How to get rid of the “You have mail” message in your terminal

Have you ever opened up your terminal in OS X and seen this message in your prompt?

Last login: Tue Sep  5 13:52:44 on ttys008
You have mail.

What mail? Where?

Your computer has a simple mail system that it has set up that can, on occasion, try to send you messages. This can happen when you try to set up a development site with a tool such as MAMP, or you try setting up a chron job, among other things.

The point is that somewhere along the way something in your system wanted to notify you about … something. Now, this isn’t an email, per se. So, don’t think this was sent to an email address or something.

Solution one: delete all messages via command line mail

You can get rid of this message by deleting all of your mail. You can do that by entering the mail command line app. Enter:


And you should see a series of messages, something like:

Mail version 8.1 6/6/93.  Type ? for help.
"/var/mail/chip": 1 message 1 new
>N  1 chip@\****.loc  Tue Sep  5 16:00  21/707   "Cron <chip@\***"

Enter the delete all command:

d *

Then, and this is the part you don’t often see, to make your changes stick, enter the quit command:


That should clear up that message.

Solution two: empty your mail log file

You can also either wipe out or delete the mail log file, which is found in the /var/mail folder.

sudo rm /var/mail/[user]

Other useful commands

To open a particular message, simply enter the corresponding number:


To re-list all of the messages again: