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Email discussion lists for the UK Education and Research communities

Owner Commands

These are the most commonly used LISTSERV® commands for owners. Each command listed is followed by its syntax - angled brackets indicate a required parameter and square brackets an optional parameter. To issue a command via email, send an email to with no subject and the command in the body of the email.

Please also see subscriber commands.


Command Syntax: [QUIET] ADD <groupname> <address> [full name]
[QUIET] ADD <groupname> DD=ddname IMPORT

More Details: Add users to one of your groups. The word QUIET, when placed before the command, stops any confirmations being sent out.

Example 1:

ADD jiscmail-newsletter Joe Bloggs - Adds Joe Bloggs to the 'jiscmail-newsletter' group with the email address ''. A confirmation message would be sent to him.

Example 2:

QUIET ADD jiscmail-newsletter DD=ddname IMPORT
//ddname DD * Joe Bloggs John Smith 

This is what's known as a 'Bulk Add'. In this case, 2 subscribers are added to the 'jiscmail-newsletter' without sending them a confirmation.


Command Syntax: [QUIET] DEL <groupname> <address>
[QUIET] DEL <groupname> DD=ddname

More Details: Delete users from one of your groups. The word QUIET, when placed before the command, stops any confirmations being sent out.

Example 1:

DEL jiscmail-newsletter

Removes '' from the 'jiscmail-newsletter' group and sends him a confirmation.

Example 2:

QUIET DEL jiscmail-newsletter DD=ddname 
//ddname DD *

This is what's known as a 'Bulk Delete'. In this case, 2 subscribers are removed from the 'jiscmail-newsletter' without sending them a confirmation.


Command Syntax: GET <groupname> (HEADER

More Details: Gets the specified group header to enable a group owner to view or change the list configuration. Note: This command locks the list header until either it is replaced using the PUT command, or the UNLOCK command is issued.

Example 1:

GET jiscmail-newsletter (HEADER

Get the 'jiscmail-newsletter' list header.


Command Syntax: PUT <groupname> GROUP PW=<password>

More Details: Replaces the specified list header. The password is your LISTSERV® password, registered via the web interface or with the PW command. Note: When you perform a GET command the header is sent to you in the correct format for a subsequent PUT. It is therefore strongly recommended that you copy the contents of that email into a new email and amend the relevant parts from there.

Example 1:

PUT jiscmail-newsletter GROUP PW=waterfall
* header line 1
* header line 2
* etc

Replaces the 'jiscmail-newsletter' list header where your LISTSERV® password is 'waterfall'.


Command Syntax: UNLOCK <groupname>

More Details: Unlocks the specified list header that was locked by a previous GET command.

Example 1:

UNLOCK jiscmail-newsletter Unlocks the 'jiscmail-newsletter' list header.


Command Syntax: HOLD <groupname

More Details: Holds (freezes) a group, preventing new postings from being processed until a FREE command is sent. This can be useful if you want to stop postings being delivered to the group while investigating a problem.

Example 1:

HOLD jiscmail-newsletter Holds the group 'jiscmail-newsletter'.


Command Syntax: FREE <groupname>

More Details: Frees a group that has been held by the HOLD command or by LISTSERV®.

Example 1:

FREE jiscmail-newsletter Frees the group 'jiscmail-newsletter'.



Command Syntax: INDEX <groupname>

More Details: Returns a list of available files and archives for the specified group.

Example 1:

INDEX jiscmail-newsletter Returns index for 'jiscmail-newsletter'.


Command Syntax: GET [<groupname>\]<file name>

More Details: Retrieve a file or achive.

Example 1:

GET jiscmail-newsletter\minutes.txt

Request a file called 'minutes.txt' belonging to 'jiscmail-newsletter'.

Example 2:

GET jiscmail-newsletter.log0210 Requests the February 2010 archive file for the 'jiscmail-newsletter' group.


Command Syntax: PUT <file name> <groupname> PW=<password>

More Details: Update a file or achive.

Example 1:

PUT minutes.txt jiscmail-newsletter PW=waterfall

Replace the file 'minutes.txt' belonging to the 'jiscmail-newsletter'. Note: The first line of the email must contain the PUT command and the subsequent lines are the actual lines that will appear in the file you are updating.


Command Syntax: SEARCH <groupname> <word1> [word2 etc] [more options below]

More Details: Search a group's message archives.

Example 1:

SEARCH jiscmail-newsletter constable turner - Searches the archives of 'jiscmail-newsletter' for the words 'constable' & 'turner'


Additional options can be appended to the above syntax in many combinations. These are:

FROM date1 TO date2 Between and including the specified dates, eg:
FROM 01/10/2002 TO 01/11/2002
FROM TODAY Search only today's posts
FROM TODAY-7 Search in the last 7 days
WHERE SUBJECT CONTAINS xxxxx Match where subjects contains 'xxxxx'
WHERE SENDER CONTAINS xxxxx Match where sender contains 'xxxxx'
AND/OR Can be used to separate multiple WHERE conditions



Command Syntax: PW ADD <password>
PW CHANGE newpassword PW=oldpassword

More Details: Registers a new, or changes an existing, LISTSERV® password, registered against your email address.

Example 1:

PW ADD waterfall - Registers the new password 'waterfall'.

Example 2:

PW CHANGE eclipse PW=waterfall - Changes your existing 'waterfall' password to 'eclipse'.


Command Syntax: REVIEW <groupname>

More Details: Returns a list of subscribers on the specified group.

Example 1:

REVIEW jiscmail-newsletter - Reveals the subscribership of 'jiscmail-newsletter'.


Command Syntax: LISTS

More Details: Returns a list of non-confidential lists on the JISCMail service.

The full LISTSERV documentation on commands can be viewed in the LSoft manual here.