Getting Started with LISTSERV (Subscribers)

This document will cover the basics of using LISTSERV lists specific to the University of Hawai‘i’s centralized servers. List owners, editors and moderators are encouraged to also read "Getting Started with Managing a LISTSERV Mailing List (Owners)".

General Information


Getting More Help

General Information

What is a Mailing List?

A mailing list is a tool that provides users with the means to disseminate information to groups of people. Rather than list every address individually, the user need only enter a single address on the message. This address will reference a list, which will contain the addresses of the intended audience, thus simplifying the task of reaching all of the members of the group.

Personal mailing lists can be setup within email client software such as Microsoft Outlook, Eudora, Netscape mail, etc.  However, these lists are stored on the local computer and are only available to the owner. For others to send to the same group of people on a different computer, they would have to either manually enter the group members’ email addresses individually or import the list from the source computer.

UH mailing lists, on the other hand, are stored on the UH list server.  To send a message to a group, you only need to send the email to the mailing list’s email address.  When the mail server receives the message, it distributes the message to the members of that list.  It does not matter what computer or what email software you are using.

UH mailing lists are much more than email address reference lists.  The owner(s) of a mailing list can configure it to behave differently according to their needs.  Setting specific permissions using keywords and templates creates different types of mailing lists. These are four common examples of mailing lists, each with its own advantages for specialized use:

·         Mail Alias – An email address that is used to redirect a message to one or more addresses. Emails sent to the list are not archived and no record of who sent what and when it was sent is kept on the server.

·         One-way announcement – The owner(s) and editor(s) of the list are the only people who are allowed to send messages to the subscribers. This type of list is primarily used for newsletters, product announcements, and dissemination of information that does not require feedback from the subscriber.

·         Two-way discussion – The list administrators and the list subscribers are both permitted to post messages to the list. This type of list is primarily used for discussion groups engaged in the exchange of ideas and information centered on a specific topic.

·         Moderated – This type of discussion list has an editor(s) who reviews all incoming messages. The editor decides whether or not to allow the message to be sent to all the subscribers on the list. Moderated lists can be used to control the discussion by keeping inflammatory or inappropriate messages from the reaching subscribers.

To use a mailing list you would simply type in the name of the list in the To: field of the outgoing email message. When you send the message, it will go to everyone who is on the list. For example, if there are twenty people that you normally send email to, these people can all belong to a mailing list called Instead of sending a message to twenty addresses:



You would send the message to the list address:


The address will redirect your message to everyone whose email address is in the group-l mailing list. This becomes especially helpful when the size of your group gets very large. Rather than typing in the addresses of everyone individually, you can create a mailing list that will do the same thing for you.

For a more detailed description of the different features of using a mailing list, please refer to online documentation available at:



How Can I Access the LISTSERV?

You can perform actions in LISTSERV by sending a command through email or using the Web interface ( Some commands are only available to LISTSERV administrators and list owners while other commands are available to subscribers and non-subscribers as well.

Using Email to communicate with LISTSERV

There are two main email addresses that are used to work with LISTSERV lists. One is to communicate with the LISTSERV program — a “command address.” The other is used to post mail to the list — the “list address.” If you want to change a list configuration or subscription setting, you would email If you want you want to post a message to the list, you would email the list address (ex: 

Using the web interface to communicate with LISTSERV

Sending email messages to LISTSERV containing commands and posting messages to the list is sometimes confusing for people who are new to mailing lists. To simplify this process, the Web interface provides a centralized location for interaction with LISTSERV. As a list owner, you can use the Web interface to issue commands directly to LISTSERV and post simple messages to the list.

To maintain your list via the Web, visit and sign on using your email address ( First time users must submit a request for a new password.

What is the "OK" Confirmation?

To increase security, there are a number of actions for which LISTSERV requires confirmation before proceeding. In some cases, LISTSERV will accept a password-based validation. In other cases, email confirmation is required. When this happens, LISTSERV sends an email message with a subject line such as:

Subject:           Command confirmation request (787EF897)

The string of letters and numbers in parentheses (“787EF897” in the example) is called a “cookie” (sometimes referred to as a “confirmation code”) and is different every time.

Once an “OK” confirmation request is sent out, you must confirm it within 48 hours in order for the command to be executed.

There are three methods of confirming the command:

  1. To confirm using the Web interface, simply click on the link that is provided in the email message sent to you.
  2. To confirm with email, simply reply to the email message, keeping intact the Subject line including the cookie. In the text of your reply, simply type “OK” (without the quotes).
  3. As an alternative method, you can also create a new email message with a blank subject line and the text “OK xxxxxxxx” where “xxxxxxxx” is the cookie from the original confirmation request email.

The cookie is the most important part of the “OK” confirmation method of validation. LISTSERV randomly generates a new cookie for each action that requires validation.  All of the privileges within LISTSERV are tied to an email address. Only someone with access to your email address can make changes to your LISTSERV.

Caution: Never “OK” a cookie blindly. Make sure you are confirming a command that you initiated or a message that you want distributed to the list.  Several cases of list “hijacking” or spam sent to well-secured lists have been tracked back to a list owner or moderator absent-mindedly clicking an OK link that they should not have clicked.

