(PHP 4, PHP 5, PHP 7, PHP 8)

mailSend mail


    string $to,
    string $subject,
    string $message,
    array|string $additional_headers = [],
    string $additional_params = ""
): bool

Sends an email.



Receiver, or receivers of the mail.

The formatting of this string must comply with » RFC 2822. Some examples are:

  • User
  • User , Another User


Subject of the email to be sent.


Subject must satisfy » RFC 2047.


Message to be sent.

Each line should be separated with a CRLF (\r\n). Lines should not be larger than 70 characters.


(Windows only) When PHP is talking to a SMTP server directly, if a full stop is found on the start of a line, it is removed. To counter-act this, replace these occurrences with a double dot.

= str_replace("\n.", "\n..", $text);

additional_headers (optional)

String or array to be inserted at the end of the email header.

This is typically used to add extra headers (From, Cc, and Bcc). Multiple extra headers should be separated with a CRLF (\r\n). If outside data are used to compose this header, the data should be sanitized so that no unwanted headers could be injected.

If an array is passed, its keys are the header names and its values are the respective header values.


When sending mail, the mail must contain a From header. This can be set with the additional_headers parameter, or a default can be set in php.ini.

Failing to do this will result in an error message similar to Warning: mail(): "sendmail_from" not set in php.ini or custom "From:" header missing. The From header sets also Return-Path when sending directly via SMTP (Windows only).


If messages are not received, try using a LF (\n) only. Some Unix mail transfer agents (most notably » qmail) replace LF by CRLF automatically (which leads to doubling CR if CRLF is used). This should be a last resort, as it does not comply with » RFC 2822.

additional_params (optional)

The additional_params parameter can be used to pass additional flags as command line options to the program configured to be used when sending mail, as defined by the sendmail_path configuration setting. For example, this can be used to set the envelope sender address when using sendmail with the -f sendmail option.

This parameter is escaped by escapeshellcmd() internally to prevent command execution. escapeshellcmd() prevents command execution, but allows to add additional parameters. For security reasons, it is recommended for the user to sanitize this parameter to avoid adding unwanted parameters to the shell command.

Since escapeshellcmd() is applied automatically, some characters that are allowed as email addresses by internet RFCs cannot be used. mail() can not allow such characters, so in programs where the use of such characters is required, alternative means of sending emails (such as using a framework or a library) is recommended.

The user that the webserver runs as should be added as a trusted user to the sendmail configuration to prevent a 'X-Warning' header from being added to the message when the envelope sender (-f) is set using this method. For sendmail users, this file is /etc/mail/trusted-users.

Return Values

Returns true if the mail was successfully accepted for delivery, false otherwise.

It is important to note that just because the mail was accepted for delivery, it does NOT mean the mail will actually reach the intended destination.


Version Description
7.2.0 The additional_headers parameter now also accepts an array.


Example #1 Sending mail.

Using mail() to send a simple email:

// The message
$message = "Line 1\r\nLine 2\r\nLine 3";

// In case any of our lines are larger than 70 characters, we should use wordwrap()
$message = wordwrap($message, 70, "\r\n");

// Send
mail('', 'My Subject', $message);

Example #2 Sending mail with extra headers.

The addition of basic headers, telling the MUA the From and Reply-To addresses:

= '';
$subject = 'the subject';
$message = 'hello';
$headers = 'From:' . "\r\n" .
'Reply-To:' . "\r\n" .
'X-Mailer: PHP/' . phpversion();

mail($to, $subject, $message, $headers);

Example #3 Sending mail with extra headers as array

This example sends the same mail as the example immediately above, but passes the additional headers as array (available as of PHP 7.2.0).

= '';
$subject = 'the subject';
$message = 'hello';
$headers = array(
'From' => '',
'Reply-To' => '',
'X-Mailer' => 'PHP/' . phpversion()

mail($to, $subject, $message, $headers);

Example #4 Sending mail with an additional command line parameter.

The additional_params parameter can be used to pass an additional parameter to the program configured to use when sending mail using the sendmail_path.

