News reading with Pine

This document covers intermediate/advanced features of Pine. To get the most out of this document you should be comfortable with using Pine to send and receive E-Mail.If you are not familiar with the use of Pine please review the
information on email/Pine.

Table of Contents


One of the features of Pine is the ability to read and post to Usenet newsgroups.

Pine creates a 'folder' for each newsgroup and presents each posting in the same manner as a email message. For the most part reading and replying to news is the same as reading and replying to email.

Pine uses the same commands for manipulating news folders as for mail folders. This means, for example, that when you are done with a message, you would use "D" to mark it as Deleted (or Dismissed, if you prefer.) This "mail-like" behavior differs from that of most newsreaders, wherein a message is automatically dismissed after you have looked at it once.

The developers strongly believe that Pine should offer as much consistency as possible between mail and news, so the convention --wherein a message does not magically disappear without explicit action by the user-- is used for news as well.

In some instances Pine brings features not generally available in other newsreaders such as the ability to postpone a message (and send it later) in other instances, Pine may seem to have it's own special quirks... ;-)

Configuring Pine...

Before you can use Pine to read news the program (Pine) must be configured with the location of the news 'server'. If your site only supports the Pine newsreader, this configuration will already be done and you can proceed directly to Reading News with Pine

If your system primarily supports another newsreader (such as Tin) you will likely have to change the (Pine) configuration to let Pine know where the news server is located...

You should enable the "enable-aggregate-command-set" feature in Setu -->Config to allow you can use the Select command. This is useful for operations such as "tag and deleting" messages or performing other 'block' features.

Reading News with Pine

The news folders (a group of which are called a 'collection') can be accessed either via the FOLDER LIST screen, or via the 'g' GOTO command. (*)

As noted above, Pine uses similar commands for manipulating news folders as for mail folders. Pine keeps track of which messages you have dismissed (marked as Deleted) just as in a regular mail folder. You can use the 'D'elete command along with the 'x' eXclude command to remove deleted messages from the Folder Index. Whenever you open a newsgroup folder, messages marked Deleted are already excluded from the Index by default.

Note: Because the Deleted flag is preserved between sessions, the '&' unexclude command will restore deleted messages to the Folder Index.

Using Pine to Post to a Newsgroup

As noted above, Pine uses the same commands for manipulating news folders as for mail folders. This similarity (with Pine email) carries over into the preparation of newsgroup postings.

When you use the Pine 'c'ompose command, Pine will assume that this is a new posting provided you have been viewing a newsgroup (If you have been reading mail Pine assumes that you want to send email).

Pine also assumes that you want to post to the current newsgroup and will ask you to confirm this.

Pine menu options are listed at the bottom of the screen and 'context-sensitive' help is available. (See also: (*))

Posting to Multiple Newsgroups

You can include other newsgroups by either entering a 'comma' and typing in the name of the next newsgroup

...or by pressing ^T (Ctrl-t) to get a list of all the available newsgroups.

Pine offers you a list of available newsgroups ...rather than a list of newsgroups to which you are subscribed (...or the option to select one list or the other). Happily you can use the 'w' (Where-is) option to search for the name of a newsgroup.

Using Pine to Reply to News

When you Reply to a newsgroup message Pine offers you three options:

After selecting one of these options, the normal Pine commands are used to compose and process the message.
You can add or remove newsgroups from the target list. The 'delete line' command can be used to remove an address if it is on a single line. If you are adding a new newsgroup be sure that there is a comma between each address in the list.
Unlike some newsreaders, Pine offers you the opportunity to postpone a message and send it later.

Catching up...

A frequent operation in news-reading is "catching up"... that is, getting rid of all the messages in the news group so that you can "start fresh". At the moment, the easiest way to do this in Pine is via the Select command.

The process is to use the command set:

Selec -->Al -->Actio -->Delete

...represented by the keystrokes ; a a d . Note that the "enable-aggregate-command-set" feature must be selected in Setu -->Config before you can use the Select command.

Managing Binary (News) Files with Pine

Pine really shines when it comes to sending a binary file to a newsgroup. This is because Pine uses the 'attachment' method and allows you to browse a list of files in your home directory. In addition, Pine automatically converts the binary file into an encoded format so that it can be transmitted via Usenet news.

Pine Quirks and Bugs

With it's "roots" in email, Pine's approach to Usenet news has a few quirks for someone who is familiar with some of the other newsreaders that were developed specifically for Usenet news.

Pine Quirk - Adding a Newsgroup

To add a newsgroup in Pine you must change to the list of news folders currently available. Depending on the way you enter these folders, Pine will present you with two different sets of menu options, one of which DOES NOT include the 'a'dd newsgroup option. This can be confusing to new users.

To Add a Newsgroup

Select 'm'ain menu and 'L' (Folder List). One of the available options presented is 'A'dd a folder. This applies to both mail and news folders which are accessible via this route.
If however, you use the 'g'oto command and then '^t' (ToFolders) the menu options DO NOT INCLUDE the ADD Folder option.

Pine Quirk - Moving from one newsgroup to another...

If you press the 'left-arrow' key while viewing a list of postings you will be transported directly to the (Pine) Main Menu. This might become irritating if what you wish is to view another newsgroup, you should use the 'L' command (List Folders) to jump directly to the list of subscribed folders.

See also: