Troubleshooting PHPMailer Problems
Whatever problem you're having, first make sure you are using the latest PHPMailer. If you have based your code on an example you found somewhere other than here on GitHub, it's very probably outdated - base your code on the examples in the examples folder. About 90% of questions on Stack Overflow make this mistake, and is especially likely since the release of PHPMailer 6.0.
Composer saves a huge amount of work - handling package dependencies, updates and downloading, and generates a nice autoloader so you don't have to
require classes yourself. Loading via composer is the preferred method of using PHPMailer in your project. All you need to do is require the composer autoloader:
This file will only exist if you have used composer to install PHPMailer; it is not part of the PHPMailer package itself.
It's particularly important to use composer if you're using XOAUTH2 authentication since it requires many dependent classes that are satisfied by composer. The dependencies are not included by default because they are not needed by everyone and they don't work on the older PHP versions that PHPMailer supports, so you will find them in the 'suggest' section of PHPMailer's
composer.json file. You should copy those dependencies to your own
require section, then
composer update to load them and add them to your autoloader.
If you don't do this, you're likely to see errors like this:
Fatal error: Class 'League\OAuth2\Client\Provider\Google' not found in PHPMailer/get_oauth_token.php on line 24
To fix this either configure composer as described or download this class and all its dependencies and load them manually yourself.
Using PHPMailer's own autoloader
This only applies to the legacy 5.2 branch. Not so long ago, PHPMailer changed the way that it loaded classes so that it was more compatible with composer, many frameworks, and the PHP PSR-0 autoloading standard. Note that because 5.2 supports PHP back to version 5.0, we cannot support the more recent PSR-4 standard, nor can we use namespaces. Previously, PHPMailer loaded the SMTP class explicitly, and this causes problems if you want to provide your own implementation. You may have seen old scripts doing this:
If you do only that, SMTP sending will fail with a
Class 'SMTP' not found error. You need to either explicitly include the
class.smtp.php file (read the README for info on which files you need), or use the recommended approaches of using composer or the supplied autoloader, like this:
Enabling debug output
If you're using SMTP (i.e. you're calling
isSMTP()), you can get a detailed transcript of the SMTP conversation using the
SMTPDebug property. The settings are as follows:
SMTP::DEBUG_OFF(0): Normal production setting; no debug output.
SMTP::DEBUG_CLIENT(1): show client -> server messages only. Don't use this - it's very unlikely to tell you anything useful.
SMTP::DEBUG_SERVER(2): show client -> server and server -> client messages - this is usually the setting you want
SMTP::DEBUG_CONNECTION(3): As 2, but also show details about the initial connection; only use this if you're having trouble connecting (e.g. connection timing out)
SMTP::DEBUG_LOWLEVEL(4): As 3, but also shows detailed low-level traffic. Only really useful for analyzing protocol-level bugs, very verbose, probably not what you need.
Set this option by including a line like this in your script:
$mail->SMTPDebug = SMTP::DEBUG_SERVER;
The output format will adapt itself to command-line or HTML output, though you can override this using the
Debugoutput property. If you are using authentication, user IDs and passwords will be redacted in the debug output except when you use
"SMTP Error: Could not connect to SMTP host."
This may also appear as
SMTP connect() failed,
Called Mail() without being connected,
Network is unreachable (101) in debug output. This is often reported as a PHPMailer problem, but it's almost always down to local DNS failure, firewall blocking (for example as GoDaddy does), local anti-virus software, or another issue on your local network. It means that PHPMailer is unable to contact the SMTP server you have specified in the
Host property, but doesn't say exactly why. It can also be caused by not having the
openssl extension loaded (See encryption notes below).
Some techniques to diagnose the source of this error are discussed below.