('', 'the subject', 'the message', null,

Example #5 Sending HTML email

It is also possible to send HTML email with mail().

// Multiple recipients
$to = ','; // note the comma

// Subject
$subject = 'Birthday Reminders for August';

// Message
$message = '
<title>Birthday Reminders for August</title>
<p>Here are the birthdays upcoming in August!</p>

// To send HTML mail, the Content-type header must be set
$headers[] = 'MIME-Version: 1.0';
$headers[] = 'Content-type: text/html; charset=iso-8859-1';

// Additional headers
$headers[] = 'To: Mary <>, Kelly <>';
$headers[] = 'From: Birthday Reminder <>';
$headers[] = 'Cc:';
$headers[] = 'Bcc:';

// Mail it
mail($to, $subject, $message, implode("\r\n", $headers));


If intending to send HTML or otherwise Complex mails, it is recommended to use the PEAR package » PEAR::Mail_Mime.



The SMTP implementation (Windows only) of mail() differs in many ways from the sendmail implementation. First, it doesn't use a local binary for composing messages but only operates on direct sockets which means a MTA is needed listening on a network socket (which can either on the localhost or a remote machine).

Second, the custom headers like From:, Cc:, Bcc: and Date: are not interpreted by the MTA in the first place, but are parsed by PHP.

As such, the to parameter should not be an address in the form of "Something <>". The mail command may not parse this properly while talking with the MTA.


It is worth noting that the mail() function is not suitable for larger volumes of email in a loop. This function opens and closes an SMTP socket for each email, which is not very efficient.

For the sending of large amounts of email, see the » PEAR::Mail, and » PEAR::Mail_Queue packages.


The following RFCs may be useful: » RFC 1896, » RFC 2045, » RFC 2046, » RFC 2047, » RFC 2048, » RFC 2049, and » RFC 2822.

See Also

add a note

User Contributed Notes 20 notes

7 years ago
Security advice: Although it is not documented, for the parameters $to and $subject the mail() function changes at least \r and \n to space. So these parameters are safe against injection of additional headers. But you might want to check $to for commas as these separate multiple addresses and you might not want to send to more than one recipient.

The crucial part is the $additional_headers parameter. This parameter can't be cleaned by the mail() function. So it is up to you to prevent unwanted \r or \n to be inserted into the values you put in there. Otherwise you just created a potential spam distributor.
priyanshkala3 at gmail dot com
7 months ago
Sending mail using XAMPP server

I encountered numerous issues while attempting to send emails using the XAMPP server. However, I eventually found the correct method to accomplish it.

Configuring PHP's mail functionality to work with Gmail's SMTP server involves editing the `php.ini` and `sendmail.ini` configuration files. Below are the formal steps for setting up PHP to send emails through Gmail's SMTP server using XAMPP:

Configuring php.ini:

1. Open `php.ini` in an editor:
Open the `php.ini` configuration file in your preferred text editor.

2. Locate the mail function:
Use the search function (Ctrl + F) to find the section related to the mail function within the `php.ini` file.

3. Update mail function settings:
Copy and paste the following configuration parameters into the mail function section. Comment out or disable all other settings related to mail.

php.ini code to be edited:
sendmail_from =
sendmail_path = write_sendmail.exe_path

4. Save the changes:
Save the `php.ini` file after applying the modifications.

Configuring sendmail.ini (in XAMPP folder):

1. Open `sendmail.ini` in XAMPP folder:
Locate and open the `sendmail.ini` configuration file within the XAMPP directory.

2. Adjust SMTP settings:
Insert the following content into the `sendmail.ini` file, marking other configurations as comments:

sendmail.ini code :

3. Save the changes:
Save the `sendmail.ini` file after inserting the specified configurations.

These steps configure PHP to utilize Gmail's SMTP server for sending emails. Ensure that the modifications are saved and that the necessary XAMPP services are restarted for the changes to take effect.

