The following commands are listed from most to least important.  However, here is an alphabetical linked list for those in a hurry:








SUBscribe listname <full_name | ANONYMOUS> [WITH option1 [option2] ... [optionN]]

The SUBscribe command is LISTSERV's basic command, issued by users to join mailing lists. This command can also be used to change one's "full_name" field in LISTSERV's SIGNUP database (simply reissue the command with the changed name). Note that the full_name is not required if the user has previously signed up to lists on the same LISTSERV server, or if the user has previously registered in LISTSERV's SIGNUP database by using the REGISTER (q.q.v.) command.

The following syntax:


indicates that the user wishes to join the list anonymously, that is, without specifying a name. The CONCEAL subscription option is automatically set, granting the subscriber the maximal level of protection available.

The following additional syntax:

SUBSCRIBE listname full_name WITH option1 option2 ... optionN

allows you to "preset" subscription options at subscribe time. For instance, you might want to subscribe to MYLIST-L in order to be able to search its archives, but don't want to receive postings. You would use the command


Or you might want to receive individual postings with the SUBJecthdr option and receive copies of your own postings instead of the standard acknowledgement that your message was distributed to the list:



QUIET SUBSCRIBE listname full_name WITH option1 option2 ... optionN

suppresses the command response normally sent by LISTSERV that looks like this:

You have been added to the MYLIST-L list.

JOIN listname <full_name | ANONYMOUS> [WITH option1 [option2] ... [optionN]]

JOIN is a synonym for SUBscribe.

SIGNOFF listname | * | * (NETWIDE

The SIGNOFF command allows the user to cancel his or her subscription to lists.

SIGNOFF requires a qualifying parameter, as follows:


Sign off of the specified list


Sign off of all lists on that server


Sign off of all lists in the LISTSERV network

The "* (NETWIDE" parameter causes the LISTSERV server to forward a copy of the signoff request to all other registered LISTSERV servers. This is a good option for a user who is changing service providers or otherwise losing a specific address that will not be forwarded.

Note:  The (NETWIDE parameter will NOT remove the user from non-LISTSERV lists or from LISTSERV lists running on non-registered sites. It will also not work if the server to which you issue it is running in STANDALONE runmode.

LISTSERV will attempt to sign off the address it finds in the RFC822 "From:" line and will not "fuzzy match" for "similar" addresses. The single exception is when the hostname part of the address is aliased to another hostname in LISTSERV's centrally-maintained ALIASES NAMES file.

UNSUBscribe listname | * | * (NETWIDE

UNSUBscribe is a synonym for SIGNOFF.

CHANGE <listname | *> newaddr

This form of the CHANGE command can be used by any subscriber. It must be sent from the currently-subscribed address and results in an OK confirmation request being sent back to that address. This request then MUST be confirmed by the currently-subscribed address, exactly as it was entered, or the command will fail. This is the only case where a LISTSERV OK cookie must be confirmed by a specific address.

Note that this assumes that the user still has login access to both addresses, or at least the ability to send mail from the old address.

SET listname option1 [option2] ... [optionN]

Allows the user to change his or her subscription options without administrative intervention. The options available to be changed are as follows:

      • ACK – A mail message acknowledging the receipt and distribution of the user's posting is sent back to the user.
      • NOACK No posting acknowledgement is sent. In general, this setting should only be used if the user has also set himself to REPRO, as it is desirable in most cases that some indication of whether or not the posting was received by LISTSERV be sent.
      • MSGack (Obsolete) An interactive message is sent to acknowledge receipt and distribution. Note that this works only if both the machine running LISTSERV and the user's machine have NJE connectivity (e.g., BITNET). If NJE connectivity is not available on both ends, this option is effectively the same as NOACK.
      • CONCEAL Allows the user to be concealed from the REVIEW command. Note that the list owner or LISTSERV maintainer can always get the complete list of subscribers, regardless of this setting.
      • NOCONCEAL "Unhides" the user.
      • Files/NOFiles (Obsolete) These options toggle the receipt of non-mail files from the list. Note that this is NJE-specific, and thus obsolete for systems without NJE connectivity, but retained for compatibility.
      • Mail/NOMail – These options toggle the receipt of mail from the list. Users who will be away from their mail for an extended period of time may prefer to simply turn the mail off rather than to unsubscribe, particularly if subscription to the list is restricted in some way.

Note:  For backward compatibility, the command SET listname MAIL sent by a user who is set to DIGEST but not also set to NOMAIL will cause the user to be set to NODIGEST (the behavior is identical for users set to INDEX but not to NOMAIL). SET listname MAIL sent by users set to DIGEST/NOMAIL or INDEX/NOMAIL will simply remove the NOMAIL setting and leave the user set to DIGEST or INDEX as the case may be.

