When I add a mailto link with C-c C-l, the closing > is missing.

If I enter:

mailto:Apa <[email protected]>

Leaving the description blank, I get a link like

mailto:Apa <[email protected]

If I end with >>, the link is correct. If I enter it with markup like below, it works.

[[mailto:Apa <[email protected]>]]

This comes from the following snippet of org-insert-link (Emacs 24.4.1)

(if (and (string-match org-plain-link-re link)
         (not (string-match org-ts-regexp link)))
    ;; URL-like link, normalize the use of angular brackets.
    (setq link (org-remove-angle-brackets link)))

So modifying org-plain-link-re or org-ts-regexp is one way to achieve this. These are pretty impressive expressions, which looks a bit intimidating to touch.

I understand that <> tags are used by org, and this is the likely reason for these types of mail links not getting treated like one would naively think, but I also can't believe I'm the only one that uses addresses of this type.

So has anyone tweaked emacs org to accept this, or is it a bug, or is this address format considered evil?

  • I think this sounds like a bug. This should work out of the box.
    – erikstokes
    May 27, 2015 at 23:04

2 Answers 2


Since org-remove-angle-brackets is responsable for actually striping the "<>" from the link, we can fix this by adding some advice saying that if the link starts with "mailto:", just return the link, otherwise do whatever the original function does.

(advice-add #'org-remove-angle-brackets :before-until
            (lambda (s) (if (string-prefix-p "mailto:" s) s)))
  • Works like a charm! Maybe I'll gather some courage and report it as a bug... May 28, 2015 at 8:38

It's expecting a URL, and ' ' (space), <> (angle brackets), " (double quotes) are not valid characters in a URL, and so must be encoded.

  • ' ' becomes %20
  • " becomes %22
  • < becomes %3c
  • > becomes %3e

So, the email address:

Apa <[email protected]>

is expressed as a URL like this:

mailto:%22Apa%22%20%[email protected]%3e

which is a chore to write.

Ideally, Emacs would check whether the entered link uses the mailto: URL scheme and encode the special characters for you. In the meantime, perhaps some advice?

  • Tried to find some info about what format it does expect, but didn't find much. The info page shows an example with a simple address. Cheers for the info, the advice from @erikstokes does the trick. May 28, 2015 at 13:25

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