Postfix Flush the Mail Queue

last updated in Categories Howto, Linux, Mail server, Postfix

Traditionally you use the “sendmail -q” command to flush mail queue under Sendmail MTA. Under Postfix MTA, just enter the following command to flush the mail queue:
# postfix flush
# postfix -f


To see mail queue, enter:
# mailq

To remove all mail from the queue, enter:
# postsuper -d ALL

To remove all mails in the deferred queue, enter:
# postsuper -d ALL deferred script

Following script deletes all mail from the mailq which matches the regular expression specified as the first argument (Credit: ??? – I found it on old good newsgroup)

$REGEXP = shift || die "no email-adress given (regexp-style, e.g. bl.*\!";
@data = qx</usr/sbin/postqueue -p>;
for (@data) {
  if (/^(\w+)(\*|\!)?\s/) {
     $queue_id = $1;
  if($queue_id) {
    if (/$REGEXP/i) {
      $Q{$queue_id} = 1;
      $queue_id = "";
#open(POSTSUPER,"|cat") || die "couldn't open postsuper" ;
open(POSTSUPER,"|postsuper -d -") || die "couldn't open postsuper" ;
foreach (keys %Q) {
  print POSTSUPER "$_\n";

For example, delete all queued messages from or to the domain called, enter:
Delete all queued messages that contain the word “xyz” in the e-mail address:
./ xyz

Updated for accuracy.


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.

62 comment

  1. The command for “To remove all bounced mail from Queue, enter:” is incorrect. That command will completely delete all the contents of your Mail Queue.

    When I read this I thought it would eliminate only the bounced back emails that were sitting in my queue. I was wrong. It deleted all 6,000 of the emails sitting in my queue.

    If this post is any sign of the type of information provided on this website, the readers are in for a big surprise…and some pink slips from their employer..

    1. Wow – you seriously just run any commands you find in a forum on your job’s production servers? You deserved that pink slip.

      1. Wow – do you seriously have to write a comment to insult someone after 3 years? While what you said has been said a few lines below, years ago?

                1. LoLoLoL
                  okay, but, seriously folks, i cant find a /deferred directory even.
                  I want a shell command to delete mails queued to a particular person, not everything.

  2. I think matt deserves a pink slip from his employer, because he uses commands found on random sites without even checking what the effects are!

  3. I’ve found this code on two different blogs and have received compilation errors both times similar to:

    Unmatched right curly bracket at ./delete-queue line 9, at end of line
    (Might be a runaway multi-line ;; string starting on line 5)
    syntax error at ./ line 9, near “}”
    Execution of ./ aborted due to compilation errors.

    I’m more of a PHP person so Perl’s not my thing. I know syntax is really important and I’ve double and triple checked to make sure things are correct, including composing in vi, pico and bbedit editors.

  4. Wow This is a seriously crappy coding job. Who writes this stuff? I cleaned this up to not only make sure this was scoped correctly, but also try to have a novice perl user understand it.


    my $REGEXP = shift(@ARGV) || die “no email-adress given (regexp-style, e.g. bl.*!”;

    my %Q;
    my $queue_id;
    my @data = `/usr/sbin/postqueue -p`;
    foreach my $line (@data) {
    if ($line =~ /^(w+)(*|!)?s/) {
    $queue_id = $1;
    if($queue_id) {
    if ($line =~ /$REGEXP/i) {
    $Q{$queue_id} = 1;
    $queue_id = “”;

    open(POSTSUPER,”|postsuper -d -“) || die “couldn’t open postsuper” ;

    foreach my $key (keys %Q) {
    print POSTSUPER “$keyn”;

    Hopefully this helps.. I cannot confirm that this works, just cleaned it up so that it makes sense.

  5. is there someone help me out? i need scripts to check how many emails bounced or deferred or sent?
    if bounced or deferred then why? like full details message?

  6. If a queue_id of – is specified, the program reads queue IDs from standard input. For example, to delete all mail with exactly one sender :

    mailq | tail +2 | grep -v '^ *(' | awk  'BEGIN { RS = "" }
                  # $7=sender, $8=recipient1, $9=recipient2
                   { if ($7 == "")
                   print $1 }
                  ' | tr -d '*!' | postsuper -d -
  7. thanx alot alot ………………. for the script it works very very very well …… very very very well done …. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Some say Perl is becoming a lost art 😉 Here is my Ruby re-write (a bit more efficient. it uses practically no memory)

    Save as postfix-purge-queue and run every 1 min from a cron job.

    Change the path to match your own binaries. This assumes Solaris (+ blastwave) paths:

    # vi: ft=ruby :
    #  !! lemsx1 $$@$$ gmail !! com
    # 2010-03-04 12:20 EST
    # Cleans postfix mail queue on Solaris
    # set debug to true when testing regex:
    debug = false
    regex = "example.(com|net|org)|Hosts+ors+domains+names+nots+found"
    IO.popen("/opt/csw/sbin/postqueue -p") do |readme|
        q_id = nil
        readme.each do |line|
            if line =~ /^(w+)(*|!)?s/
                q_id = $1
            if q_id
                if line =~ /#{regex}/
                    if debug
                        puts "matching #{q_id}"
                        `/opt/csw/sbin/postsuper -d #{q_id} > /dev/null 2>&1`
  9. How to read mail in queue? I could not find that command. Like we do in
    exim -Mvh id
    exim -Mvb id

    What is the command for postfix?

  10. I use Fedora and had problems running this script. I replaced with this line

    open(POSTSUPER,”|/usr/sbin/postsuper -d -“) || die “couldn’t open postsuper” ;

    and it worked fine.


  11. Cool, thanks for the script, worked just fine at my end, just change the paths in the script and that’s it.

    Thanks again!

  12. My requirement is postfix send 10emails in 1min.Whole postfix server send just 10 emails in 1min.

    How can i do this ? any one help me?

  13. All scripts in this thread are gonna FAIL because the lines provided by “postqueue -p” can generate the following two lines, being the second an explanation of the first:
    0EE281EAE6C 78231 Mon Jan 16 00:35:08
    (line including for some reason a mail from yahoo, like )

    and if you run it against the domain .*, the script is gonna delete the entry from domain, when it shouldn’t.

    To solve it, you should have this:

      if (/^(w+)(*|!)?s/) {
         $queue_id = $1;
      } else {
         $queue_id = "";
    Instead of just this:
      if (/^(w+)(*|!)?s/) {
         $queue_id = $1;
      } else {
         $queue_id = "";

    (The mighty Ruby script will fail for the same reason, and is gonna be fixed as well with the “else” help)

    1. Maybe I’m missing something here, but your two code blocks are identical…what are you saying should be changed, Jose?

  14. Hi Vivek,
    Could you please guide me as to how to use the command to kill all the queue mails in the post fix, Sorry I am new to Linux and Perl, I have no idea what i am dealing with please help me out, Following your instruction above i created the perl file, when i tried the command ./ i received the error that
    -bash: command not found.
    Can anyone please help me out with this, I am receiving 25000 spams everyday.

  15. postsuper -d ALL deferred
    Worked like a champ, I had forgotten the command trying to setup a smart host to relay through and had clogged up the mailq on the server.

    : )

  16. I think he mean the

    } else {
    $queue_id = “”;

    part is added to prevent grepping the dest. server reject message.

  17. HI,

    In which folder should this script be kept , as the command results in file not found if kept in root

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