I set up a cronjob a long time ago that now doesn't exist. Whenever I open up Terminal, it now says "You have mail". I have something like 100 messages that all say the same thing. How do I mass delete all of the messages?

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    I wasn't even aware an MTA was built into OS X. Though now that I think about it, frankly I'm not surprised. – Jason Salaz Oct 21 '11 at 22:48
  • @JasonSalaz I forgot to ask you, what's an MTA? – daviesgeek Feb 1 '12 at 2:47
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    Mail Transfer Agent. When in doubt, Wikipedia. I know of, at least, MTAs, MSAs, MDAs, and MUAs. – Jason Salaz Feb 1 '12 at 4:27

Launch the UNIX mail utility by running this at the command prompt (in e.g. Terminal.app):

$ mail

You'll see a list of all your messages. From the mail prompt, do

? delete *
? q

And that should be it. Make sure do to the q after the delete * command, that saves the changes to disk.

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  • At first I didn't know what mail app mean. To anyone who is having same trouble, "It is a command". Just go type it in terminal and you will get an interactive app running there. +1 Thank you – Nabin Mar 18 '17 at 12:15
  • You can use del 1 where 1 is the message number too in case you need to keep some email for debugging purposes. – Fadli Saad Jan 27 '19 at 7:31
  • kept following other answers but used exit to quit and would not work. Thanks for mentioning the q option. – frezq Aug 24 '19 at 1:21

You may also go the direct route and just run : > /var/mail/$USER to empty the mail file.

PS: Deleting the mail file requires sudo, just setting it to empty is enough.

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I know this post is old, but I want to contribute with an answer.

to delete your mail messages do the following:

sudo rm /var/mail/[user]

And in order to the question, I suggest you do the following to each crontab you do not want to send an email notification (this way your mail will not have mails)

* * * * * /path/to/script.sh > /dev/null 2>&1


* * * * * command > /dev/null 2>&1
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I want to reinforce clearly one point how command [delete *],[q] really helped me out in this case.

I set a cron job to run like every day in 2018 (if I recall correctly) and forgot about it.

Now I realized to check and I discovered 3000 messages in my mailbox! Note to others that a quick edit can pile up reports rapidly.

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