How to Send Email from a PHP Script Using SMTP Authentication (and SSL)

Sending an email from a PHP script is simple, fast and easy; if it works.


PHP mail() and SMTP Authentication

Part of what makes the PHP mail() function is so simple is its lack of flexibility. Most importantly and frustratingly, stock PHP mail() does not usually allow you to use the SMTP server of your choice, and it does not support SMTP authentication — required by many a mail server today — at all.

PEAR Mail for SMTP Authentication and SSL Connection

Fortunately, overcoming PHP’s built-in shortcomings is not difficult either, complicated or painful. For most email uses, the free PEAR Mail package offers all the power and flexibility needed, and it authenticates with your desired outgoing mail server. For enhanced security, encrypted SSL connections are supported for sending mail using PEAR Mail as well.

Send Email from a PHP Script Using SMTP Authentication

To connect to an outgoing SMTP server from a PHP script using SMTP authentication and send an email:

  • Make sure the PEAR Mail package is installed.
    • Typically, in particular with PHP 4 or later, this will have already been done for you. Just give it a try.
  • Adapt the example below for your needs. Make sure you change the following variables at least:
    • from: the email address from which you want the message to be sent.
    • to: the recipient’s email address and name.
    • host: your outgoing SMTP server name.
    • username: the SMTP user name (typically the same as the user name used to retrieve mail).
    • password: the password for SMTP authentication.

Sending Mail from PHP Using SMTP Authentication – Example

Sending Mail from PHP Using SMTP Authentication and SSL Encryption – Example



The native PHP’s mail() fucntion doesn’t allow you to chose the SMTP server of your choice, nor does it support SMTP authentication.

Fortunately, you can use the free PHPMailer email sending library to overcome PHP’s built-in shortcomings.

Here is a sample usage: