Disable the eMail Alert By Crontab Command On a Linux or Unix-like Systems

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How do I to disable the email alert send by crontab? When my job is executed and the jobs cannot run normally it will sent an email to root. Why do I receive e-mails to my root account from cron? How can I prevent this? How can I disable email alert sent by cron jobs on a Linux or Unix-like systems?

The crontab command is used to maintain crontab files for individual users. By default the output of a command or a script (if any produced), will be email to your local email account. To stop receiving email output from crontab you need to append following strings at the end of crontab entry.


Cron job prevent the sending of errors and output

To prevent the sending of errors and output, add any one of the following at the end of the line for each cron job to redirect output to /dev/null.
>/dev/null 2>&1
> /dev/null
> /dev/null 2>&1 || true

This will prevent mail command spam when you type the mail command:
$ mail
Disable eMail Alert By Crontab on Linux and Unix to avoid mail spam

Cron job example to disable the email alert

Edit/Open your cron jobs, enter:
$ crontab -e
Append string >/dev/null 2>&1 to stop mail alert:

0 1 5 10 * /path/to/script.sh >/dev/null 2>&1


0 1 5 10 * /path/to/script.sh > /dev/null


0 * * * * /path/to/command arg1 > /dev/null 2>&1 || true

In this example, just redirect output to /dev/null only:
0 30 * * * /root/bin/check-system-health.py > /dev/null
Save and close the file. See redirect STDOUT and STDERR to null and "BASH Shell Redirect stderr To stdout ( redirect stderr to a File )" to suppress output for more information

Set MAILTO variable to stop cron daemon from sending email

Another option is to set MAILTO="" variable at the start of your crontab file or shell script. This will also disable email alert. Edit/Open your cron jobs:
$ crontab -e
At the top of the file, enter:
Of course we can redirect email too provided that email server such as Postfix configured:
Save and close the file. We can mix them as per our needs. For example:

@daily /scripts/backup.sh 

* 45 * * * /scripts/test-raid-array.sh 

Another example:

@weekly /scripts/containers-backup  >/dev/null 2>&1

@daily /scripts/test-raid-array.sh 

@monthly /path/to/script/logs.sh > /var/log/monthly.log
This entry is 8 of 16 in the Linux Cron Jobs Howto & Tutorial series. Keep reading the rest of the series:
  1. What is cron on a Linux or Unix-like systems?
  2. How To Add Jobs To cron Under Linux or UNIX?
  3. Verify crond Daemon And Cronjobs Are Running
  4. Start Restart and Stop The Cron or Crond Service
  5. List / Display All Cron Jobs
  6. Linux / UNIX Crontab File Location
  7. Change Crontab Email Settings ( MAILTO )
  8. Disable The Mail Alert By Crontab Command On a Linux or Unix-like Systems
  9. At What Time Cron Entries In cron.daily, cron.weekly, cron.monthly Run?
  10. Execute Cron Job After System Reboot
  11. Setup and Run PHP Script As A Cron Job
  12. Run crontab job every minute on a Linux or Unix-like system
  13. Running crontab (cron jobs) Every 10 Minutes
  14. Cron Job Script Execution on the Last Day of a Month
  15. Execute / Run crontab (cron jobs) every 1 minute
  16. Ubuntu create cron.log file

Posted by: Vivek Gite

The author is the creator of nixCraft and a seasoned sysadmin, DevOps engineer, and a trainer for the Linux operating system/Unix shell scripting. Get the latest tutorials on SysAdmin, Linux/Unix and open source topics via RSS/XML feed or weekly email newsletter.


41 comment

  1. If your crontab has huge number of scripts to run it would be cumbersome to append >/dev/numm 2>&1 to each line. Like I have 369 scripts in my crontab. So I find it better to have the MAILTO=”” line at the start of my crontab instead.

  2. But if you have so many cron jobs and you want disable mail alert for a few of them, while other jobs needs a mail alert, then &>/dev/null would be the best choice.


  3. For the csh scripts, at least on every system I have access to, to redirect stderr, you need to put >& /dev/null after the command, not &> as indicated by the note.

  4. It’ll be better if you redirect only the std output to /dev/null instead redirecting both (stdout & stderr). This way only commands with failure exit status will be delivered.

    * * * * /path/to/script.sh > /dev/null


  5. Thank you Edward,
    your “> /dev/null” was the only option that did the job for me. I run and adminster 3 servers with OpenBSD 4.3-5 and the cron did not like any other stuff but what you wrote. Thanks a lot. You saved me a lot of work.

