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Attachments to email messages

See also 4.6 How can I control association of MIME-attachments with applications and filenames?

5.1 Why does Pine encode text attachments?

Pine uses MIME's Base64 encoding for *all* attachments, including text, in order to assure that they are not modified in transit. The goal is make sure that sending file attachments in Pine is as dependable as using FTP.

Although it may seem like encoding is unnecessary for files that are plain text, certain email gateway, trasport, and delivery agents pose a threat to the integrity of even text files (much less binary files). For example, long lines may be wrapped, trailing spaces deleted, tabs turned into spaces, lines beginning with "From " modified, etc.

5.1.1 How can I send a text file without it being encoded?

This is easily done by using Pine's "file inclusion" key (Control-R). Instead of entering the file name on the Attchmnt header line, move the cursor to the bottom of your messaage, and press Control-R, then enter the name of the text file. It will be included at the end of your message without any encoding (unless the file contains 8bit or binary characters, in which case the entire message becomes subject to MIME encoding rules.)

5.2 Why does Pine use Base64 instead of UUENCODE?

Pine uses the Internet MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions) standard for all attachments. MIME uses "Base64" encoding rather than uuencode, because uuencode uses characters that are transformed by some email gateways, and there are also several incompatible versions of uuencode. However, if needed, you can certainly uuencode a file outside of Pine, then use the Composer's Ctrl-R (file inclusion) command to insert the uuencoded file into the message.

5.3 How do I convert a Sun Mailtool attachment to MIME format?

Keith Moore <moore@cs.utk.edu> has written a Perl conversion script to convert Mailtool to MIME. The Perl script and C conversion are available in


and a description of the program can be found in


5.4 How do I decode an attachment in a message I received that is in BinHex or UUencoded format?

Save the attachment to a file and use a decoding program running on the operating system you are using and capable of handling the encoding format; for example:

Please note: Successfully decoding an attachment alone does not assure that you can use the resulting file(s) on your computer. For example, you may be able to decode a BinHex-encoded file on your MS Windows/DOS PC, but end up with a Macintosh application that you cannot run; or you may not have the application program needed to open a data file. Ask the sender of the message with the attachment what it is/how do handle it, if in doubt.

5.5 How can someone without Pine decipher an attachment to a message I send?

Pine uses the MIME Internet standard for attaching files to email messages. Any MIME-capable mailer should be able to "understand" Pine's attachments. If the recipient of your message with attachment does not have MIME-capable email software, they should be able to save the attachment to a file and then decode that. One freely-available program which can decipher a MIME attachment is munpack from Carnegie Mellon. It is available at:

Another one is UUDeview, available at:

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Modified: September 23, 1998