Popular US hosting provider GoDaddy imposes very strict (to the point of becoming almost useless) constraints on sending an email. They block outbound SMTP to ports 25, 465 and 587 to all servers except their own. This problem is the subject of many frustrating questions on Stack Overflow. If you find your script works on your local machine, but not when you upload it to GoDaddy, this will be what's happening to you. The solution is extremely poorly documented by GoDaddy: you must send through their servers, and also disable all security features, username, and password (great, huh?!), giving you this config for PHPMailer:
$mail->isSMTP(); $mail->Host = 'localhost'; $mail->SMTPAuth = false; $mail->SMTPAutoTLS = false; $mail->Port = 25;
GoDaddy also refuses to send with a
From address belonging to any aol, gmail, yahoo, hotmail, live, aim, or msn domain (see their docs). This is because all those domains deploy SPF and DKIM anti-forgery measures, and faking your from address is forgery.
Read the SMTP transcript
If you set
SMTPDebug = SMTP::DEBUG_SERVER or higher, you will see what the remote SMTP server says. Very often this will tell you exactly what is wrong - things like "Incorrect password", or sometimes a URL of a page to help you diagnose the problem. Read what it says. Google does this a lot - see below for info about their "Allow less secure apps" setting.
These are often seen as connection timeouts, or "Temporary failure in name resolution", "could not resolve host", "getaddrinfo failed" or similar errors. Check your DNS is working by using the
dig tool (from the
dnsutils package on Debian/Ubuntu):
dig +short smtp.gmail.com
You will get something like this if your DNS is working:
gmail-smtp-msa.l.google.com. 220.127.116.11 18.104.22.168
If this fails, PHPMailer will not be able to send email because it won't be able to obtain the correct IP address to connect to. If perhaps you don't have a name in DNS, you can use an IP address directly as the hostname. To fix this you need to figure out why your DNS isn't working - perhaps you have not set up your resolvers?
Check it's there at all
Even a server with all services disabled will usually respond to simple pings, so if you know that your DNS is ok, check that the server is actually there:
You should see something like this (press ctrl-C to stop it):
PING gmail-smtp-msa.l.google.com (22.214.171.124): 56 data bytes 64 bytes from 126.96.36.199: icmp_seq=0 ttl=43 time=72.636 ms 64 bytes from 188.8.131.52: icmp_seq=1 ttl=43 time=68.841 ms 64 bytes from 184.108.40.206: icmp_seq=2 ttl=43 time=68.500 ms
Check it's a mail server
It may be that some other service is running on the SMTP port you are trying to connect to. You can check this using the
telnet tool, like this (connecting to gmail on its submission service port):
telnet smtp.gmail.com 587
This should give you something like this:
Trying 220.127.116.11... Connected to gmail-smtp-msa.l.google.com. Escape character is '^]'. 220 mx.google.com ESMTP ex2sm16805587wjd.30 - gsmtp
quit to get out of that). If port 587 doesn't work, you can try port 465 or port 25, and use whichever one works - though bear in mind that port 25 often doesn't support encryption (see encryption notes).
If it produces no output or something that doesn't start with
220, then either your server is down or you've got the wrong server.
Another thing to look out for here is that the name the mail server responds with should be related to the server you requested, as you can see in the above example - we asked for
smtp.gmail.com and got
gmail-smtp-msa.l.google.com, which looks like it's something to do with google - if instead you see something like the name of your ISP, then it could mean that your ISP's firewall is redirecting you transparently to their own mail servers, and you're likely to see authentication and TLS certificate verification failures (see below for more) because you're logging into the wrong server. This is very likely to happen on port 25, but less likely to happen on ports 465 and 587, so it's yet another reason to use encryption! For GoDaddy Cpanel servers with WHM access helps disabling "SMTP Restrictions" in "Home »Security Center »SMTP Restrictions" (This feature prevents users from bypassing the mail server to send mail. It will allow only the MTA, mailman, and root to connect to remote SMTP servers.)
If you see an error like
SMTP -> ERROR: Failed to connect to server: Permission denied (13), you may be running into SELinux preventing PHP or the web server from sending email. This is particularly likely on RedHat / Fedora / Centos. Using the
getsebool command we can check if the httpd daemon is allowed to make a connection over the network and send an email:
getsebool httpd_can_sendmail getsebool httpd_can_network_connect
This command will return a boolean on or off. If it's off, we can turn it on:
sudo setsebool -P httpd_can_sendmail 1 sudo setsebool -P httpd_can_network_connect 1
If you're running PHP-FPM via fastcgi, you may need to apply this to the fpm daemon rather than httpd.
Some service providers (including Digital Ocean) provide IPv6 connectivity for servers but block outbound SMTP over IPv6 while allowing it on IPv4. This can be worked around by setting the
Host property to an IPv4 address explicitly (the
gethostbyname function only does IPv4 lookups):
$mail->Host = gethostbyname('smtp.gmail.com');
The only issue with this approach is that you end up asking to connect to an explicit IPv4 address, which will usually cause you to fail certificate name checks. You can disable that (see
SMTPOptions elsewhere in this doc), but that should be considered a poor workaround - the right solution is to fix your network.
Note: When using the Digital Ocean service check if your SMTP port is actually unlocked, as it is a US based company it contains a series of directives not to fall into spam, so you should ask for the unlock and follow steps to confirm with Digital Ocean the Purpose of sending your emails with PHPMailer.
If your authentication is failing, there are several likely causes:
- You have the wrong username or password
- Your connection is being diverted to a different server (as above)
- You have specified authentication without encryption
Generally, you do not want to send a username or password over an unencrypted link. Some SMTP authentication schemes do add a minimal level of security (sending short hashes rather than clear text), but these provide only minimal protection, and so most servers do not allow authentication without encryption. Fix this by setting
SMTPSecure = PHPMailer::ENCRYPTION_STARTTLS and
Port = 587 as well as setting the
Gmail, OAuth2 and "Allow less secure apps"
From December 2014, Google started imposing an authentication mechanism called XOAUTH2 based on OAuth2 for access to their apps, including Gmail. This change can break both SMTP and IMAP access to Gmail, and you may receive authentication failures (often "5.7.14 Please log in via your web browser and then try again" or "Username and Password not accepted") from many email clients, including PHPMailer, Apple Mail, Outlook, Thunderbird and others. The error output may include a link to https://support.google.com/mail/bin/answer.py?answer=78754, which gives a list of possible remedies, or https://support.google.com/mail/?p=BadCredentials, which is largely unhelpful. There are two main solutions to this in PHPMailer:
- Gmail doesn't like unexpected or unfamiliar clients connecting to gmail accounts, so it may require you to log into your gmail account in your browser as usual (this will be mentioned in error output visible if you set
SMTPDebug = SMTP::DEBUG_SERVER), or to visit the unlock CAPTCHA page mentioned in their support doc.
- Enabling "Allow less secure apps" will usually solve the problem for PHPMailer, and it does not make your app significantly less secure. Reportedly, changing this setting may take an hour or more to take effect, so don't expect an immediate fix.
- PHPMailer added support for XOAUTH2 in version 5.2.11, though you must be running PHP 5.5 or later in order to use it. Documentation on how to set it up can be found on this wiki page.
You should use encryption at every opportunity, otherwise you're inviting all kinds of unpleasant possibilities for phishing, identity theft, eavesdropping, stolen credentials etc.
PHPMailer uses TLS encryption; TLS is simply the "new" (since 1998!) name for SSL. The two names are interchangeable.
The TLS / SSL config you use for email has nothing to do with any certificate you may use on your web site; you can still use encrypted email even if your site does not have a certificate.
Check you have the openssl extension
To use any kind of encryption you need the
openssl PHP extension enabled. If you don't have it installed, or it's misconfigured, you're likely to have trouble at the
STARTTLS phase of connections. Check this by looking at the output of
php -i (look for an 'openssl' section), or
openssl listed in the output of
php -m, or run this line of code:
<?php echo (extension_loaded('openssl')?'SSL loaded':'SSL not loaded')."\n"; ?>
There are two "flavours" of transport encryption available for email:
- "SMTPS", also referred to as "implicit" because it assumes that you're going to be using encryption right from the start of the connection. In PHPMailer this mode is selected by setting
SMTPSecure = PHPMailer::ENCRYPTION_SMTPS(or
'ssl'), and usually requires
Port = 465.
