Alpine (email client)

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Main menu of Alpine 2.00.
Developer(s) University of Washington
Initial release December 20, 2007; 6 years ago (2007-12-20)
Stable release 2.11 (August 13, 2013; 13 months ago (2013-08-13)) [±]
Written in C
Operating system Cross-platform
Available in English
Type Email client
License Apache License

Alpine is a free software email client developed at the University of Washington.

Alpine 1.0 was publicly released on December 20, 2007.

The name "Alpine" stands for Alternatively Licensed Program for Internet News and Email.[1]

Alpine is a rewrite of the Pine Message System that adds support for Unicode and other features. Alpine is meant to be suitable for both inexperienced email users and the most demanding of power users. Alpine was developed at the University of Washington, as was Pine before it. Alpine can be learned by exploration and the use of context-sensitive help. The user interface can be customized.


Alpine is licensed under the Apache License (version 2 - November 29, 2006), and saw its first public alpha release December 20, 2007. [2][3] This milestone was a new approach, since the alpha test of Pine was always non-public.


Alpine shares many common features of console applications, like a rich set of shortcut keys, using keyboard instead of mouse to do all navigation and operation. In fact, all operations in Alpine have corresponding shortcut keys.

Unlike other console applications targeting developers and experienced users, which often require users to edit a configuration file, Alpine lets users change most configuration options within the software. This makes alpine one of the most easy to learn console-based email clients.

Alpine supports IMAP, POP, SMTP, NNTP and LDAP protocol natively. Although it does not support composing HTML email, it can display emails that only have HTML content as text. Alpine can read and write to folders in several formats, including mbox, the mh format used by the mh message handling system, mbx, and mix.

Alpine includes its own editor Pico (Pico stands for PIne COmposer), which includes commands for basic editing of files, such as, search and replace, spelling, and justifying of text, besides cut and paste, and intuitive navigation commands. However, any editor can be used to compose messages in Alpine, using the Editor configuration variable.

Besides being able to set up an alternate editor, users can configure more than a hundred variables and options to their liking, including setting up configuration for sending and receiving e-mail from different services, through an Incoming Folders collection and the use of personalities (called roles in Alpine), and therefore a user can share the same addressbook between different accounts. Alpine can also sort individual folders by several criteria, including threading, original sender, recipient, and size. Alpine also allows users to configure colors, filters, scores, and character set of the display among others. Your configuration and addressbooks can be saved locally or on a remote IMAP server, so that they be accessible to you wherever you are. Alpine also handles encrypted and signed messages using the S/MIME standard.

Although Alpine was designed to be accessible for beginners, it can be easily set up for more advanced users. All screens in Alpine include built-in help, which can be quickly accessed with the CTRL-G command.


On 4 August 2008, the University of Washington Alpine team announced[4] that after one more release, incorporating Web Alpine 2.0, they would "shift [their] effort from direct development into more of a consultation and coordination role to help integrate contributions from the community". This is likely to be interpreted as a statement that the UW team no longer maintains Alpine,[5] and is leaving development to others.


One continuation is Re-Alpine.[6] On 20 August 2011, re-alpine became the upstream source for the Debian GNU/Linux alpine package in the development version of Debian.[7]

Alpine 2.10[edit]

On 16 January 2013, long time contributor to the project Eduardo Chappa released version 2.10 of Alpine. The release announcement[8] was posted to the comp.mail.pine Usenet newsgroup.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Alpine Messaging System--What is...?". 2009-03-06. Retrieved 2013-07-29. 
  2. ^ Ryan Barrett (2006-11-30). "Announcing Alpine 0.8". Retrieved 2012-01-04. 
  3. ^ "Alpine FTP download directory". Retrieved 2012-01-04. 
  4. ^ Steve Hubert (2011-08-04). "alpine status". Retrieved 2012-01-04. 
  5. ^ Mark Crispin (2009-08-03). "Re-Alpine 2.01 released". Retrieved 2012-01-04. 
  6. ^ "re-alpine: The continuation of the Alpine email client from University of Washington". Retrieved 2012-01-04. 
  7. ^ "Change log for "alpine" package in Debian - 2.02-1". Retrieved 2012-10-31. 
  8. ^ "Alpine 2.10 released!". Retrieved 2013-01-18. 

External links[edit]