The lines that the user needs to enter or customize will be in red in this tutorial!
The rest should mostly be copy-and-pastable.
The PHP mail() function uses the program in sendmail_path configuration directive to send emails. This is set up as sendmail by default.
While most Linux installations have sendmail preinstalled, there is always a hassle of setting up SPF/PTR records, generating DKIM keys and a lot more to ensure that the email sent by your PHP script is not flagged as spam. A SMTP client called MSMTP can be used to send emails using third-party SMTP servers, this can also be used by PHP's mail() in the place of sendmail.
To install MSMTP on Fedora Linux use yum:
yum install msmtp
CentOS repository doesn't have a RPM package for MSMTP so we need to install it from source:
yum install make gcc pkgconfig wget http://sourceforge.net/
projects/msmtp/files/msmtp/1.tar -xvf msmtp-1.4.31.tar.bz2 cd msmtp-1.4.31 ./configure make make install 4.31/msmtp-1.4.31.tar.bz2/ download
The latest version is 1.4.31 at the time of this writing but it may change in future so to get the latest version, visit this sourceforge page.
On Ubuntu/Debian distribution use apt-get:
apt-get install msmtp
Arch Linux users:
sudo pacman -S msmtp
The configuration file of MSMTP is stored in ~/.msmtprc for each user and /etc/msmtprc is the system wide configuration file. Open the configuration file in your directory.
Add the following lines for a Yahoo account:
account yahoo tls on tls_starttls off tls_certcheck off auth on host smtp.mail.yahoo.com user user1 from firstname.lastname@example.org password yourYahooPa5sw0rd
For Gmail, use the following settings:
account gmail tls on tls_certcheck off auth on host smtp.gmail.com port 587 user email@example.com from firstname.lastname@example.org password yourgmailPassw0rd
This file can also have more than one account, just ensure that the "account" value is unique for each section. Save the file and use chmod to make this file readable only by the owner since it contains passwords. This step is mandatory because msmtp won't run if the permissions are more than 600.
chmod 600 ~/.msmtprc
Before implementing this in PHP, check from the command-line to ensure it works properly. To do this, create a plain text file containing a simple email:
echo -e "From: email@example.com \n\ To: firstname.lastname@example.org \n\ Subject: Hello World \n\ \n\ This email was sent using MSMTP via Gmail/Yahoo." >> sample_email.txt
Now send this email:
cat sample_email.txt | msmtp --debug -a gmail email@example.com
Replace the word "gmail" with "yahoo" or whatever you entered for the "account" option. You'll see a lot of messages because of the "--debug" parameter. This is to make troubleshooting easy if things don't work as expected. If firstname.lastname@example.org receives this email, everything is setup correctly so copy this file to the /etc directory:
cp -p ~/.msmtprc /etc/.msmtp_php
Change the ownership to the username under which the web server is running. This can be "apache", "www-data", or "nobody" depending on the Linux distribution on your VPS and web server installed:
chown www-data:www-data /etc/.msmtp_php
Open the php.ini file, its location varies according to the OS and PHP type installed (PHP CGI, mod_php, PHP-FPM etc):
Find the following line:
Modify it by adding the path to the msmtp command:
sendmail_path = "/usr/bin/msmtp -C /etc/.msmtp_php --logfile /var/log/msmtp.log -a gmail -t"
Manually create a log file and change its ownership to the username your web server is running as:
touch /var/log/msmtp.log chown www-data:www-data /var/log/msmtp.log
Restart your web server to apply the changes:
service httpd restart
In Arch Linux, this is done using the systemctl command:
systemctl restart httpd
Depending on your OS and web server, replace "httpd" with the appropriate name. If PHP is running as a separate process (like PHP-FPM), restart it instead:
service php5-fpm restart
Create a PHP script with a simple mail() to test this setup:
","A Subject Here","Hi there,\nThis email was sent using PHP's mail function.")) print "Email successfully sent"; else print "An error occured"; ?>
Access this file from the web browser.
If this email wasn't sent you can check the msmtp log file for errors.
If the email was not sent when using the PHP script, troubleshoot as follows:
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Ok … managed to nail the problem, droplet is in Singapore 1 with IPv6 enabled. It takes 3-5 minutes with IPv6 and after disabling IPv6 within OS (nothing else changed), it takes 2-4 seconds with IPv4.
I do not know if it is Google or DigitalOcean but I really hope that DigitalOcean will look into and check if there is a IPv6 routing or speed issue.
I ended up going down a deep rabbit hole of apparmor permissions, etc.
Here’s my recommandations:
In my case, these were the changes needed:
Had the same issue with PHP 8.2 of emails sending in SSH, but not from the PHP file itself. Nothing in the logs.
Ultimately gave up and just decided to send emails like this:
Thanks for the awesome tutorial! I have found tons of new and useful information here and it worked.
I’m close to getting this working, but can’t get the last step. This line sends the email just fine:
But when I try to execute it from a php file (either in the command line with “php /var/www/file.php” or in the web browser) it doesn’t send at all. Oddly, the command line returns “Email successfully sent” while the web browser says “An error occurred.” It seems like something is wrong with the php config. Any ideas?
Five years later and this article is still helpful. Incase anyone else is still reading and has any issues like with security warning, follow these steps:
Following these steps all emails have no security warning and are not marked as spam.
first of all thanks for this and all the other great tutorials!
However, with this one I have one issue I could not solve.
If I do: cat sample_email.txt | msmtp --debug -a gmail email@example.com
There is a lot of console output, ending with: reading recipients from the command line
If I wait long enough (approx. 2 minutes) I receive the mail. However, the problem propagates to phps mail function. This means, if a user fills out a contact form he has to wait for approx. 2 minutes until he receives feedback.
(When googling, I usually find that the /etc/hosts file needs to be properly set, however, this is not the issue here).
Excellent tutorial!!! I followed the steps and worked like a charm. But I want to send emails from different senders from my website. eg. If the user goes to www.mypage.com/A.php I want to send a mail from mailA@gmail.com and If the user goes to www.mypage.com/B.php I want to send a mail from mailB@gmail.com
In /etc/.msmtp_php I defined both accounts
In sendpath I defined only gmailA
and all the mails sends with FROM: mailA@gmail.com Which is fine but I want that sometimes the sender is mailB@gmail.com
I use this headers in mail()
but sender keep being mailA@gmail.com
is there any way to define another account in sendmail_path so I can “choose” which one to use??
I am a newbie and using Debian 8 and NGINX for my web server, just followed this tutorial step by step and finally I still unable to send an email. For testing, I run this command;
cat sample_email.txt | msmtp --debug -a gmail firstname.lastname@example.org
then I got this message:
-bash: /usr/bin/msmtp: Permission denied
What’s the problem, can you help me, please?
I’ve tried this method. It sends an email with this terminal command “cat sample_email.txt | msmtp --debug -a gmail email@example.com”, but when I implemented the mail() in php it does not send. Also, it does not send an error.