- "SMTP+STARTTLS", also referred to as "explicit" because it initially connects insecurely then explicitly asks for the connection to start using encryption. In PHPMailer this mode is selected by setting
SMTPSecure = PHPMailer::ENCRYPTION_STARTTLS(or
'tls'), and usually requires
Port = 587(defined in RFC6409), though it can work on any port.
SMTPS on port 465 deprecated in 1998 and was mostly only used by Microsoft; the standards recommended using SMTP+STARTTLS on port 587 instead. However, SMTPS on port 465 become a recommended solution again in 2018 in RFC8314.
$mail->SMTPSecure = PHPMailer::ENCRYPTION_STARTTLS; $mail->Host = 'smtp.gmail.com'; $mail->Port = 587;
$mail->SMTPSecure = PHPMailer::ENCRYPTION_SMTPS; $mail->Host = 'smtp.gmail.com'; $mail->Port = 465;
Don't mix up these modes;
SMTPS on port 587 or
SMTP_STARTTLS on port 465 will not work.
PHPMailer 5.2.10 introduced opportunistic TLS - if it sees that the server is advertising TLS encryption (after you have connected to the server), it enables encryption automatically, even if you have not set
SMTPSecure. This might cause issues if the server is advertising TLS with an invalid certificate, but you can turn it off with
$mail->SMTPAutoTLS = false;.
Certificate verification failure
PHP versions since 5.6 verify certificates on SSL connections. If there's a problem relating to the certificate, you will get an error like this:
Warning: stream_socket_enable_crypto(): SSL operation failed with code 1. OpenSSL Error messages: error:14090086:SSL routines:SSL3_GET_SERVER_CERTIFICATE:certificate verify failed
You may not see this error; In implicit encryption mode (SMTPS) it may be hidden because there isn't a way for the channel to show messages - SMTP+STARTTLS is generally easier to debug because of this. In an SMTP transcript this will typically be shown as trying to send a
STARTTLS command immediately followed by a
QUIT command. It will also not be shown if you set
SMTPDebug = SMTP::DEBUG_CLIENT; set it to at least
SMTP::DEBUG_SERVER to see server responses.
There are three likely explanations and solutions for this error:
- The server is publishing a bad, self-signed, or expired certificate - fix by replacing the certificate on your mail server. If you don't have access, ask whoever the admin is. You can run some diagnostic tests which will tell you whether the problem is at your end (if the tests pass) or the mail server's.
- Your ISP is transparently redirecting your SMTP traffic to a different server - this is effectively a man-in-the-middle attack and is exactly the kind of thing that TLS is designed to protect you from. An appropriate fix here is to use your ISP's server explicitly - this is especially true for GoDaddy - but you may find this interferes with your ability to use some from addresses, especially if you're using common hosts like Gmail or Yahoo.
- Your operating system or PHP configuration is using an out of date CA (certificate authority) certificate file, preventing it being able to verify a perfectly valid certificate from the server.
Checking CA certificates
First of all find out where your PHP instance gets its CA certificates from:
php -i | grep cafile openssl.cafile => /etc/ssl/cacert.pem => /etc/ssl/cacert.pem
Your location may be different, or not specified manually in your PHP config. If it's empty, it means it's relying on your OS default locations for CA certificates, and you'll need to consult your OS docs to find out where they are kept.
