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Launchpad Help > Bugs > Email interface


Launchpad's bug tracker sends you email about the bugs you're interested in. If you see something that requires your attention - for example, you want to comment on a bug - rather than leaving your email client to fire up a web browser, all you need to do is reply to the email.

It's not just limited to replying to bug notifications, though. The bug tracker's email interface allows you to do just about everything you can in the web interface. Within time, you may find that email is the main way you interact with the bug tracker.

Before you start

Launchpad verifies incoming email by looking for a GNU Privacy Guard (GPG) signature by the sender, or a DKIM signature by a trusted sender domain, such as GMail. Read our guide on adding your GPG key to your Launchpad account.

Messages that just add comments to a bug or merge proposal are not required to be signed. Messages that contain commands to change the state of an object do need to be signed.

Anatomy of an email to the bug tracker

Let's look at the elements of a bug report email:

That last item, the email body, needs a little more explanation. When you want to use one of the email interface's commands, you need to start the line with a space. Otherwise, Launchpad will treat your command as a comment only and not as a command.

Note: all commands are also posted as a comment to the bug. This is something we plan to fix.

Getting started with the email interface

Let's take a look at an imaginary scenario, in which someone reports a bug requesting a screen cast to help demonstrate the bug tracker's email interface.

Reporting a bug

Reporting a new bug by email is simple. Send an email to new@bugs.launchpad.net and describe the problem you're having. Tell Launchpad which project, distribution or distribution package the bug affects by using the affects command.


Affects must be the first command you give in the email when reporting a new bug.

Here's an example bug report email:

From: you@example.com
To: new@bugs.launchpad.net
Subject: Bug tracker email interface needs a screen cast


I looked on the Launchpad help wiki for information on using the bug tracker's email interface.
I found the user guide helpful but wanted a screen cast to demonstrate it at my local LUG.

 affects launchpad-documentation

If the bug affects a distribution package, state the distribution name followed by a slash and the package name. For example: `affects ubuntu/firefox".

Similarly, if the bug affects more than one project or package, use a new line for each project/package:

 affects exaile
 affects ubuntu/exaile

Commenting on and changing the status of a bug

If you've received a notification about a bug and you want to leave a comment, simply reply to the email. Otherwise, to comment on a bug, send your email to bugnumber@bugs.launchpad.net. For example: 123@bugs.launchpad.net.

Here's an example bug comment email, with a command to change its status to Confirmed:

From: joey@canonical.com
To: 123@bugs.launchpad.net
Subject: Neat idea


What a neat idea! Matt R: can you schedule some time to create a screen cast?

We should put the screen cast directly in the bug tracker's interface.

 affects launchpad
 status confirmed

Joey has also marked the bug as affecting Launchpad itself, using its project name launchpad.

Assigning and targeting the bug

Matthew sees that his boss, Joey, thinks this a good idea, so he assigns it to himself and targets it to a future milestone:

From: matthew.revell@canonical.com
To: 123@bugs.launchpad.net
Subject: I'll tackle this in September


> What a neat idea! Matt R: can you schedule some time to create a screen cast?

Yeah, this is a great idea. I'll have time for this in September.

 affects launchpad-documentation
 assignee matthew.revell
 milestone 1.2.9

Note that Matthew used the affects command. Earlier, Joey marked the bug as also affecting another project. Here, affects lets Matthew ensure the assignee and milestone are applied to the bug as it affects the Launchpad Documentation project. To use affects in this way you must place it before the other commands.

Matthew could just as easily have left out the affects command and Launchpad would have selected the most likely project that bug is reported against. See the affects command reference for details.

Attaching files to bugs

Once Matthew's started work on the bug, he can attach an image from the screen cast to the bug report to show how he's getting on.

In most cases, file attachments are useful for screen shots that demonstrate the bug or for log files.

You can attach a file to a bug report by attaching the file to the email you send to Launchpad.

The attachment must have its content-disposition set to "attachment" and not "inline". Images pasted into emails in Mozilla Thunderbird have a content-disposition of "inline", so attach them rather than paste them into the email body.

To help prevent unwanted files being attached to bug reports, Launchpad filters files that are unlikely to be intended for the bug report, including:

Editing a bug that affects multiple contexts

Every package or project affected by a bug has its own fix status, assignee, milestone and so on. Use the affects command to edit each of these as it affects a particular context.

For example:

From: you@example.com
To: 29760@bugs.launchpad.net
Subject: <none>

 affects ubuntu/flash-player
 status fixreleased

When a bug affects only one package or product, the affects command is unnecessary.

What to expect when you submit an email

Launchpad processes incoming bug mail every three minutes, so a slight delay between sending a mail and receiving a response is normal.

On success

If Launchpad processed your email successfully, it will reply by email to confirm the changes. This email is identical to the bug notification that would get if you had made the same changes using the web interface.