Please note that using hardcoded passwords in configuration files poses a security risk. Storing passwords directly in plain text files should be avoided in production environments. Consider using environment variables or secure credential management systems for better security practices.

Code for sending mail-:

= "Mail for checking";
$msg = "Hey! Let us play with PHP.";
$receiver = "";
mail($receiver, $subject, $msg);
php at simoneast dot net
7 years ago
Often it's helpful to find the exact error message that is triggered by the mail() function. While the function doesn't provide an error directly, you can use error_get_last() when mail() returns false.

= mail('', 'My Subject', $message);
if (!
$success) {
$errorMessage = error_get_last()['message'];

(Tested successfully on Windows which uses SMTP by default, but sendmail on Linux/OSX may not provide the same level of detail.)

Thanks to
4 years ago
If you notice wrong displayed characters in the email it's because you need to properly set the Content-Type and the Charset in the headers of the email:

= 'Content-Type: text/plain; charset=utf-8' . "\r\n";

Mostly, UTF-8 is your best choice.

You can set custom headers with the fourth parameter of the mail() function.

To make the whole thing waterproof, add the following header too:

.= 'Content-Transfer-Encoding: base64' . "\r\n";

Now you can use the combination of UTF-8 and Base64 to properly encode the subject line and the recipient name like this:

= '=?UTF-8?B?' . base64_encode('Test email with German Umlauts öäüß') . '?=';
$recipient = '=?UTF-8?B?' . base64_encode('Margret Müller') . '?= <>';

And don't forget to Base64 encode the email message too:

= base64_encode('This email contains German Umlauts öäüß.');

All references are taken from:
charles dot fisher at arconic dot com
6 years ago
I migrated an application to a platform without a local transport agent (MTA). I did not want to configure an MTA, so I wrote this xxmail function to replace mail() with calls to a remote SMTP server. Hopefully it is of some use.

function xxmail($to, $subject, $body, $headers)
$smtp = stream_socket_client('tcp://', $eno, $estr, 30);

$B = 8192;
$c = "\r\n";
$s = '';

fwrite($smtp, 'helo ' . $_ENV['HOSTNAME'] . $c);
$junk = fgets($smtp, $B);

// Envelope
fwrite($smtp, 'mail from: ' . $s . $c);
$junk = fgets($smtp, $B);
fwrite($smtp, 'rcpt to: ' . $to . $c);
$junk = fgets($smtp, $B);
fwrite($smtp, 'data' . $c);
$junk = fgets($smtp, $B);

// Header
fwrite($smtp, 'To: ' . $to . $c);
if(strlen($subject)) fwrite($smtp, 'Subject: ' . $subject . $c);
if(strlen($headers)) fwrite($smtp, $headers); // Must be \r\n (delimited)
fwrite($smtp, $headers . $c);

// Body
if(strlen($body)) fwrite($smtp, $body . $c);
fwrite($smtp, $c . '.' . $c);
$junk = fgets($smtp, $B);

// Close
fwrite($smtp, 'quit' . $c);
$junk = fgets($smtp, $B);
chris at ocproducts dot com
7 years ago
The 'sendmail' executable which PHP uses on Linux/Mac (not Windows) expects "\n" as a line separator.

This executable is a standard, and emulated by other MTAs.

"\n" is confirmed required for qmail and postfix, probably also for sendmail and exim but I have not tested.

If you pass through using "\r\n" as a separator it may appear to work, but your email will be subtly corrupted and some middleware may break. It only works because some systems will clean up your mistake.

If you are implementing DKIM be very careful, as DKIM checks will fail (at least on popular validation tools) if you screw this up. DKIM must be calculated using "\r\n" but then you must switch it all to "\n" when using the PHP mail function.

On Windows, however, you should use "\r\n" because PHP is using SMTP in this situation, and hence the normal rules of the SMTP protocol (not the normal rules of Unix piping) apply.
Mark Simon
5 years ago
It is worth noting that you can set up a fake sendmail program using the sendmail_path directive in php.ini.

