I would like to edit e-mail messages without the header (!) in message mode. If I open a file in message mode and it does not have the usual e-mail headers, then M-q filling does not work as I discovered in this question. In that question I learned that the header separator can be customized, but what if there is no header and no header separator at all?

I understand that sending the mail will not work without this header, but I send the mail on a different route. Actually, this is part of trying to use Emacs as the external editor for MailMate which works fine, except that I have not found a mode in which I can edit e-mail with font-locking for quote depth etc. Probably this should be a minor mode for editing e-mail which does not exist yet. notmuch-mode, mu4e-mode and org-msg all seem to be based on message mode and behave the same wrt. the header.

So is it possible to use message mode without a header?

  • I already tried to set the variable mail-header-separator to an empty string or just a space. This does not work. Dec 5 '20 at 19:31

So is it possible to use message mode without a header?

Would narrowing to the body work in your use case? See (info "(emacs) Narrowing"). For example, you could C-c C-b (message-goto-body), C-SPC (set-mark-command), M-> (end-of-buffer), C-x n n (narrow-to-region). To undo the narrowing, you could C-x n w (widen).

Here's a command that does this in one go:

(defun my-message-narrow-to-body ()
  "Narrow buffer to Message body."
  (narrow-to-region (save-excursion (message-goto-body) (point))
  • If I understand correctly, this does something else. I have a buffer with just the content of the e-mail, no header. (message-goto-body) takes me to the beginning of the buffer, then the narrowing is a no-op. The function message-fill-paragraph will behave as if I'm in the header because I am before the header separator (which never appears in the buffer). Dec 5 '20 at 19:26
  • Ah, I was thinking of the case where the headers are still there, but you can hide them by narrowing. I don't know why you would want or expect a major mode to work outside of its intended context.
    – Basil
    Dec 5 '20 at 22:11
  • I don’t know of any minor mode to do what I want: Be like message mode when editing the body. There is org-msg minor mode which I just discovered and I will have to try. Dec 6 '20 at 7:37

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