This documentation is for Dovecot v2.x, see wiki1 for v1.x documentation.

Mail location

In configuration file the default mail location is set using default_mail_env setting.

You can use some variables in the value:

In 1.0-test versions there are more, see [wiki:Variables Variables].

Typically with maildir this would be set to:

default_mail_env = maildir:%h/Maildir

or with mbox:

default_mail_env = mbox:%h/mail:INBOX=/var/mail/%u

Index files are by default stored under the same directory as mails. With maildir they are stored in the actual maildirs, with mbox they are stored under .imap/ directory. You can change these by adding :INDEX=location to location string. For example:

default_mail_env = mbox:%h/mail:INBOX=/var/mail/%u:INDEX=%h/indexes

If you didn't set home directory, %h can't be used. Instead you can do something like:

default_mail_env = maildir:/home/%u/Maildir

With virtual users the mail and home directories are probably the same. In that case you would just do:

default_mail_env = maildir:%h

Per-user mail locations

It's possible to override default_mail_env for specific users in authentication userdb.


Return mail field in user_query, for example:

user_query = SELECT home, uid, gid, mail FROM users WHERE user = '%u'


Specify mail attribute in user_attrs, for example:

user_attrs = uid,homeDirectory,mailLocation,,uidNumber,gidNumber


The mail attribute is set as last field in passwd-file, for example:


Mixing mbox and maildir

With 1.0-tests it's possible to use both mboxes and maildirs for same user with namespaces. See [wiki:Namespaces Namespaces].

Having mixed mbox/maildirs within same namespace isn't currently supported.

Only /var/mail mboxes

With POP3 it's been traditional that users have their mails only in /var/mail directory. IMAP however supports having multiple mailboxes, so each user has to have a private directory where the mailboxes are stored. Dovecot also needs a directory for its indexes unless you disable them completely.

If you really want to use Dovecot as a plain POP3 server without index files, you can work around the problem of not having the per-user directory:

Instead of /tmp directory you can use some other non-writable directory which could be safer.