Mailcrypt is an Emacs Lisp package which provides a simple interface to public key cryptography with PGP [and now GnuPG!]. Mailcrypt makes strong cryptography a fully integrated part of your normal mail and news handling environment, and is an important part of a balanced breakfast.
-- The Original Mailcrypt Page


Mailcrypt is an Emacs interface to PGP and GnuPG which allows seamless integration of cryptography and internet usage. It can be used to sign and encrypt mail, to sign usenet articles, and to verify/decrypt mail and articles. It was written by Jin Choi and Pat LoPresti Mailcrypt 3.4 has been stable since 1995, and was the only PGP interface I used.

Unfortunately, Phil Zimmerman released a new and improved PGP late in 1997. Changes to the command-line interface broke Mailcrypt. Thus the need for a new version of Mailcrypt.

Much more importantly, the GNU replacement for PGP has become stable. GnuPG is compatible with PGP 5.0 and higher, and it works better (for example, unlike PGP, its batch mode works). Upgrading Mailcrypt to handle multiple backends makes it possible to pick and choose your encryption software. I recommend GnuPG.

Download Mailcrypt

Mailcrypt was last updated on Monday, September 26, 2002. The latest version is 3.5.8.

The current version of Mailcrypt is 3.5.8. It includes code to interface to the Mew email client, and updates to handle interface changes in GPG 1.0.5. It has been tested against GPG 1.2.0. You can look at the announcement or the ChangeLog for more information. It is signed by Brian Warner's current public key.

You can also browse the CVS Repository (via viewcvs), or learn how to check out a copy of the latest tree here.

Important features

Thanks to Paul Koning, key fetching includes the hkp protocol! Now PGP5 keys can be fetched directly from within Emacs! In fact, I like the results better than fetching with PGP itself; Mailcrypt fethces exactly the key you need, where PGP is not sufficiently selective.

Thanks to Loren Rittle, Mailcrypt supports key fetching in PGP 5.0 mode! Loren's version supports finger- and http-based key fetching.

Thanks to Brian Warner, Mailcrypt now supports GnuPG! The support appears to be feature-complete, with the exception of key fetching. Of course, there aren't any GnuPG keyservers, yet, so that's excusable.

Mailcrypt Contributors

The Mailcrypt family is growing by leaps and bounds. Folks who have helped out with fixes and suggestions are too numerous to list anymore, and include:

Much thanks to for patches and bug reports to Jari Aalto, Sergio Antoy, Adam Beck, Michael Bergbauer, Robert Bihlmeyer, Dean Bullock, Janet Casey, Fabien Coelho, Kevin Davidson, Ulrik Dickow, Gunnar Evermann, Peter Galbraith, Juan Leon Lahoz Garcia, Aaron Gross, Javier Henderson, Markku Kolkka, Jonas Linde, Dave Love, David Maslen, Eric Newton, Loren Rittle, Tony Silva, Tim Steele, Greg Steuck, Steven T. Smith, Greg Troxel, Brian Warner, Roger Williams, Bill Wohler, Alexander Zangerl, and many others.

Things to Do

If you want your name in lights (or want to remain anonymous, yet deserving of great praise), then maybe you'd like to adopt part of Mailcrypt! There is still plenty to do. Some of the more pressing needs include:

We're Official!

Thanks to some detective work by Tony Silva, Pat LoPresti has been found. Since Pat is busy being gainfully employed, he has knighted this project the "official" Mailcrypt maintainer. In a recent email, Pat wrote:

I would be most happy to "bless" Len as the official maintainer of Mailcrypt. I have been telling myself (for two years...) that I would get up and work on it again at some point, but it is fairly clear that I just won't find the time in the near future.

Pat is still sponsoring the Mailcrypt update mailing list, and its address appears in the README for the current release.

Thanks to another email tip, Jin Choi has been found as well. Rather than taking this off our hands, he offered us some kind words. Like Pat, it seems Jin is cursed with gainful employ.



There are a few mailing lists dedicated to mailcrypt. The mailcrypt-announce list is a low-volume announcements-only list, used whenever a new version is released. mailcrypt-bugs is a more general-purpose list for reporting bugs, talking about new features, and other development issues. To subscribe or search the archives, look to the SourceForge mailing list page.

Patches, bugs, complaints, free beer, etc, can also go to Len Budney Mail about the GPG support in Mailcrypt should go to Brian Warner <>.

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Len Budney
Copyright © 1998
Brian Warner <>
Last modified: Thu Sep 26 01:19:49 PDT 2002