For example, if you sent an email like:

From: you@example.com
To: 28919@bugs.launchpad.net
Subject: Re: [Bug 28919] error signing code of conduct: "str: No public key"

 status incomplete

You'll receive a response like:

From: you@example.com
To: you@example.com
Subject: [Bug 28919] error signing code of conduct: "str: No public key"

Public bug report changed:

Changed in: Launchpad (upstream)
         Status: Unconfirmed => Incomplete

On partial failure

An email message to new@bugs.launchpad.net can (1) create a bug and (2) attempt a command on the bug. It is possible for the create to succeed but the command to fail. The resulting error message will give you the impression that the whole email failed. You can then create a duplicate bug.

If you get a failure email message and you wish to avoid duplicate bugs, you would be prudent to check the web interface for new bugs before resending your bug with your attempted corrections to your commands.

On failure

If an error occurs while processing your email, Launchpad will send you a failure message.

For example, if you forget to GPG-sign an email reporting a new bug, you'll receive an error message similar to:

From: noreply@bugs.launchpad.net
To: you@example.com
Subject: Submit Request Failure

An error occurred while processing a mail you sent to Launchpad's email

Error message:

In order to submit bugs via email you have to sign the message with a
GPG key that is registered in Launchpad.

For more information about using Launchpad by email, see
or send an email to help@launchpad.net

If you've waited several minutes and still not received either a change notification or an error message, please let us know.

Filtering bug mail

If you deal with a large number of bug reports by email, you may find that you want to filter them to stop them cluttering your in-box. Launchpad appends custom headers to bug emails to help you filter them.

You can find out more about the headers that Launchpad uses in our article on bug subscriptions.

Commands reference

You must write one email command per line. Remember that you need to start the line with a space, otherwise it will be treated as part of your comment.

For example:

 status confirmed
 assignee foobar

You can mix commands with non-command text, such as the description when filing a bug, or comment text when replying to a bug notification.

For example:

This is an example bit of bug description.

 affects ubuntu/firefox

And this is some more description.

 assignee bradb


affects [distribution|package|product]

When filing a bug, affects $target marks the bug as affecting $target. This must be the first command when reporting a new bug.

You can also, optionally, use affects when you're editing a bug. For example, if you want to set the status of a bug as it affects Zope 3, you'd use affects zope3.

If you leave out affects, Launchpad will make your changes to the bug the following context:

  1. the project, distribution or package for which you are a bug supervisor
  2. the distribution of which you're a member

If Launchpad can't determine the context in which to make your changes, it will email you with an error message.

The affects target can take the following forms:

 affects $product

 affects $product/$product_series

 affects $distribution

 affects $distribution/$source_package

 affects $distribution/$distro_series

 affects $distribution/$distro_series/$source_package


summary "$summary"

Change the one-line summary of the bug. Quotes are required.

 summary "A better summary"


assignee [name|email|nobody]

Assign a bug to someone.

 assignee bradb

 assignee brad.bollenbach@ubuntu.com

Unassign the bug.

 assignee nobody


status [new|incomplete|invalid|wontfix|confirmed|triaged|inprogress|fixcommitted|fixreleased]

Change the status of a bug.

 status fixreleased


importance [wishlist|low|medium|high|critical]

Change the importance of a bug.

 importance high


milestone $milestone

Sets or clears the milestone of the bug. The milestone must already exist in Launchpad. More about milestones.

 milestone 1.1.10

You can clear the milestone by sending a hyphen:

 milestone -


informationtype [public|publicsecurity|privatesecurity|private|proprietary]

Changes the information type of the bug that affects visibility of the bug. Only the people that the project shares confidential information with can see "Private", "Private Security", and "Proprietary" bugs.

 informationtype privatesecurity


subscribe [name|email]

Subscribe yourself or someone else to the bug. If you don't specify a name or email, Launchpad will subscribe you, the send of the email, to the bug.

Subscribe yourself to the bug:


Subscribe Foo Bar to the bug:

 subscribe foo.bar@canonical.com

Subscribe Bjorn to the bug.

 subscribe bjornt


 unsubscribe [name|email]

The opposite of the subscribe command.


duplicate $bugid

Mark the bug as a duplicate of another bug.

  duplicate 42

To unmark the bug as a duplicate, specify 'no' as the bug id.

  duplicate no


bug $bugid

The bug command is useful if you want to use one email to make changes to several bugs.

Send such emails to edit@bugs.launchpad.net.

From: terry.tibbs@tibbsmotors.com
To: edit@bugs.launchpad.net
Subject: <whatever>

 bug 42
 status confirmed

 bug 49
 status confirmed


tag $tag

Assign a tag to a bug. You can specify multiple tags with a single command.

 tag foo


 tag foo bar

Remove a tag by prefixing the tag name with -.

 tag -foo


done tells Launchpad to process no further commands.

For example:

 tag foo
 status confirmed
 affects everyone using version 1.0.1

The line below done looks like an affects command but Launchpad will ignore it.

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Translations >

Bugs/EmailInterface (last edited 2021-10-08 14:11:54 by cjwatson)