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Disable The Mail Alert By Crontab Command On a Linux or Unix-like Systems

How do I to disable the mail 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

Cron job example

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

Save and close the file.

Set MAILTO variable

You can set MAILTO=”” variable at the start of your crontab file. This will also disable email alert. Edit/Open your cron jobs:
$ crontab -e
At the top of the file, enter:
Save and close the file.

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{ 41 comments… add one }
  • Renish Ladani August 2, 2007, 1:57 pm

    I tried above thing and it works on my server

  • Henrik Johansen August 3, 2007, 8:36 am

    Setting MAILTO="" in your crontab disables the sending of emails aswell.

  • Anand Sharma August 30, 2007, 7:52 am

    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.

    • kthx August 3, 2011, 4:01 am

      Hahaha just stop there for a while lol….

    • Kevin August 19, 2015, 4:49 pm

      Holy cow. That is so many scripts for a crontab…

  • Gopal January 25, 2008, 9:26 am

    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.


  • Prolific Programmer February 1, 2008, 2:09 pm

    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.

  • Matt Balloon March 7, 2008, 3:23 pm

    I used your tip for my openads installation, thanks, I think cronjobs are pretty complicated things

  • Phil October 12, 2008, 12:10 pm

    If you want the crontab to run daily, weekley, monthly etc.. a good shortcut is to use the variables

    @daily, @weekley etc…

    It saves you accidently missing out a * and getting thousands of emails by mistake


    for a full list of them

  • Sebastián Perrone December 10, 2008, 5:32 pm

    I try MAILTO environment var and work ok. Thanks for help !

  • slowpoison June 22, 2009, 8:58 pm

    Is it MAILTO or EMAILTO?
    Only MAILTO worked for me. I think EMAILTO is wrong.

  • nixCraft June 22, 2009, 9:38 pm

    @ slowpoison

    Thanks for the heads-up.

  • edward baddouh August 10, 2009, 1:27 pm

    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


  • Petr Topiarz alias kolaloka March 12, 2010, 2:43 pm

    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.

  • Anoni Mouse May 9, 2010, 1:35 pm

    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.

  • Bud June 13, 2010, 10:57 pm

    Thank you OP and Anand Sharma

  • Frank June 26, 2010, 8:22 am

    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?

    • Fredrik August 3, 2010, 10:24 am


      Sure, use the MAILTO=”” trick, just don’t put “”


  • Chris January 5, 2011, 5:52 pm

    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.

  • Ilker March 12, 2011, 6:46 am

    I wrote to the top of my crontab file

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

    Thank you.

  • Rosario April 15, 2011, 6:11 pm

    @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.

  • kthx August 3, 2011, 4:02 am

    MAILTO=”” is the best solution :P

    Thanks for the tip ;)

  • Howard January 31, 2012, 2:39 pm

    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.

  • Mike February 7, 2012, 12:43 am

    Thanks for the tip, works great to disable cron emails.

  • Mickael August 24, 2012, 3:00 am

    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\""


  • Varun Verma January 9, 2013, 10:37 pm

    Works like a charm. Thanks for sharing.

  • Rick March 20, 2013, 9:48 pm


    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

    • Mickael March 21, 2013, 4:09 am

      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.


  • Rick March 21, 2013, 2:55 pm


    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}

  • Rick March 25, 2013, 4:22 pm


    Any one can reply to my above query?


  • anonymous October 3, 2013, 8:26 pm

    Try ‘if [ ${count} -ne 0 ] ; then ….

  • fireskyer October 21, 2013, 12:21 pm

    How can i surpress certain
    Output from crontab ?

    for example:
    stdin: is not a tty line

  • ismail sebbane February 21, 2014, 3:04 pm

    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.

  • Tim June 5, 2014, 10:15 pm

    I tried this, but I receive an error:

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

  • ankit jain August 19, 2014, 1:03 pm


    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 ?

    • Corey Edwards December 2, 2015, 5:03 pm

      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.

  • arjun December 23, 2014, 10:04 am

    MAILTO not working on my server any other solutions

  • Alan Santos October 29, 2015, 8:02 pm

    Work’s like a charm.


  • Corey Edwards December 2, 2015, 5:02 pm

    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.

  • Regaug January 19, 2016, 8:49 pm

    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.

  • Terrence Brannon November 6, 2016, 12:06 pm

    Remove the period on your first unix command. E.g. instead of

    >/dev/null 2>&1.

    make it just

    >/dev/null 2>&1

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