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3.5.4 Composing Mail

You can compose the message by simply typing the contents of it, line by line. But usually this is not enough, you would need to edit your text, to quote some messages, etc. Mail provides these capabilities through compose escapes. The compose escapes are single-character commands, preceded by special escape character, which defaults to ‘~’. The combination escape character + command is recognized as a compose escape only if it occurs at the beginning of a line and the standard input is connected to a terminal. If the escape character must appear at the beginning of a line, enter it twice.

The actual escape character may be changed by setting the value of escape mail variable (see Mail Variables).