Accessing LISTSERV via the Web (Subscribers)

This section provides a quick tour of the subscribers corner part of the Web interface. For more information about each page, refer to the online help (Help  in the navigation panel). For your convenience some common tasks have been included in the next section.

Getting Started

To get started, point your browser to:
University of Hawai‘i LISTSERV screen will be displayed, listing a variety of menu selections. Your access to these selections depends on your status – Subscriber or List Owner.

To get started, click on Log In.
If you have already registered with the UH LISTSERV, just enter your email address and the password that was used to register your LISTSERV account. If this is the first time you are logging in, click on get a new LISTSERV password that is in blue and fill in the information requested. An “OK” confirmation will be emailed to you. Click on the link in the email to activate your account. If you are already registered and have forgotten your password, click on the get a new LISTSERV passwordlink to create a new password. Follow the instructions on the next screen to specify a new password. An “OK” confirmation will be sent to your email address for verification. Your request will become active after you have verified your request.
Note: Your password for the LISTSERV must be a minimum of 5 non-space characters. This password is independent of your UH username password. Like any password, you should take care in creating a password that is unique, and you should not distribute it to others. 
After you have confirmed your password, go back to the Welcome page and click on Log in to sign in. On the Login Required screen, type in your complete email address and the password you specified, then click the Log In button.

Navigating the Web Interface

The Web Interface is divided into the following parts: 
  • Top Banner – Default Page header
  • Navigation bar – Appearing on the top side of the main form is the navigation bar. The navigation bar stays generally the same from page to page and contains links back to the various main areas of the Web interface that you have access to: List Management, Subscribers Corner, Email Lists, Preferences, and Log off.
  • Options – Shows options such as Log Out, Change Password, and Search Archives.
  • Help – This section contains links to documentation for users of the LISTSERV website
  • Resources – Functions to request for a new LISTSERV, browsing other LISTSERV through the Catalist search, and information about the LISTSERV software
  • Public Lists - LISTSERV that are marked public.
In LISTSERV 15.0, you can select three modes for the web interface. 
  • Basic - Only the most common options are shown, but no tutorial text is displayed. This is the best mode for those users who are familiar with LISTSERV, but who are not experts and do not need to use the more advanced features. This setting is the default setting.
  • Tutorial - Each web page is displayed with additional text that is meant to guide you through the options on the page. This is the best mode for beginners or for the occasional users. 
  • Expert - Each web page is displayed with no tutorial text, similar to Basic mode, and certain pages may contain advanced options that are not available with the Basic or Tutorial modes. The Expert mode is available for those users who are very familiar with LISTSERV or need access to any advanced settings.

To change the mode, click on Preferences or Basic Mode located in the top header. Use the pull down box to select the mode type (Basic Mode, Expert Mode, Tutorial Mode) then click Submit.

Subscribe/Unsubscribe to a LISTSERV list.

To Subscribe to a List

  1. Go to and log in to LISTSERV (see Accessing LISTSERV via The Web)
  2. After logging in, on the top banner click on Subscribers Corner. Select Show All Lists in the Show All Lists option under the Search Options.
  3. Press the Search button to refresh the List Table.
  4. Check the boxes next to the lists that you want to subscribe to.
  5. At the bottom of the List Names column, select the Subscribe option.
  6. Press the Submit button.

To Unsubscribe from a List

  1. Go to and log in to LISTSERV (see Accessing LISTSERV via The Web)
  2. After logging in, on the top banner click on Subscribers Corner.
  3. On the bottom of the screen you can see which lists you are subscribed to. Check the box next to each list you want to leave.
  4. At the bottom of the List Names column, select the Unsubscribe option.
  5. Press the Submit button.

To Manage Your Subscription

  1. Go to and log in to LISTSERV (see Accessing LISTSERV via The Web)
  2. After logging in, on the top banner click on Subscribers Corner.
  3. On the bottom of the screen you can see which lists you are subscribed to.
  4. Click on [Settings] next to the list you want to manage.
  5. Select the Radio buttons for the options that you want to make changes for.
  6. Press the Update Options button. Note: You can also view and change your subscription options for other lists by using the drop down menu next to the Switch to Another List button. Page

Searching the LISTSERV message archive.

Messages sent to a LISTSERV list that has the web-archiving turned on, are saved on the server and can be viewed by using the Search Archive function. The Search Archive function can be found via clicking on the link on the main page of LISTSERV.

To search the archives:

  1. Go to and log in to LISTSERV (see Accessing LISTSERV via The Web)
  2. After logging in, on the top banner click on Subscribers Corner.
  3. Click on the name of the list.
  4. Click on Search Archives (you may also click on the Month/Year to view messages in a particular month)
  5. Fill in the appropriate fields under the Archive Search heading with your search criteria.
  6. Click on the Search button when you are finished.


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Article ID: 1099
Created: Mon, 14 Dec 2009 4:06pm
Modified: Mon, 03 May 2021 8:14am