Skip to content


Switch branches/tags

Name already in use

A tag already exists with the provided branch name. Many Git commands accept both tag and branch names, so creating this branch may cause unexpected behavior. Are you sure you want to create this branch?

Latest commit


Git stats


Failed to load latest commit information.
Latest commit message
Commit time



Scott Hansen <> (Author and Maintainer)

Maxime Chatelle <> (Debian Maintainer)

Daniel Burrows <> (Original Author)

Purpose and Requirements

Urlscan is a small program that is designed to integrate with the "mutt" mailreader to allow you to easily launch a Web browser for URLs contained in email messages. It is a replacement for the "urlview" program.

Requires: Python 3.7+ and the python-urwid library


Urlscan parses an email message or file and scans it for URLs and email addresses. It then displays the URLs and their context within the message, and allows you to choose one or more URLs to send to your Web browser. Alternatively, it send a list of all URLs to stdout.

Relative to urlview, urlscan has the following additional features:

  • Support for emails in quoted-printable and base64 encodings. No more stripping out =40D from URLs by hand!

  • The context of each URL is provided along with the URL. For HTML mails, a crude parser is used to render the HTML into text. Context view can be toggled on/off with c.

  • URLs are shortened by default to fit on one line. Viewing full URL (for one or all) is toggled with s or S.

  • Jump to a URL by typing the number.

  • Incremental case-insensitive search with /.

  • Execute an arbitrary function (for example, copy URL to clipboard) instead of opening URL in a browser.

  • Use l to cycle through whether URLs are opened using the Python webbrowser module (default), xdg-open (if installed) or opened by a function passed on the command line with --run or --run-safe.

  • Configure colors and keybindings via ~/.config/urlscan/config.json. Generate default config file for editing by running urlscan -g. Cycle through available palettes with p. Set display width with --width.

  • Copy URL to clipboard with C or to primary selection with P. Requires xsel or xclip.

  • Run a command with the selected URL as the argument or pipe the selected URL to a command.

  • Show complete help menu with F1. Hide header on startup with --nohelp.

  • Use a custom regular expression with -E for matching urls or any other pattern. In junction with -r, this effectively turns urlscan into a general purpose CLI selector-type utility.

  • Scan certain email headers for URLs. Currently Link, Archived-At and List-* are scanned when --headers is passed.

  • Queue multiple URLs for opening and open them all at once with a and o.

Installation and setup

To install urlscan, install from your distribution repositories, from Pypi, or do a local development install with pip -e:

pipx install urlscan 


pip install --user urlscan


cd <path/to/urlscan> && pip install --user -e .


The minimum required version of urwid is 1.2.1.

Once urlscan is installed, add the following lines to your .muttrc:

macro index,pager \cb "<pipe-message> urlscan<Enter>" "call urlscan to
extract URLs out of a message"

macro attach,compose \cb "<pipe-entry> urlscan<Enter>" "call urlscan to
extract URLs out of a message"

Once this is done, Control-b while reading mail in mutt will automatically invoke urlscan on the message.

To choose a particular browser, set the environment variable BROWSER. If BROWSER is not set, xdg-open will control which browser is used, if it's available.:

export BROWSER=/usr/bin/epiphany

Command Line usage

urlscan OPTIONS <file>

OPTIONS [-c, --compact]
        [-d, --dedupe]
        [-E, --regex <expression>]
        [-f, --run-safe <expression>]
        [-g, --genconf]
        [-H, --nohelp]
        [    --headers]
        [-n, --no-browser]
        [-p, --pipe]
        [-r, --run <expression>]
        [-R, --reverse]
        [-s, --single]
        [-w, --width]
        [-W  --whitespace-off]

Urlscan can extract URLs and email addresses from emails or any text file. Calling with no flags will start the curses browser. Calling with '-n' will just output a list of URLs/email addressess to stdout. The '-c' flag removes the context from around the URLs in the curses browser, and the '-d' flag removes duplicate URLs. The '-R' flag reverses the displayed order of URLs and context. Files can also be piped to urlscan using normal shell pipe mechanisms: cat <something> | urlscan or urlscan < <something>. The '-W' flag condenses the display output by suppressing blank lines and ellipses lines.

Instead of opening a web browser, the selected URL can be passed as the argument to a command using --run-safe "<command> {}" or --run "<command> {}". Note the use of {} in the command string to denote the selected URL. Alternatively, the URL can be piped to the command using --run-safe <command> --pipe (or --run). Using --run-safe with --pipe is preferred if the command supports it, as it is marginally more secure and tolerant of special characters in the URL.


Run urlscan -g to generate ~/.config/urlscan/config.json with the default color and black & white palettes. This can be edited or added to, as desired. The first palette in the list will be the default. Configure the palettes according to the Urwid display attributes.

Display width can be set with --width.


Run urlscan -g to generate ~/.config/urlscan/config.json. All of the keys will be listed. You can either leave in place or delete any that will not be altered.

To unset a binding, set it equal to "". For example: "P": ""

The follow actions are supported:

  • add_url -- add a URL to the queue (default: a)
  • all_escape -- toggle unescape all URLs (default: u)
  • all_shorten -- toggle shorten all URLs (default: S)
  • bottom -- move cursor to last item (default: G)
  • clear_screen -- redraw screen (default: Ctrl-l)
  • clipboard -- copy highlighted URL to clipboard using xsel/xclip (default: C)
  • clipboard_pri -- copy highlighted URL to primary selection using xsel/xclip (default: P)
  • context -- show/hide context (default: c)
  • del_url -- delete URL from the queue (default: d)
  • down -- cursor down (default: j)
  • help_menu -- show/hide help menu (default: F1)
  • link_handler -- cycle link handling (webbrowser, xdg-open, --run-safe or --run) (default: l)
  • open_queue -- open all URLs in queue (default: o)
  • open_queue_win -- open all URLs in queue in new window (default: O)
  • open_url -- open selected URL (default: space or enter)
  • palette -- cycle through palettes (default: p)
  • quit -- quit (default: q or Q)
  • reverse -- reverse display order (default: R)
  • shorten -- toggle shorten highlighted URL (default: s)
  • top -- move to first list item (default: g)
  • up -- cursor up (default: k)

Update TLD list (for developers, not users)


Known bugs and limitations

  • Running urlscan sometimes "messes up" the terminal background. This seems to be an urwid bug, but I haven't tracked down just what's going on.

  • Extraction of context from HTML messages leaves something to be desired. Probably the ideal solution would be to extract context on a word basis rather than on a paragraph basis.

  • The HTML message handling is a bit kludgy in general.

  • multipart/alternative sections are handled by descending into all the sub-parts, rather than just picking one, which may lead to URLs and context appearing twice. (Bypass this by selecting the '--dedupe' option)


  • pyproject.toml is configured for hatch for building and submitting to pypi.