Ask openssl to test the connection using whatever CA cert bundle path you're using in the
echo QUIT | openssl s_client -crlf -starttls smtp -CAfile /etc/ssl/cacert.pem -connect smtp.gmail.com:587
A successful result will look like this, where the
verify return values are all
CONNECTED(00000003) depth=2 OU = GlobalSign Root CA - R2, O = GlobalSign, CN = GlobalSign verify return:1 depth=1 C = US, O = Google Trust Services, CN = Google Internet Authority G3 verify return:1 depth=0 C = US, ST = California, L = Mountain View, O = Google Inc, CN = smtp.gmail.com verify return:1 --- Certificate chain 0 s:/C=US/ST=California/L=Mountain View/O=Google Inc/CN=smtp.gmail.com i:/C=US/O=Google Trust Services/CN=Google Internet Authority G3 1 s:/C=US/O=Google Trust Services/CN=Google Internet Authority G3 i:/OU=GlobalSign Root CA - R2/O=GlobalSign/CN=GlobalSign
A bad result (suggesting you need to update or relocate your CA certs) would be:
CONNECTED(00000003) depth=1 C = US, O = Google Trust Services, CN = Google Internet Authority G3 verify error:num=20:unable to get local issuer certificate
The OpenSSL output is not especially easy to read - you may find that testssl.sh is better. Run it like this:
./testssl.sh --starttls smtp smtp.gmail.com:587
Updating CA certificates
To update your CA certificates, make sure your operating system is fully up to date - CA certs are usually updated via OS updates. Alternatively, you can download the latest CA cert file from curl, install it somewhere accessible (for example
/etc/ssl/cacert.pem) and point at it from the
curl.cainfo directives in your php.ini file (this location will vary according to your OS and PHP config; where you need to put it is beyond the scope of PHPMailer!):
openssl.cafile = /etc/ssl/cacert.pem curl.cainfo = /etc/ssl/cacert.pem
A highly recommended alternative is to use the Certainty package which ensures that you always have the latest CA cert bundle.
Failing that, you can allow insecure connections via the
SMTPOptions property introduced in PHPMailer 5.2.10 (it's possible to do this by subclassing the SMTP class in earlier versions), though this is not recommended as it defeats much of the point of using a secure transport at all:
$mail->SMTPOptions = array( 'ssl' => array( 'verify_peer' => false, 'verify_peer_name' => false, 'allow_self_signed' => true ) );
You can also change these settings globally in your php.ini, but that's a really bad idea; PHP 5.6 made this change for very good reasons.
cURL error 60
You may see the error
cURL error 60: SSL certificate problem: unable to get local issuer certificate. This may be because your CA file is out of date or missing - see above for how to fix that.
This error can also be caused if your PHP is using a libcurl compiled with libressl (a common option on homebrew), which has a bug relating to this, instead of the default openssl or OS X's built-in Secure Transport - running
curl -V will tell you what yours is compiled with, like this:
curl 7.48.0 (x86_64-apple-darwin15.4.0) libcurl/7.48.0 OpenSSL/1.0.2g zlib/1.2.5 libssh2/1.7.0 nghttp2/1.9.2
A standard OS X installation will use Secure Transport:
curl 7.43.0 (x86_64-apple-darwin15.0) libcurl/7.43.0 SecureTransport zlib/1.2.5
Testing SSL outside PHP
In order to eliminate PHP config or your code from encryption issues, you can use your local openssl installation to test the config directly using its built-in SMTP client, for example to test an explicit SMTP+STARTTLS config:
echo QUIT | openssl s_client -starttls smtp -crlf -connect smtp.gmail.com:587
or (if you're using implicit SSL on port 465)
echo QUIT | openssl s_client -connect smtp.gmail.com:465
Of course this doesn't have to be gmail's server - you can substitute any mail server name in these commands.
