Unix – Change the “From:” address in Unix “mail”


Sending a message from the Unix command line using mail TO_ADDR results in an email from $USER@$HOSTNAME. Is there a way to change the "From:" address inserted by mail?

For the record, I'm using GNU Mailutils 1.1/1.2 on Ubuntu (but I've seen the same behavior with Fedora and RHEL).


$ mail -s Testing chris@example.org                                                                  
From: foo@bar.org



Subject: Testing
To: <chris@example.org>
X-Mailer: mail (GNU Mailutils 1.1)
Message-Id: <E1KdTJj-00025z-RK@localhost>
From: <chris@localhost>
Date: Wed, 10 Sep 2008 13:17:23 -0400

From: foo@bar.org


The "From: foo@bar.org" line is part of the message body, not part of the header.

Best Solution

In my version of mail ( Debian linux 4.0 ) the following options work for controlling the source / reply addresses

  • the -a switch, for additional headers to apply, supplying a From: header on the command line that will be appended to the outgoing mail header
  • the $REPLYTO environment variable specifies a Reply-To: header

so the following sequence

export REPLYTO=cms-replies@example.com
mail -aFrom:cms-sends@example.com -s 'Testing'

The result, in my mail clients, is a mail from cms-sends@example.com, which any replies to will default to cms-replies@example.com

NB: Mac OS users: you don't have -a , but you do have $REPLYTO

NB(2): CentOS users, many commenters have added that you need to use -r not -a

NB(3): This answer is at least ten years old(1), please bear that in mind when you're coming in from Google.