mu_cfind - find and export contacts in the mu database


mu cfind [options] [<pattern>]


mu cfind is the mu command for finding contacts (name and e-mail address of people who were either an e-mail’s sender or receiver). There are different output formats available, for importing the contacts into other programs.


When you index your messages (see mu index), mu creates a list of unique e-mail addresses found and the accompanying name, and caches this list. In case the same e-mail address is used with different names, the most recent non-empty name is used.

mu cfind starts a search for contacts that match a regular expression. For example:

$ mu cfind ’’

would find all contacts with a gmail-address, while

$ mu cfind Mary

lists all contacts with Mary in either name or e-mail address.

If you do not specify a search expression, mu cfind returns the full list of contacts. Note, mu cfind uses a cache with the e-mail information, which is populated during the indexing process.

The regular expressions are Perl-compatible (as per the PCRE-library used by GRegex).



sets the output format to the given value. The following are available:

| --format= | description |
| plain | default, simple list |
| mutt-alias | mutt alias-format |
| mutt-ab | mutt external address book format |
| wl | wanderlust addressbook format |
| org-contact | org-mode org-contact format |
| bbdb | BBDB format |

| csv | comma-separated values (*)


(*) CSV is not fully standardized, but mu cfind follows some common practices: any double-quote is replaced by a double-double quote (thus, "hello" become ""hello"", and fields with commas are put in double-quotes. Normally, this should only apply to name fields.

--personal only show addresses seen in messages where one of ’my’

addresses was seen in one of the address fields; this is to exclude addresses only seen in mailing-list messages. See the --my-address parameter in mu index.

--after=<timestamp> only show addresses last seen after

<timestamp>. <timestamp> is a UNIX time_t value, the number of seconds since 1970-01-01 (in UTC).

From the command line, you can use the date command to get this value. For example, only consider addresses last seen after 2009-06-01, you could specify
--after=’date +%s --date=’2009-06-01’’


mu cfind returns 0 upon successful completion -- that is, at least one contact was found. Anything else leads to a non-zero return value:

| code | meaning |
| 0 | ok |
| 1 | general error |
| 2 | no matches (for ’mu cfind’) |


You can use mu cfind as an external address book server for mutt. For this to work, add the following to your muttrc:

set query_command = "mu cfind --format=mutt-ab ’%s’"

Now, in mutt, you can search for e-mail addresses using the query-command, which is (by default) accessible by pressing Q.


mu cfind output is encoded according to the current locale except for --format=bbdb. This is hard-coded to UTF-8, and as such specified in the output-file, so emacs/bbdb can handle things correctly, without guessing.


Please report bugs if you find them at


Dirk-Jan C. Binnema <djcb [AT]>


mu(1), mu-index(1), mu-find(1), pcrepattern(3)