You should expect a response like this:
CONNECTED(00000003) depth=2 /C=US/O=GeoTrust Inc./CN=GeoTrust Global CA verify error:num=20:unable to get local issuer certificate verify return:0 --- Certificate chain 0 s:/C=US/ST=California/L=Mountain View/O=Google Inc/CN=smtp.gmail.com i:/C=US/O=Google Inc/CN=Google Internet Authority G2 1 s:/C=US/O=Google Inc/CN=Google Internet Authority G2 i:/C=US/O=GeoTrust Inc./CN=GeoTrust Global CA 2 s:/C=US/O=GeoTrust Inc./CN=GeoTrust Global CA i:/C=US/O=Equifax/OU=Equifax Secure Certificate Authority --- Server certificate -----BEGIN CERTIFICATE----- MIIEgDCCA2igAwIBAgIIQKPDG0sroxQwDQYJKoZIhvcNAQELBQAwSTELMAkGA1UE BhMCVVMxEzARBgNVBAoTCkdvb2dsZSBJbmMxJTAjBgNVBAMTHEdvb2dsZSBJbnRl ... 1cWGd2HMOapOHK+cyQP2Uuo4ZAo5Hgiy9nnDRMmvShT2dKbIv19JyrfXPguZ/E7I 6z/Z/Fi7ilSrrpx/Frd8XwRCNQJPWfd2cV6NqGLwNR2qSCA0gJaWdIvJYqITw0lL cAh6QQ== -----END CERTIFICATE----- subject=/C=US/ST=California/L=Mountain View/O=Google Inc/CN=smtp.gmail.com issuer=/C=US/O=Google Inc/CN=Google Internet Authority G2 --- No client certificate CA names sent --- SSL handshake has read 3494 bytes and written 491 bytes --- New, TLSv1/SSLv3, Cipher is AES128-SHA Server public key is 2048 bit Secure Renegotiation IS supported Compression: NONE Expansion: NONE SSL-Session: Protocol : TLSv1 Cipher : AES128-SHA Session-ID: 936F1A0663F5CE73943C00650C2FB2B9612E1F9819D38A7CD853DB9130D0E5EE Session-ID-ctx: Master-Key: C092C10C71219E0BE8358CD432120D94CA39B01EDDA8A7007B08D7E86A74B6A16B14345610255063E1B0A2DB55D86635 Key-Arg : None Start Time: 1460541074 Timeout : 300 (sec) Verify return code: 0 (ok) --- 250 SMTPUTF8
(just type "QUIT" to get out of that). Notice that the verify return code is 0, which indicates successful verification. The
verify error:num=20:unable to get local issuer certificate is not a problem.
"Could not instantiate mail function"
This means that your PHP installation is not configured to call the
mail() function correctly (e.g.
sendmail_path is not set correctly in your
php.ini), or you have no local mail server installed and configured. To fix this you need to do one or more of these things (in order of preference):
- Ideally, use
isSMTP()and send directly using SMTP; it's faster, safer, and easier to debug than using
- Install a local mail server (e.g. postfix).
- Ensure that your
sendmail_pathpoints at the sendmail binary (usually
/usr/sbin/sendmail) in your
php.ini. Note that on Ubuntu/Debian you may have multiple
/etc/php5/mods-availableand possibly other locations.
isSendmail()and set the path to the sendmail binary in PHPMailer (
$mail->Sendmail = '/usr/sbin/sendmail';). It's very unlikely this option is appropriate; evaluate other solutions first.
If you also see the message
More than one "from" person, it's likely that your php.ini's
sendmail_path property already contains a
-f parameter, and so your code is trying to add a second envelope sender, which is not allowed.
It's important that you use valid email addresses. Every place that PHPMailer accepts an email address property, it expects an RFC821-format address, not an RFC822 one, for example
addAddress will return a boolean
true if the address was accepted. Domain names containing non-ascii chars like
café.com will use IDN 'punycode' format, which can't be evaluated properly until you ask PHPMailer to
send(), so errors relating to them will appear later than for regular addresses.
Messages end up in the spam folder
It's still not working!
If any of the above checks fail, PHPMailer will not work either, and usually there's nothing that PHPMailer can do about it. So go fix your network, then try again. If you are not in control of your own firewall or DNS, you probably need to raise a support ticket with your ISP to fix this (it's very common for them to block or divert port 25 outbound). If they won't fix it, you need to replace your ISP.
Where else to get help?
Several resources are worth checking:
- The code examples provided with PHPMailer. Base your code on these, not some ancient example from 2003.
- The API docs.
- The code itself - it's very well commented.
- The issue tracker - it's very likely a problem similar to yours has happened before, so search in there before opening a ticket. If you do create an issue, be sure to include your code, preferably the minimum necessary to reproduce or define the problem so that we have a chance to see what you're seeing - saying "It doesn't work" is not a bug report!
- StackOverflow - there are a ton of PHPMailer questions on there, the vast majority of which could be fixed by reading this page! Search the questions for the error message you're seeing before posting a question. If you post a question on SO, make sure you tag it as
PHPMailerso that we will see it and please don't open an issue here as well. The issue tracker here is intended for actual bugs in PHPMailer, not problems with your server.