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Screenshot of fetchmail launcher
Screenshot of fetchmail launcher
Original author(s) Eric S. Raymond
Stable release
6.3.26 / April 23, 2013; 5 years ago (2013-04-23)[1]
Repository Edit this at Wikidata
Operating system Unix-like
Type Mail delivery agent
License GNU General Public License
Website www.fetchmail.info

Fetchmail is an open source software utility for POSIX-compliant operating systems which is used to retrieve e-mail from a remote POP3, IMAP, ETRN or ODMR mail server to the user's local system. It was developed from the popclient program, written by Carl Harris.[2]

Its chief significance is perhaps that its author, Eric S. Raymond, used it as a model to discuss his theories of open source software development in a widely read and influential essay on software development methodologies, The Cathedral and the Bazaar.


By design Fetchmail's only means of delivering messages is by submitting them to the local MTA/Message transfer agent or invoking a mail delivery agent[3] like procmail, maildrop, or sendmail; delivering directly to mail folders such as maildir is not supported.

Dan Bernstein, getmail creator Charles Cazabon and FreeBSD developer Terry Lambert, have criticized Fetchmail's design,[4] its number of security holes,[5] and that it was prematurely put into "maintenance mode". In 2004, a new team of maintainers took over Fetchmail development,[6] and laid out development plans that broke with design decisions that Eric Raymond had made in earlier versions.[7]


Fetchmail can be configured form .fetchmailrc file. Since it have sensitive information, it is always recommended to grant exclusive permissions to the owner.

chmod 600 ~/.fetchmailrc

Useful configurations[edit]

Below are listed some useful configurations, more options are documented on Fetchmail official page.

Download email[edit]

Download emails from single server

poll SEVERNAME protocol PROTOCOL username “USERNAME” password “PASSWORD” is “LOCALUSER” here

Download emails from multiple servers

user “USERNAME_1”, with password “USER_1_PASSWORD”, is “LOCALUSER” here;
user “USERNAME_2”, with password “USER_2_PASSWORD”;
user “USERNAME_3”, with password “USER_3_PASSWORD”;
user “USERNAMES”, with password “USERPASSWORDS”, is “LOCALUSER” here;

If we want to download at intervals we have two options, daemon mode: i.e: Every 2 minutes

fetchmail –d 120

or from cronetab, you have to edit the configuration file doing cronetab -e, there you need to add a new line with the frequency you want fetchmail to be executed. i.e: Every 2 minutes every day of the week

0-59/2 * * * * fetchmail

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "File Release Notes and Changelog". 2013-04-23. Archived from the original on 2013-06-18. Retrieved 2013-06-24. 
  2. ^ Raymond, Eric. "'Eric S. Raymond's former Design Notes On Fetchmail'". Retrieved 2007-04-03. 
  3. ^ "...or into an MDA program...", Section G1, The Fetchmail FAQ
  4. ^ Lambert, Terry. "'UUCP must stay; fetchmail sucks (was list 'o things)'". Retrieved 2007-04-05. 
  5. ^ Cazabon, Charles. "'getmail frequently asked questions'". Retrieved 2007-04-05. 
  6. ^ "'Developer History'". Retrieved 2007-04-05. 
  7. ^ "'Design Notes On Fetchmail'". Retrieved 2007-04-05. 

External links[edit]