Bbdb Save

Big Brother DataBase

Project README

Copyright (C) 2010-2023 Free Software Foundation, Inc. See the end of the file for license conditions.

BBDB is the Insidious Big Brother Database for GNU Emacs. It provides an address book for email and snail mail addresses, phone numbers and the like. It can be linked with various Emacs mail clients (Message and Mail mode, Rmail, Gnus, MH-E, Mu4e, VM, Notmuch, and Wanderlust). BBDB is fully customizable.

BBDB is available at To install this package, run in Emacs: M-x package-install RET bbdb RET

BBDB is also available at To check it out, use git clone

Questions, comments, suggestions, and bug reports may be directed to the BBDB mailing list at [email protected]. To subscribe to this list, go to

================================================================== Installation:

To install this package from GNU ELPA, run in Emacs:

M-x package-install RET bbdb RET

To compile and install BBDB from Savannah with `make' (see also the generic file INSTALL):

  1. (BBDB development version only)

    Configure the configure process:

    Run' in the top directory of the BBDB code. This creates the configure' script required for step 1).

  2. Configure the build process:

    Run the `configure' script in the top directory of the BBDB code. This performs a number of checks on your system and generates the Makefiles accordingly. You need at least GNU Emacs 24.

    The `configure' script comes with various options:

    `--with-mu4e-dir=DIR' specifies the path where Mu4e can be found. Without this option the resulting BBDB build does not support Mu4e.

    `--with-vm-dir=DIR' specifies the path where VM can be found. Without this option the resulting BBDB build does not support VM.

    `--with-wl-dir=DIR' specifies the path where Wanderlust can be found. Without this option the resulting BBDB build does not support WL.

    `--with-notmuch-dir=DIR' specifies the path where Notmuch can be found. Without this option the resulting BBDB build does not support Notmuch.

    `--with-lispdir=DIR' specifies where to install the lisp files.

    Use `configure --help' to see all available options.

  3. Build BBDB:

    To build BBDB type 'make'.

    If you use the BBDB development version, but you do not have autoconf, go to the lisp directory and type 'make --makefile=./makefile-temp'.

  4. Install BBDB:

    To install BBDB type `make install'. This installs all files in their usual system directories. You can override these defaults via respective options for the configure script.

    The TeX files in the ./tex directory are installed in ${datadir} which defaults to /usr/local/share/bbdb/. These files are only used by BBDB. They need not be known to your local TeX installation. See the user variable bbdb-tex-path below.

    `make install' is not required to run BBDB.

  5. Activate BBDB:

    i) If the BBDB lisp files are in a directory "/path/to/bbdb/lisp" you can use in your Emacs init file

     (require 'bbdb-loaddefs "/path/to/bbdb/lisp/bbdb-loaddefs.el")
     This adds "/path/to/bbdb/lisp" to the load-path; so it is all
     you need to make BBDB known to Emacs.

    ii) The user variable bbdb-tex-path should point to the directory where the BBDB TeX files reside (default /usr/local/share/bbdb).

=============================================================================== Usage notes

BBDB 3 is the first release of BBDB after a long time. Up to BBDB 3.1.2 it requires GNU Emacs 23 or newer. More recent versions require GNU Emacs 24 or newer.

The code of BBDB 3 is still under development. While it should work reliably, users of previous versions of BBDB are advised that the format of the BBDB database file has changed. Migration to the new format should happen automatically. Yet it is recommended to make a copy of the old file, in case something unexpected happens or you might want to go back.

As compared with BBDB 2.xx, many variables, functions, and commands have changed in BBDB 3. Most likely you will have to review your customizations carefully. You may want to call bbdb-undocumented-variables to identify outdated (i.e., now usually undocumented) variables in your init file. Those upgrading from BBDB 2.xx may also find this Emacs wiki page helpful: All user variables for the core of BBDB 3 are listed at the beginning of bbdb.el. Some extensions of BBDB 3 define their user variables at the beginning of the respective files.

