Getting Started Guide for LISTSERV

What is LISTSERV®?

LISTSERV by L-Soft is e-mail list management software. LISTSERV offers a variety of e-mail list types including announcement-only and discussion groups (moderated or unmoderated).

LISTSERV allows list owners to maintain their lists through e-mail or web-browser interfaces. List subscribers can control personal list settings through a simple web interface. The list archives are available online. List subscribers can read and send messages via e-mail or through the web interface. 

Listserv offers the following:

  • Moderated lists.
  • Allows users to self-subscribe or unsubscribe.
  • Allows non-University of Iowa subscribers.
  • Provides online archives.
  • Allows you. the list-owner, to administer the list yourself.
  • Provides a facility to advertise your list publicly.

See LISTSERV® features for more detailed information.

Should I select LISTSERV® or a Office 365 list?

Office 365 lists can be automatically generated and are ideal for many departmental lists.

Listserv is preferable if you need any of the following:

  • A moderated list.
  • Allow users to self-subscribe or unsubscribe.
  • Have non-University of Iowa subscribers.
  • Want online archives.
  • Administer the list yourself.
  • Want to advertise your list publicly.

See Best Practices - Tips and Recommendations for Creating Lists in Office 365 for a more detailed comparison.

I forgot my password. How do I get a new one?

  1. Open your web browser to
  2. The first time you see the screen Login Required you will have to create a LISTSERV e-mail address and password
  3. Click Register Password 
  4. On the "Register LISTSERV Password" screen enter your E-mail Address and desired Password
  • The e-mail address you enter here must match the From: address supplied by your e-mail system, usually 
  • LISTSERV allows you to set one password for all of your lists. The password can be up to 260 characters in length and contain the characters A-Z 0-9 $#@_-?!|%
    This password is unique to LISTSERV, i.e., it is not synched with your e-mail or Hawkid password.
  • Once you enter the required information, click Register Password.
  • You will see the message "For your protection, the password will not be activated just yet (anyone could have completed this form using your e-mail address)."
  • To activate your password, simply follow the instructions that have been e-mailed to you.
    Please wait until you receive a message from LISTSERV saying "Your new password was registered successfully" before trying to use it with the WWW interface.
  1. Once your password has been registered, click Log In.
  2. In the "Login Required Window", enter your email address and password and select Log In

 Don't forget to Log Out at the end of your session.

How can I set my personal web page preferences?

The web page preferences allow you to set things such as your default start page. To view or change your preferences:

  1. Click Preferences on the left side of the screen.  
  • You will have the option to change preferences on the tabs for General, Archives, Reports and Newsletters.  For more detailed information, click the Help Icon (?). 

How do I find out what lists are available?

The most common way to find out about lists is from other reference materials such as journals, co-workers, friends, or perhaps your professor provides you with the address of your class list.

Local, non-confidential LISTSERV lists may be browsed on the web.

Some list owners have elected to keep their listname confidential. If you know the listname and do not see it in the Online Mailing List Archives,

  • Click Listserv Archives
  • Enter the name of the list in the "Access Unlisted Lists:" field and click Search

You can also obtain the list of local, non-confidential lists via e-mail:

  1. Address an e-mail message to
  2. Put the following in the body of the message:

How do I subscribe to (join) a list?

  1. Go to the LISTSERV Home page.
  2. Click on the listname or if the list is unlisted enter the listname in the Search field for Access Unlisted Lists.
  3. Click the 
  4. Click Subscribe or Unsubscribe.
  5. Enter your Name and Email Address.
  6. Click on the Subscribe (listname) button.
  7. A confirmation message will be sent to your e-mail address asking you to confirm your subscription request. Confirm your subscription request by clicking on the first link in the body of the message.

NOTE:  The e-mail address you enter on the Subscribe or Unsubscribe page must match the From: address, usually

You can also subscribe (join) or unsubscribe (sign-off) via e-mail:

  1. Address an e-mail message to
  2. Put the following in the body of the message:
    subscribe listname yourfirstname yourlastname
  3. A confirmation message will be sent to your e-mail address asking you to confirm your subscription request. Confirm your subscription request by clicking on the first link in the body of the message.

How do I post (send messages) to a list?

Once you have subscribed to the list, you can post messages to the list through the web interface or by sending e-mail to

Using the web browser interface:

  1. Go to the LISTSERV Home page.
  2. Select the list you wish to post to.
  3. Log in with Listserv email address and password.
  4. Click the 
  5. Click on Post Message
  6. Select type of message to send - HTML or Plain Text
  7. Click on the checkbox next to Send a copy of the message to yourself.
  8. Click Advanced if you wish to send an attachment with your message
  9. Click Hide Advanced to return to the message screen
  10. Type your message
  11. Click Send Message.

Using E-Mail

  1. Create a new message and type the in the To field. 
  2. Type the subject of the message
  3. Type the text of the message
  4. Click Send

Note: Lists can be set to:

  • Public - Anyone can post to the list.
  • Private - Only list members can send to the list.
  • Editor - Messages will be reviewed by a moderator to be approved or denied. This is also used for "Announce-only" lists.
  • Public, Auto-responder - The list simply responds with a set message.

How do I unsubscribe from (leave) a list?

Using the web browser interface

  1. Go to the LISTSERV Home Page.
  2. Select the list you wish to unsubscribe from or search in the Access Unlisted Lists:
  3. Click the 
  4. Select Subscribe or Unsubscribe

Using e-mail:

  1. Address an e-mail message to
  2. Put the following in the body of the message:   signoff listname
  3. Do not include your name or e-mail address in the body of the signoff message.

Note: When you leave the University, you can use the command signoff * (signoff followed by a space and asterisk) to unsubscribe from all lists you have joined.

How can I filter LISTSERV messages?

My inbox is getting overloaded. Is there an easy way to automatically move (filter) these messages into another mailbox?

Yes. See How to Filter E-mail Messages.

How can I start my own list?

All University of Iowa faculty, staff, students, and recognized student organizations are eligible to start new lists with departmental approval.

Before requesting a new list, please:

Can an outside organization get a LISTSERV list?

The list owner must be affiliated with the University and get the appropriate signatures/approvals by their department.

Where can I obtain more information?

Information, including all of the L-Soft manuals, is available at UI LISTSERV Documentation.

Article number: 
Last updated: 
September 9, 2021