12 The Speedbar

You can also use the speedbar (see the section Speedbar Frames in The GNU Emacs Manual) to view your folders. To bring up the speedbar, run M-x speedbar RET. You will see a new frame appear with all of your MH folders. Folders with unseen messages appear in boldface. Click on a folder name with mouse-2 to visit that folder in a similar fashion to the command F v (mh-visit-folder) (see Organizing Your Mail with Folders). Click on the ‘+’ icon to expand and view the sub-folders of that folder.

The speedbar can be manipulated with the keyboard as well. Use the Emacs navigational keys (like the arrow keys, or C-n) to move the cursor over the desired folder and then use the shortcuts for the menu items listed in the table below.

Visit Folder’ (RET)

Visits the selected folder just as if you had used F v (mh-speed-view).

Expand Nested Folders’ (+)

Expands the selected folder in the speedbar, exposing the children folders inside it (mh-speed-expand-folder).

Contract Nested Folders’ (-)

Contracts or collapses the selected folder in the speedbar, hiding the children folders inside it (mh-speed-contract-folder).

Refresh Speedbar’ (r)

Regenerates the list of folders in the speedbar. Run this command if you’ve added or deleted a folder, or want to update the unseen message count before the next automatic update (mh-speed-refresh).

You can click on mouse-3 to bring up a context menu that contains these items. Dismiss the speedbar with C-x 5 0 (delete-frame).

The MH-E speedbar uses the MH command flists47 to generate the list of folders. The ‘mh-speedbar’ customization group contains the following option which controls how often the speedbar calls flists.


Time between speedbar updates in seconds (default: 60). Set to 0 to disable automatic update.

You can modify the appearance of the folders in the speedbar by customizing the following faces.


Basic folder face.


Folder face when folder contains unread messages.


Selected folder face.


Selected folder face when folder contains unread messages.



See the section Searching for Sequences with flist in the MH book.