As a result of a long-running cron job, I have over 1,000 messages in my user's mailbox. What's the easiest way to delete them?

2 Answers 2


If you want to delete all the messages, you can simply truncate the mailbox file for a user with the following command:

> /var/mail/username

(the greater than sign is not a prompt: you are in effect redirecting the output of nothing to the file, which will truncate it).


Run mail in a terminal. Press d 1-. This will delete those messages.

Removing files for managing mail is like adjust the volume of your tv with a hammer. It may work, but it is not optimal and far too brutal.

  • 1
    This is the correct answer. It also allows deleting just some emails, if it's unclear from the command. E.g. d 1-100 will delete the first 100 email messages.
    – texnic
    May 20, 2017 at 7:19
  • 1
    I had to install mailutils and then use d * on Ubuntu 12.04 Jul 22, 2019 at 3:19
  • It was d * on centos 8 after installing mailx
    – james-see
    Jun 21, 2021 at 20:25
  • When I type mail, I get the message "No mail for <user>" and cannot access the mail console Dec 4, 2022 at 14:43
  • @AisteruFirë What are you attempting to do? I have a feeling that you should ask a new question, where you explain in some more detail, because you probably don't want to delete mail.
    – vidarlo
    Dec 4, 2022 at 14:47

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