning of editor in a new terminal
class alot.commands.thread.ForwardCommand(message=None, attach=True, spawn=None, **kwargs)

forward message

  • message (alot.db.message.Message) – message to forward (defaults to selected message)
  • attach (bool) – attach original mail instead of inline quoting its body
  • spawn (bool) – force spawning of editor in a new terminal
class alot.commands.thread.OpenAttachmentCommand(attachment, **kwargs)

displays an attachment according to mailcap

Parameters:attachment (Attachment) – attachment to open
class alot.commands.thread.PipeCommand(cmd, all=False, separately=False, background=False, shell=False, notify_stdout=False, format='raw', add_tags=False, noop_msg='no command specified', confirm_msg='', done_msg=None, field_key='copiousoutput', **kwargs)

pipe message(s) to stdin of a shellcommand

  • cmd (str or list of str) – shellcommand to open
  • all (bool) – pipe all, not only selected message
  • separately (bool) – call command once per message
  • background (bool) – do not suspend the interface
  • notify_stdout (bool) – display command’s stdout as notification message
  • shell – let the shell interpret the command
  • add_tags (bool) – add ‘Tags’ header to the message
  • noop_msg (str) – error notification to show if cmd is empty
  • confirm_msg (str) – confirmation question to ask (continues directly if unset)
  • done_msg (str) – notification message to show upon success
  • field_key (str) – malcap field key for decoding
class alot.commands.thread.PrintCommand(all=False, separately=False, raw=False, add_tags=False, **kwargs)

print message(s)

  • all (bool) – print all, not only selected messages
  • separately (bool) – call print command once per message
  • raw (bool) – pipe raw message string to print command
  • add_tags (bool) – add ‘Tags’ header to the message
class alot.commands.thread.RemoveCommand(all=False, **kwargs)

remove message(s) from the index

Parameters:all (bool) – remove all messages from thread, not just selected one
class alot.commands.thread.ReplyCommand(message=None, all=False, listreply=None, spawn=None, **kwargs)

reply to message

  • message (alot.db.message.Message) – message to reply to (defaults to selected message)
  • all (bool) – group reply; copies recipients from Bcc/Cc/To to the reply
  • listreply (bool) – reply to list; autodetect if unset and enabled in config
  • spawn (bool) – force spawning of editor in a new terminal
static clear_my_address(my_addresses, value)

return recipient header without the addresses in my_addresses

class alot.commands.thread.SaveAttachmentCommand(all=False, path=None, **kwargs)

save attachment(s)

  • all (bool) – save all, not only selected attachment
  • path (str) – path to write to. if all is set, this must be a directory.
class alot.commands.thread.TagCommand(tags=u'', action='add', all=False, flush=True, **kwargs)

manipulate message tags

  • tags (str) – comma separated list of tagstrings to set
  • action (str) – adds tags if ‘add’, removes them if ‘remove’, adds tags and removes all other if ‘set’ or toggle individually if ‘toggle’
  • all (bool) – tag all messages in thread
  • flush (bool) – imediately write out to the index
class alot.commands.thread.ThreadSelectCommand

select focussed element. The fired action depends on the focus: - if message summary, this toggles visibility of the message, - if attachment line, this opens the attachment

alot.commands.thread.determine_sender(mail, action='reply')

Inspect a given mail to reply/forward/bounce and find the most appropriate account to act from and construct a suitable From-Header to use.

  • mail (email.message.Message) – the email to inspect
  • action (str) – intended use case: one of “reply”, “forward” or “bounce”