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I would like my mutt e-mail client to run a shell script when I receive an e-mail from a specific sender with a specific subject.

For example, when a message from foo@domain.com appears in my inbox, with a subject line matching "^Alert", mutt should run a script named ~/start-alert-process.sh.

Looking at the folder-hook documentation, I don't see a way to run an external script from mutt. Is there a better, or different, way to have mutt to run shell scripts when particular conditions are met?

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There is no way to do that with mutt. The folder hooks are only triggered if you enter the folder, not when a message arrives in that folder. It's pretty straight forward if you route you mail through maildrop or procmail, though. –  Marco Mar 1 '13 at 20:33
    
Note of course the importance and significant challenges of writing such a script securely, since it would essentially be an open internet server. –  nealmcb May 21 '13 at 16:08

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It seems there's an open and assigned feature request for the mutt dev team to add the ability to run a script when a new message is received:

But as of today, it is not possible.

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