Majordomo Commands

Majordomo Commands

Majordomo is an email list manager developed by Brent Chapman of Great Circle Associates. It is written in Perl and works in conjunction with sendmail on UNIX and other operating systems.

How do I get started using Majordomo?

If you requested a digest when you requested Majordomo with your web host, you are set up with 2 lists, the listname you requested, and the digest version of your list. For example, if your requested list name is mylist, your digest is mylist-digest. These list names are not case-sensitive.

After your list is set up, you should know your list name and password.

As soon as possible you should issue a “newinfo” command for your list to create the file that someone will receive when they join or ask about your list. Every administrative function with Majordomo is command-driven, so let’s get into that now…

Majordomo Commands

You can issue a who command for your list to see who’s already on your list. You may or may not already be subscribed to your own list.

With Majordomo your mailing list is managed by an automated mailing list management program. Majordomo should free you from dealing with most of the administrivia usually associated with running mailing lists (adding users, dropping users, etc.).

To submit something to your list, you (or anybody else) should simply mail it to the list posting address shown at the top of this file.

To be added to your list, a user simply sends a message to majordomo.

address– To:
message– subscribe mylist

Majordomo understands several commands, and is not limited to a single command per message (it will process commands until reaching end-of-message or the command “end”). The command help will tell you about all the other commands.

Actually, it won’t tell you about all the other commands that Majordomo understands. There are several commands there for use by list owners such as yourself, which are not advertised to the public. All of these commands are password-protected on a list-by-list basis, but anyone with a valid list/password combination can invoke these commands. This is not exactly high-tech security, but it’s more intended to keep annoyance to a minimum than to be foolproof.

The “documented” commands which Majordomo understands and which are for everyone to use are:

  • subscribe mylist [address]
  • unsubscribe mylist [address]
  • which [address]
  • who mylist
  • info mylist
  • index mylist
  • get mylist
  • lists
  • help
  • end

You can get detailed explanations of all of these by asking for help from Majordomo (send a message containing just the word help as the message text to

Additional Commands

The “undocumented” commands for use by list owners are:

approve [password] {subscribe|unsubscribe} mylist [address]

This is so that you can approve subscription or unsubscription actions that need approval by the list owner. Note that this is just a standard “subscribe” or “unsubscribe” command prefixed with “approve [password]”.

approve [password] who mylist

This allows you to get the list of addresses for your anonymous list. Without the password, even the list owner can not see who is on the list.

passwd mylist [password] [new_passwd]

This is so you can change the password for your list, if you desire.

newinfo mylist [password]

This is so that you can replace the information file that people get when they do info mylist or subscribe mylist. It reads everything after the “newinfo” command to end-of-message or the word “EOF” on a line by itself as the new info for the list.

config mylist [password]

Retrieves a self-documenting configuration file for the list mylist. The [password] can be the password contained in the file mylist.passwd or the admin_password in the configuration file.

newconfig mylist [password]

Validates and installs a new configuration file. It reads everything after the newconfig” command to end-of-message or the word “EOF” on a line by itself as the new info for the list. The config file is expected to be a complete config file as returned by “config”. Incremental changing of the config file is not yet supported. As soon as the config file is validated and installed its settings are available for use. This is useful to remember if you have multiple commands in your mail message since they will be subject to the settings of the new config file. If there is an error in the config file (incorrect value…), the config file will not be accepted and the error message identifying the problem line(s) will be returned to the sender. Note that only the error messages are returned to the sender not the entire config file, so it would be a good idea to keep a copy of your outgoing email message.

writeconfig mylist [password]

Write a new config file in standard form. Writeconfig forces a rewrite of the config file with all comments and default values in place. It is useful to use after an upgrade of majordomo since it will add the new keywords for people to change. It also updates the documentation in the file if that has changed.