Despite the comment in that file, sendmail_path also works for Window. From

This directive works also under Windows. If set, smtp, smtp_port and sendmail_from are ignored and the specified command is executed.
14 years ago
Make sure you enclose \r\n in double quotes (not single quotes!) so that PHP can translate that into the correct linefeed code
atesin > gmail
1 year ago
mail() internals:

doing some tests i can say... if sendmail_path is defined in php.ini or by ini.set(), by calling function like...

mail($to, $subject, $message, $headers, $params)

would be like if php open a shell internally, execute this command, send this text to stdin, and return true if return value == 0

shell> $sendmail_path $params
To: $to
Subject: $subject


in windows instead using php smtp which is very limited, i prefer to force use sendmail-like behavior, by setting sendmail_path and then use msmtp for windows
1 year ago
Also see chunk_split (as "alternative" to wordwrap).
pangz dot lab at gmail dot com
4 years ago
* Sending email with attachment

function sendMail(
string $fileAttachment,
string $mailMessage = MAIL_CONF["mailMessage"],
string $subject = MAIL_CONF["subject"],
string $toAddress = MAIL_CONF["toAddress"],
string $fromMail = MAIL_CONF["fromMail"]
): bool {

$fileAttachment = trim($fileAttachment);
$from = $fromMail;
$pathInfo = pathinfo($fileAttachment);
$attchmentName = "attachment_".date("YmdHms").(
(isset($pathInfo['extension']))? ".".$pathInfo['extension'] : ""

$attachment = chunk_split(base64_encode(file_get_contents($fileAttachment)));
$boundary = "PHP-mixed-".md5(time());
$boundWithPre = "\n--".$boundary;

$headers = "From: $from";
$headers .= "\nReply-To: $from";
$headers .= "\nContent-Type: multipart/mixed; boundary=\"".$boundary."\"";

$message = $boundWithPre;
$message .= "\n Content-Type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8\n";
$message .= "\n $mailMessage";

$message .= $boundWithPre;
$message .= "\nContent-Type: application/octet-stream; name=\"".$attchmentName."\"";
$message .= "\nContent-Transfer-Encoding: base64\n";
$message .= "\nContent-Disposition: attachment\n";
$message .= $attachment;
$message .= $boundWithPre."--";

return mail($toAddress, $subject, $message, $headers);

* Sending email in html

function sendHtmlMail(
string $mailMessage = MAIL_CONF["mailMessage"],
string $subject = MAIL_CONF["subject"],
array $toAddress = MAIL_CONF["toAddress"],
string $fromMail = MAIL_CONF["fromMail"]
): bool {

$to = implode(",", $toAddress);
$headers[] = 'MIME-Version: 1.0';
$headers[] = 'Content-type: text/html; charset=iso-8859-1';
$headers[] = 'To: '.$to;
$headers[] = 'From: '.$fromMail;

return mail($to, $subject, $mailMessage, implode("\r\n", $headers));
6 years ago
Send mail with minimal requirements from email services.

= "utf-8";

// Preferences for Subject field
$subject_preferences = array(
"input-charset" => $encoding,
"output-charset" => $encoding,
"line-length" => 76,
"line-break-chars" => "\r\n"

// Mail header
$header = "Content-type: text/html; charset=".$encoding." \r\n";
$header .= "From: ".$from_name." <".$from_mail."> \r\n";
$header .= "MIME-Version: 1.0 \r\n";
$header .= "Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit \r\n";
$header .= "Date: ".date("r (T)")." \r\n";
$header .= iconv_mime_encode("Subject", $mail_subject, $subject_preferences);

// Send mail
mail($mail_to, $mail_subject, $mail_message, $header);
pavel.lint at
12 years ago
Here's a small handy function I use to send email in UTF-8.

function mail_utf8($to, $from_user, $from_email,
$subject = '(No subject)', $message = '')
$from_user = "=?UTF-8?B?".base64_encode($from_user)."?=";
$subject = "=?UTF-8?B?".base64_encode($subject)."?=";

$headers = "From: $from_user <$from_email>\r\n".
"MIME-Version: 1.0" . "\r\n" .
"Content-type: text/html; charset=UTF-8" . "\r\n";

mail($to, $subject, $message, $headers);
Ben Cooke
18 years ago
Note that there is a big difference between the behavior of this function on Windows systems vs. UNIX systems. On Windows it delivers directly to an SMTP server, while on a UNIX system it uses a local command to hand off to the system's own MTA.

