I have recently set up a mail server running postfix as the MTA, and dovecot as the imap/pop3 daemon. Originally, and by default on Debian, it was using the mbox format. For reliability reasons, I decided that it would be best to use the Maildir format instead. Getting help from a friend, I successfully modified the postfix and dovecot servers to use the Maildir format with the mailboxes located in ~/Maildir.

However, mutt is still doing weird things when I try to access my mail using it. It wants to create a ~/Mail directory, and furthermore wants to look for an mbox in /var/mail/. There are a few users on the system, and while I know that I can use my .muttrc to solve this problem, how can I fix this problem for all users on my server?

2 Answers 2


mutt also uses a global muttrc file. Typically it's in /etc/Muttrc or /usr/local/etc/Muttrc if you compiled it separately from the distro. You can just put the Maildir settings there.

This mutt & Maildir Mini-HOWTO should give you an idea of what settings you need to change. Essentially you need to set folder and mbox and spoolfile to all point to ~/Maildir for everyone, and ensure mbox_type=Maildir as well. Then there are a few other options to change the behavior.

  • 3
    Note: spoolfile is the actual delivery ("spool") mailbox, while folder is the folder that contains all the user's mailboxes. So typically spoolfile would be inside folder, not the same. Also, there's no need to mess with mbox. Users can set it as they like, or disable moving of mail (set move=no), in which case it's not needed.
    – sleske
    Aug 25, 2010 at 23:27

Like most Unix / Linux programs, mutt will also read a system-wide configuration file, /etc/Muttrc.

You can put system-wide settings (like where the home mailbox is) there.

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    "(like where the home mailbox is)" Where?
    – bobobobo
    Aug 21, 2010 at 16:13
  • @bobobobo: There are several options which control this. Read up on options "mbox", "move" and "spoolfile" in mutt's manual ( mutt.org/doc/manual ). Then ask a specific question here :-).
    – sleske
    Aug 25, 2010 at 23:23
  • For example, $HOME/.muttrc would be one option, which would map to /home/username/.muttrc where username represents the account used to log into the computer. Sep 14, 2018 at 17:44

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