Configuring WordPress to Send Email with SMTP

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SMTP stands for Simple Mail Transfer Protocol, and sending through an SMTP server means that you have set up a real email address on your system and you are allowing the web based script (wp_mail) to connect to the server with the appropriate account credentials.

By default, WordPress uses the PHP Mail function to send emails. However, it is not the best method and may decrease email deliverability. Emails may often arrive in the spam/junk folder. As an alternative, you can use SMTP to send emails.

In this article we’ll explain how to choose and configure an SMTP service, as well as how to integrate it into WordPress.

In this article


Choosing an SMTP Service

There is a wide range of free SMTP servers that can be set up on a mail client to deliver your emails.

A a public outgoing server is a good choice for daily communication. You can select among different free SMTP services. The most popular are:

When it comes to email marketing though – when you need to send a bulk message like a newsletter – things get much trickier.

In fact, a common SMTP server like Gmail is not designed to support such kind of mass emailing, because it relies on shared IPs and sets strict limits to the volume of messages and recipients that you can handle per day.

So in this case it’s better to use a premium SMTP service that can guarantee full deliverability of your emails.

Some examples of the paid services include:


Registering for an SMTP Service

Let’s set one of the free SMTP services. In our case, Gmail.

Google’s GMail SMTP server is a free service for anyone who has a GMail account. If you don’t have a GMail account, you can create one at the GMail account creation page.

When you’ve created the account, you’ll need to configure your mail client to use GMail for the outgoing mail server. As an example we’ll describe the configuration of the Thunderbird mail client.

1
Download Mozilla Thunderbird and install it on your computer.
2
Open it and go to Tools > Account Settings.
3
Under the Account Actions dropdown at the bottom left side, select Add Mail Account.
4
Enter your name in the given box. Write your email address and password in the required fields and click on the Continue button.
5
Thunderbird will try to configure your settings automatically.  We suggest to to filling in the settings manually, so click on the Stop button on the right.
6
Then click the on Manual Setup button to fill in the settings manually.
7
Click on Outgoing Server (SMTP) on the left pane. Select smtp.gmail.com (Default) from the list and click on the Edit button.
8
A small SMTP Server window will appear. Now enter the settings given below:

Outgoing Mail (SMTP) Server: smtp.gmail.com

Use Authentication: Yes

Use Secure Connection: Yes (this can be TLS or SSL depending on your mail client)

Username: your GMail account, e.g. user@gmail.com

Password: your GMail password

Port: 465 or 587

If you use Google Apps with your domain name, you should write that email account with the Username: field, e.g. user@yourdomain.com

9
On the left, click on the first option, i.e. the name of your email (user@yourdomain.com). On the right side, fill in your email address in the Account Name field. In the Outgoing Server (SMTP) dropdown, select the server setting you configured in step 8. Click OK.

Choosing an SMTP Plugin

There are many WordPress plugins that help you to integrate an SMTP service into your WordPress website. Some of them are listed below, and for this article, we’ll explain about the WP Mail SMTP plugin.

Installing the WP Mail SMTP Plugin

To install the plugin please follow these steps:

1
From the WordPress left menu, go to Plugins > Add New.

smtp service

2
In the Add Plugins page, search for WP Mail SMTP and click on Install Now.

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3
WordPress will handle the download and installation of the plugin for you. Once complete, click on Activate Plugin to activate it.

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Configure the Plugin

To add the SMTP details into the plugin:

1
From the left WordPress menu, go to Settings > Email.

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2
Fill in the form with the necessary information.

Setting Description
From Email Email address you want to send emails from – email@yourdomain.com, for example.
From Name Name that your emails will be received from.
Mailer Choose whether you want to use the default mail function or the SMTP.
Return Path Check if you want to match the return path for your emails to the sending email.
SMTP Host Hostname for your SMTP server.
SMTP Port Port your server works on.
Encryption If you have SSL/TLS encryption available for that hostname, select it here.
Authentication Check if your SMTP server requires authentication.
Username Username for your SMTP server.
Password Password for your SMTP server.

3
Click on the Save Changes button.

Testing the Plugin

If you want to test your settings, you can go to the Send a Test Email section and enter an email address that you want to send to, then click the Send Test button.

Now WordPress is configured to work with your SMTP server.

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