I tried to customize Wanderlust's summary buffer by changing wl-summary-line-format. I would like to see the age of a message in the summary buffer. But I can not find any abbreviation for the age of a message.

In Gnus it was possible to define a gnus-user-format-function-x, which could be referenced in the gnus-summary-line-format. But I can not find anything similar in Wanderlust.

How to show the age of a message in the summary buffer?

  • Describe variable wl-summary-line-format and that gives you a list of what's available. If it's not there, then you would need to implement the feature or do without. My preference is to use: (setq wl-summary-line-format "%T%P [%5(%c %S%) %] %M/%D/%Y (%W) %h:%m %t%[%25(%c %f%) %] [%75(%c %s%)] %n")
    – lawlist
    Commented Dec 7, 2014 at 19:05
  • @lawlist Is there somewhere the age in it?
    – ceving
    Commented Dec 7, 2014 at 19:19
  • I'm sorry, but I don't really know what age is -- I rely on the dates a message was sent, and I sort automatically with the newest messages at the top of the buffer. The word age is nowhere to be found within the source file wl-vars.el If you haven't done so already, type: M-x describe-variable RET wl-summary-line-format RET and read the doc-string of available options.
    – lawlist
    Commented Dec 7, 2014 at 19:35
  • age is the time from now till the time the message has been send. For example "one hour ago", "yesterday", "last week", "two years ago".
    – ceving
    Commented Dec 7, 2014 at 20:53
  • Ah . . Thank you. Someone would need to implement that feature for you, or you would need to write it yourself -- it does not presently exist.
    – lawlist
    Commented Dec 7, 2014 at 20:55

1 Answer 1


You'll have to write the wl-summary-line-age function yourself, but the way to add a new summary line format string, e.g. %a is to use:

(defun wl-summary-line-age ()
  ... some magic with the wl-datevec variable (see wl-summary-line-year, etc.)

(setq wl-summary-line-format-spec-alist
      (put-alist '?a

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