  6. It is not required to restart cron to effect changes to your crontab. Each time cron wakes up, it checks to see if the crontab has changed, and if so cron reparses it.

  7. I would like to know where I can adjust the email address of cron’s mail? Apparently I set an email address somewhere when I installed the server, but I’m unable to find where I can adjust that email address. I’m running debian lenny. Can someone help me here?

  8. Hi Vivek, great tip, thank you!

    The correct way to restart crond in HP-UX is:

    # /sbin/init.d/cron stop
    # /sbin/init.d/cron start

    Best regards.

  9. Hi,
    I wrote to the top of my crontab file

    and the outputs of commands are not coming to my gmail adress. Why?

    Thank you.

  10. @IIker, Have a look at your


    and reload with

    /etc/postfix/postmap sender_canonical

    /etc/postalias aliases

    with aliases you can send mails to root and other addresses without putting it in the MAILTO in crontab. That’s how I was told to do it and it works on my servers.

  11. Will this work for the at command as well?
    I’m trying to setup a series of commands that check for a condition and then reschedule themselves until it’s not true. The problem is every run sends an email to root, I need to stop that.

  12. Hi Vivek Gite,

    Thank you for your post.

    You can use several times the MAILTO variable in order to enable/disable e-mail sending to specific CRON job.

    # Disable e-mail sending
    * * * * * /bin/echo "Test email with MAILTO=\"\""
    # Send e-mail to e-mail-1@domain.com
    * * * * * /bin/echo "Test email with MAILTO=\"e-mail-1@domain.com\""
    # Send e-mail to e-mail-2@domain.com
    * * * * * /bin/echo "Test email with MAILTO=\"e-mail-2@domain.com\""
    However, multi e-mail in MAILTO generate for me the "(CRON) error (bad mailto)" (in /var/log/syslog)
    (Linux u-server-3-guest-2 2.6.38-10-virtual #46-Ubuntu SMP Tue Jun 28 17:54:41 UTC 2011 x86_64 x86_64 x86_64 GNU/Linux
    # The following does not work, but should, if somebody know why
    MAILTO="e-mail-1@domain.com, e-mail-2@domain.com"
    * * * * * /bin/echo "Test email with MAILTO=\"e-mail-1@domain.com, e-mail-2@domain.com\""


  13. Hi,

    I have another question for you. I want to set a cronjob which should be doing following:
    checking a error file if generated every night in a specific directory and if there is one then sending to 5 users email id?

    I think this should be done by creating a shell script and scheduling it every night.

    Thanks a lot

    1. Hi Rick,

      I must say, it is not really a question about CRON, you are asking for writing a bash script?
      Could you give your current scipt and if you have an issue with CRON notification, you could details your problem.


  14. @Michael

    Thanks for replying here it is

    count=$(ls -1 ${err_log_dir}/*.err 2>/dev/null | wc -l)
    if [ $count != 0 ]
    	echo "ERROR: There was an error in loading data" >> ${logfile}
    	MAILTO="xysz.com" >> ${logfile}
    	echo "No Error file was created." >> ${logfile}
  15. This solution suits me ^^
    I use MailTo = “myemail” at the beginning of the crontab-e line to receive all email on my mailbox
    For cron which I do not wish to receive mails I add> / dev / null 2> & 1 at the end of the cron

    Thank you.

  16. I tried this, but I receive an error:

    crontab: error on previous line; unexpected character found in line.

  17. hi,

    Can u please tell me if i use MAILTO=”” option to stop receiving mails from cron then
    where this mails will be stored.?
    Will it go in trash or in queue ?

    1. To the best of my knowledge, cron will not even generate mail because it has no user or address to send the mail to, so it merely executed the jobs in place and the output vanishes into the great /dev/null in the sky.

  18. It is also worth noting that you can mix this up as well. For instance, if you have ten cron jobs and you want email for eight of them, you can do as follows:

    cron job 1
    cron job 2

    cron job 8

    cron job 9
    cron job 10

    Cron, at least as of OS X El Capitan, which runs the latest BSD release, will use the default method of mailing the crontab owner for the first 8 jobs, then ditch any mail for the last two. You can mix it up further and specify different email addresses or user accounts for each cron job in your tab. Just note that when you use MAILTO=”foo”, cron will use that user or email address for every cron job that follows in the tab unless you redeclare MAILTO.

  19. On some crond’s, one can handle this issue at a high level (and circumvent bad crontab files), by adding to /etc/sysconfig/crond: CRONDARGS=”-moff”, and then restart the crond daemon. This tells crond not to send mail at all.

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