Setting Global Fetchmail Options

Fetchmail runs as an ordinary user, and so uses a configuration file in an ordinary user's account. This file is called .fetchmailrc by default, but you can use another name if you prefer. As with many configuration files, a hash mark (#) denotes a comment line. Other lines perform one of two tasks: setting global options or configuring an account. The latter lines are covered in the next section, "Configuring an Account." Global options begin with the keyword set and are followed by an option name and (for many options) its value. For instance, a line might resemble the following:

set postmaster ben

This line sets the postmaster option to ben. If a value contains a space, you should enclose it within quotes. Using quotes when they aren't required does no harm for string values, but values that should be numbers should not be quoted. Table 25.5 summarizes some of the more important global Fetchmail options.

Table 25.5: Common Fetchmail Global Options

Option Name

Possible Values



Local username

Forwards mail, including certain error messages, to this address as a last resort.

bouncemail orno bouncemail


Tells Fetchmail to send bounce messages or not to send bounce messages to the apparent sender for undeliverable mail. If you use no bouncemail, the user specified with the postmaster option receives bounce messages.


Time interval in seconds

Tells Fetchmail to run in daemon mode and poll the servers at the specified interval. If this option is omitted, Fetchmail retrieves mail once whenever it's called. The upcoming section, "Running Fetchmail Automatically," covers

Fetchmail scheduling in more detail.



Configures Fetchmail to log its activities in the specified file.



Configures Fetchmail to log its activities via the system logger.

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