Information Services Division


How to use Mailman

This guide describes how to use the Mailman system which allows you to send emails to large groups of people.

Before you start

You will need to have set up your Mailman list, before you can follow these instructions.


  1. List settings
  2. Adding list administrators
  3. Adding a description for the list
  4. Changing the administrator's password
  5. Enhancing list security
  6. Membership management
  7. Adding members
  8. Digest options
  9. Spam
  10. Archiving
  11. Filtering
  12. Moderation
  13. Default subject line
  14. Welcome message
  15. Stop members posting to the list
  16. Subscribing to a list

List settings

1. Go to the Mailman web page (only accessible on the UCL network). The first page you see will be the listinfo page.

2. Locate your list name and click on it.

3. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click the [list name] administrative interface link.

4. Log in using the password you received in the email from the ISD IT Services.

Adding list administrators

To add other email addresses which can administer the list, put them in The list administrator email addresses field. This is so that users can report any problems easily. Only addresses in the UCL email domain (ending @ucl.ac.uk) should be used in this field. Administrators need to have the list administrative password which will be in an email from the ISD IT Services when the list was set up.

Note: If the registered administrator of the Mailman mailing list has left, please ask your departmental Computer Rep to contact Postmaster (postmaster@ucl.ac.uk) requesting to have this changed to the new administrator.

Adding a description for the list

You can describe the list for the listinfo page in the An introductory description field. This field may contain HTML e.g. <b>bold</b> and <hr> (for a line across the page).

Adding a descriptive phrase

If you put a phrase in the A terse phrase identifying this list field, this appears after the list's name in the blue box at the top of the listinfo page. A good example of such a terse phrase is "Insanely Great Support Mac users at UCL".

Passwords link

This is where you can change the list administrator's password.

Language link

Multilingual interfaces have not been implemented at UCL.

Enhancing list security

Please note that steps 2 and 3 were made default settings for lists created after 5 November 2018.

  1. Lists are by default included on the Mailman list of lists. Though visible only from devices attached to UCL networks it will help reduce unwanted email traffic and subscription requests if the list is not advertised. In the Mailman Privacy Options under Subscription rules sub-heading Subscribing consider changing the setting Advertise this list when people ask what lists are on this machine? from the default of 'yes' to 'no'.
  2. Also under the Subscribing heading we recommend changing What steps are required for subscription? from the default 'Confirm'  to 'Confirm and approve'. This may generate work for the list administrator(s) or moderator(s) but is more secure than allowing anyone to subscribe to the list and view list messages.
  3. Lists should be further secured by enabling moderation of messages. On lists that are used for announcements this prevents individual members from emailing everyone. Moderation is the only method that can reliably prevent email spoofing so you are strongly advised to moderate your list. However, enabling moderation may not be appropriate for lists created for discussion amongst list members as doing so will generate a lot of moderation traffic. To enable moderation, in the Mailman Privacy Options under Sender Filters sub-heading Members filters change the setting 'By default, should new list member postings be moderated?' from the default 'no' to 'yes'. The default action to take when a moderated member posts to the list is 'hold' (alternatives are 'Reject' or 'Discard' - see the Mailman 'Details' links for more information).

Please note that to post a message to a Mailman list one has to be a member of the list (administrators and moderators cannot by default post to a list - see 'Adding members' below). The privacy option 'List of non-member addresses whose postings should be automatically accepted' under Sender Filters sub-heading Non-members filters should not be used for this purpose and should be left blank as email addresses added here will not be subject to moderation.

Membership Management link

Has a list of people subscribed to the list.

It offers a quick way of unsubscribing several addresses.

The list of members can be obtained by sending an email to [listname]-request @ ucl.ac.uk.

Where [listname] is the name of your mailman mailing list

With the Subject field of the email containing – who [password]

Where [password] is the list administrator’s password.

This should return the complete list, while the web interface will only return one page at a time. You can get a list from the web interface by clicking on the Membership Management link off the [list name] administrative interface page.

If you click on an e-mail address, it gives you access to the options a list user would see when he/she is editing subscription options.

Adding members to your list

If you have a list of recipients ready to add to the list:

  • Click on the Membership Management link.
  • Click on Mass Subscription.
  • Enter the new addresses in the box, one per line.
  • Click on Submit Your Changes.

Note: The default options should stop the members having to acknowledge the welcome message and from you having to confirm their inclusion on the list.

Digest options link

Use Footer added to every digest to change the footer added to each digest.

Spam filters link

Important – you almost certainly want to do this!

Adding a spam filter to keep spam off the list

About 80% of spam arriving at @ucl.ac.uk addresses is tagged:

Unknown macro: {spam?}

The following filter will keep such e-mail off your list:

  • Go to Spam Filter Rule 1 and enter Subject: .* SPAM
  • You can set the Action field either to Hold or Discard.

Archiving Options link

Messages are not archived by default. If archiving is enabled the default is that they will be private.

Choose who can see the list of messages

By default, list archives are private. Though it is possible to select 'Public', for privacy reasons a separate request will need to be made to the ISD IT Services as the list administrator will need to sign a disclaimer that the list members have agreed that in future the list messages will be added to a public archive.

Content filtering link

Remove message attachments that have a matching filename extension is where .exe etc. files are banned from attachments.

Moderating your list

Click the Tend to pending moderator requests link. The page contains all postings and subscriptions requiring approval.

If you want to reject a post, click its number and click Reject and then Submit All Data. There is also an option for banning an e-mail address on this page.

To accept the rest of the posts, click Accept and then Submit All Data on the screen listing all the posts pending.

Change the default subject line of message sent by the list

By default [list name] appears at the beginning of the Subj. line of each message sent by the list. It is a good idea to have something there, as this can be used by users wishing to use rules or filters automatically to move messages to a folder in their e-mail programs.

However, if you do want to change the text or remove it, click the General Options link and change the option for Prefix for subject line of list postings.

Changing the From line in messages from the list

No. There is no known way of doing that. It just appears as [list name]@ucl.ac.uk in messages from the list.

Changing the welcome message

The welcome message is the message that new list members receive.

You may change it by clicking the Edit the public HTML pages and text files link on the administrative interface page.

For example, by default, it says that one can send messages to the list by e-mailing the [list name]@ucl.ac.uk. However, if your list is set up so that normal members cannot send messages to the list, you will need to amend that bit.

Stop members from posting to the list

In the case of some lists, it is not appropriate for members to be able to post to it.

  • To prevent members from sending to the list, you can make all the members moderated.
  • Click the Privacy Options link and reject or discard any e-mail from moderated members. Note: if moderating all traffic to help protect against email spoofing (see above) ensure this setting is set to 'hold' (the default) or messages posted to the list will not appear in the moderation queue.

Subscribing to a list 

1. Go to the Mailman web page (only accessible on the UCL network). The first page you see will be the listinfo page.

2. Locate the name of the list you want to subscribe to and click on it.

3. Under the heading Subscribing to [list name], enter your details and click Subscribe.


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