      • DIGests/INDex/NODIGests/NOINDex These options change the format in which list mail is received by the subscriber. DIGEST turns on digest mode, in which the subscriber receives a digest of postings at set times dependent on how the "Digest=" keyword of the list is set. INDEX turns on index mode, in which the subscriber receives a daily listing of subjects posted to the list, from which he or she may order postings of interest. NODIGEST and NOINDEX toggle the mode back to individual postings sent as received by LISTSERV. Note that these options are interrelated; setting one will negate another.
      • REPro/NOREPro Causes LISTSERV to send you a copy of your own postings as they are distributed. Some users may prefer this behavior to the ACK option (see above).
      • MIME/NOMIME – Toggles MIME options on and off. Currently only digests are available in MIME format. If DIGEST mode is set, the user will receive a MIME digest instead of the regular plain-text digest. Note that you must have a mail client that supports MIME digests (Pegasus is one that does) or this setting will do you little good. This option is automatically set at subscribe time for users who send their subscription command using a MIME-compliant agent, unless "Default-Options= NOMIME" is specified for the list.
      • HTML/NOHTML – Toggle the HTML function for digests and indexes on and off.
      • TOPICS: ALL | [+/-]topicname – For lists with topics enabled (see the Topics= list header keyword), subscribe or unsubscribe to topics. For instance, if a list has topics SUPPORT and CHAT, a user could subscribe to CHAT by sending SET TOPICS +CHAT. Or the user could unsubscribe to SUPPORT by sending SET TOPICS -SUPPORT. Finally, the user can subscribe to all available topics by sending SET TOPICS ALL.

Options for mail headers of incoming postings (choose one):

      • FULLhdr "Full" mail headers, (default) containing all of the routing information.
      • IETFhdr Internet-style headers.
      • SUBJecthdr – "Full" mail headers (like the default) except that setting this option tells LISTSERV to add the list's default subject tag to the subject line of mail coming from the list. (See the listing in the List Keyword Reference document for "Subject-Tag=" for more information.) Note that if the user is set to SHORThdr (or any other header option other than FULLhdr), LISTSERV will automatically switch the user to FULLhdr, as subject tags require full headers. A subject tag is generated (for subscribers with the SUBJecthdr option set) even if the original message had no "Subject:" header. To turn the subject tagging off, the user simply sends a new SET command with any of the other header options (e.g., SET listname FULLhdr) and the SUBJecthdr option is reset.
      • SHORThdr (Obsolete) Short headers (only basic information about the message -- Date, From, Subject, To -- is preserved). Setting SHORThdr will break MIME-encoded messages, so it should be used only on lists where MIME and HTML messages are not allowed.
      • DUALhdr – (Obsolete) Dual short headers, useful with older (and mostly obsolete) mail programs which do not preserve the RFC822 return email address. Same caveat as with SHORThdr.
      • FULL822 – (Obsolete) Essentially the same as "full" mail headers, but with the important difference that the recipient's email address is specified in the "To:" line rather than the address of the list. "FULL822" headers should be used with extreme caution, as they cause LISTSERV to create a separate mail envelope with a single RFC821 RCPT TO: for each address so set. This behavior can significantly affect the performance of both LISTSERV and of your external mail system.
      • SHORT822 – (Obsolete) Essentially the same as "short" mail headers, with the same caveats as noted for FULL822.

Warning:  FULL822 and SHORT822 headers should only be used if a specific problem indicates that they might solve the problem. One possible use would be to determine which subscriber from a specific site is causing the site to throw back delivery errors if that site does not specify which RCPT TO: is generating the error. These headers should NEVER be used by default.

Documented Restriction: The use of the SHORTHDR or DUALHDR options will break messages that depend on MIME encoding, because these options strip the RFC822 headers that identify the message as a MIME message. SHORTHDR and DUALHDR were designed for the non-MIME mail clients which prevailed in LISTSERV's early history. As most mail clients today support MIME, the use of these options is now deprecated.

CONFIRM listname1 [listname2]...[listnameN]

The CONFIRM command should be issued when LISTSERV requests it. A request for CONFIRM should not be confused with a "command confirmation request" which requires an "OK" response. The CONFIRM command is used in two cases:

    • When the list in question requires periodic subscription renewals (controlled by the Renewal= keyword). In this case, the amount of time between the request for confirmation and termination of the subscription is controlled by the Delay() parameter of the Renewal= keyword; the default is seven days.
    • When LISTSERV's automatic address probing function fails and you receive a message to that effect. The response time is controlled by the settings of the Auto-Delete= keyword for the list in question.