Generally the default values for user variables are chosen such that they make BBDB the least aggressive. You can customize this behavior in many ways. See below for an overview.

The BBDB info manual is still awaiting a more complete overhaul.

BBDB interface with mail user agents (MUAs)

BBDB can interface with various mail user agents (MUAs). These include Rmail, Gnus, VM, MH-E, Mu4e, Notmuch, Wanderlust, Message and Mail mode. This lets you

  • display the BBDB records for the sender and/or recipients of a message you are viewing

  • create or update the BBDB records for the sender and/or recipients of a message

  • add annotations to the BBDB records for the sender and/or recipients of a message

There are two ways for BBDB to interface with MUAs:

Interactive commands

Call bbdb-initialize (usually in your init file) to initialize the MUA interfaces based on interactive commands.

MUA commands include

bbdb-mua-display-records, bbdb-mua-display-sender, bbdb-mua-display-recipients bbdb-annotate-record, bbdb-mua-annotate-sender, bbdb-mua-annotate-recipients bbdb-mua-edit-field, bbdb-mua-edit-field-sender, bbdb-mua-edit-field-recipients

These MUA commands operate either on existing records only. Or they can also create new records.

All these commands are controlled by bbdb-mua-interactive-action. This is a cons pair (WITHOUT-PREFIX . WITH-PREFIX). The car is used if the command is called without a prefix. The cdr is used if the command is called with a prefix (and if the prefix is not used for another purpose). The underlying idea is that the car can provide a less aggressive default such as search' or update' (see below), whereas the cdr can provide more aggressive behavior such as `create'.

WITHOUT-PREFIX and WITH-PREFIX may take the values (here ADDRESS is an email address found in a message): nil Do nothing. search Search for existing records matching ADDRESS. update Search for existing records matching ADDRESS; update name and mail field if necessary. query Search for existing records matching ADDRESS; query for creation of a new record if the record does not exist. create or t Search for existing records matching ADDRESS; create a new record if it does not yet exist. a function This functions will be called with no arguments. It should return one of the above values (see below). read Read the value interactively.

BBDB 2 also used MUA-specific variables bbdb/MUA-update-records-mode to control its interfaces with MUAs. If you liked this feature, use the function bbdb-mua to define your own function to get MUA-specific values for WITHOUT-PREFIX and WITH-PREFIX.

Noninteractive functions

Call bbdb-mua-auto-update-init (usually in your init file) to hook BBDB's hook function bbdb-mua-auto-update into the MUAs.

bbdb-mua-auto-update automatically updates the BBDB records for the sender and/or recipients of a message. If bbdb-mua-pop-up is non-nil, the matching records are also displayed in a continuously updated BBDB window,

The behavior of bbdb-mua-auto-update is controlled by bbdb-mua-auto-action. This may take the same values as bbdb-mua-interactive-action (except read). Binding this to a function is often most helpful for noninteractive use. For example, you may want to bind bbdb-mua-auto-action to the function bbdb-select-message, see bbdb-accept-message-alist and bbdb-ignore-message-alist. If a message is accepted by bbdb-select-message, the actual action performed by BBDB (i.e., the return value of bbdb-select-message) is given by bbdb-mua-action.


Notes for BBDB lisp hackers:

If you write your own functions and commands to modify BBDB records, do not modify the records directly. The recommended sequence of calls is

  • one or multiple calls of bbdb-record-set-field for the respective fields to be changed. This not only sets the fields, but it also ensures the integrity of the database. Also, this makes your code more robust with respect to possible future changes of BBDB's innermost internals.

  • a call of bbdb-change-record which updates the database after a change of record and redisplays the records.

  • To display newly created records call bbdb-display-records.


Copyright (C) 2010-2023 Free Software Foundation, Inc.

This file is part of the Insidious Big Brother Database (aka BBDB),

BBDB is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

BBDB is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along with BBDB. If not, see

Open Source Agenda is not affiliated with "Bbdb" Project. README Source: emacsmirror/bbdb
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