11.4.2. Procmail Recipes

New users often find the construction of recipes the most difficult part of learning to use Procmail. To some extent, this is understandable, as recipes do their message matching using regular expressions, which is a particular format used to specify qualifications for a matching string. However, regular expressions are not very difficult to construct and even less difficult to understand when read. Additionally, the consistency of the way Procmail recipes are written, regardless of regular expressions, makes it easy to learn by example. To see example Procmail recipes, refer to Section 11.4.2.5, “Recipe Examples”.
Procmail recipes take the following form:
:0<flags>: <lockfile-name>

* <special-condition-character> <condition-1>
* <special-condition-character> <condition-2>
* <special-condition-character> <condition-N>

<special-action-character><action-to-perform>
The first two characters in a Procmail recipe are a colon and a zero. Various flags can be placed after the zero to control how Procmail processes the recipe. A colon after the <flags> section specifies that a lockfile is created for this message. If a lockfile is created, the name can be specified by replacing <lockfile-name>.
A recipe can contain several conditions to match against the message. If it has no conditions, every message matches the recipe. Regular expressions are placed in some conditions to facilitate message matching. If multiple conditions are used, they must all match for the action to be performed. Conditions are checked based on the flags set in the recipe's first line. Optional special characters placed after the * character can further control the condition.
The <action-to-perform> specifies the action taken when the message matches one of the conditions. There can only be one action per recipe. In many cases, the name of a mailbox is used here to direct matching messages into that file, effectively sorting the email. Special action characters may also be used before the action is specified. Refer to Section 11.4.2.4, “Special Conditions and Actions” for more information.

11.4.2.1. Delivering vs. Non-Delivering Recipes

The action used if the recipe matches a particular message determines whether it is considered a delivering or non-delivering recipe. A delivering recipe contains an action that writes the message to a file, sends the message to another program, or forwards the message to another email address. A non-delivering recipe covers any other actions, such as a nesting block. A nesting block is a set of actions, contained in braces { }, that are performed on messages which match the recipe's conditions. Nesting blocks can be nested inside one another, providing greater control for identifying and performing actions on messages.
When messages match a delivering recipe, Procmail performs the specified action and stops comparing the message against any other recipes. Messages that match non-delivering recipes continue to be compared against other recipes.