The upshot of all this is that on a Windows system your message and headers must use the standard line endings \r\n as prescribed by the email specs. On a UNIX system the MTA's "sendmail" interface assumes that recieved data will use UNIX line endings and will turn any \n to \r\n, so you must supply only \n to mail() on a UNIX system to avoid the MTA hypercorrecting to \r\r\n.

If you use plain old \n on a Windows system, some MTAs will get a little upset. qmail in particular will refuse outright to accept any message that has a lonely \n without an accompanying \r.
12 years ago
I was having delivery issues from this function to Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, etc. I used the notes here to figure that you need to be setting your Return-Path to a valid email to catch bounces. There are two extra delivery gotchas on top of that:

1) The domain in the email used in the -f option in the php.ini sendmail parameter or in the mail() extra parameters field, needs to have a valid SPF record for the domain (in DNS as a "TXT" record type for sure and add an additional "SPF" type record if possible). Why? That's header field being used for spam checks.

2) You should also use a domain key or DKIM. The trick here is that the domain key/DKIM is case sensitive! I used Cpanel to create my domain key which automatically used all lowercase domain names in the key creation. I found when sending email and using a camel case "-f account@MyDomainHere.Com" option, my key was not accepted. However it was accepted when I used "-f".

There are many other factors that can contribute to mail not getting to inboxes, including your own multiple failed testing attempts, so I suggest you consult each site's guidelines and don't ask me for help. These are just the couple technical issues that helped my case.

I hope this saves someone some time and headaches...
1 year ago
So far I used the following to make sure special charakters where correctly shown in the mail subject:

<?php $subject = '=?utf-8?B?' . base64_encode($subject) . '?='; ?>

But with very long subjects, the header line gets longer than 76 chars and some e-mail servers really don't like that... So this is my new solution:

<?php $subject = substr(mb_encode_mimeheader("Subject: " . $subject, 'utf-8', 'B', "\r\n", 0), 9); ?>

Please note: I added "Subject: " in front of $subject and stripped it of afterwards. This is to make sure, that the necessarry space is reserved, as PHP will add the "Subject: " itself...
rexlorenzo at gmail dot com
12 years ago
Be careful to not put extra spaces for the $headers variable.

For example, this didn't work on our servers:

$headers = "From: $from \r\n Bcc: $bcc \r\n";

But this did:

$headers = "From: $from\r\nBcc: $bcc\r\n";

Notice the removal of the spaces around the first \r\n.
andrew at my-syte dot com
1 year ago
Regarding To:

be careful not to duplicate To in the additional_headers,

lest gmail already flags it thus:

host [142.251.xx.xx]
SMTP error from remote mail server after end of data:
550-5.7.1 [] This message is not RFC 5322 compliant, the issue is:
550-5.7.1 duplicate To headers. To reduce the amount of spam sent to Gmail,
550-5.7.1 this message has been blocked. Please review
550 5.7.1 RFC 5322 specifications for more information.
Max AT
12 years ago
To define a mail sensitivity you have to put this line in the headers:

= "MIME-Version: 1.0\n" ;
$headers .= "Content-Type: text/html; charset=\"iso-8859-1\"\n";

$headers .= "Sensitivity: Personal\n";

$status = mail($to, $subject, $message,$headers);

Possible Options:
Sensitivity: Normal, Personal, Private and Company-Confidential

These will be recognised and handled in Outlook, Thunderbird and others.
php dot net at schrecktech dot com
19 years ago
When sending MIME email make sure you follow the documentation with the "70" characters per may end up with missing characters...and that is really hard to track down...
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