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WordPress SMTP

How to Send Emails in WordPress using SMTP (Step by Step)

Last updated on Apr 5, 2017 by Noumaan

Did you know that sometimes your WordPress contact forms may not be sending you an email? Are you missing form notifications in email? With a few changes to your website settings, you can easily fix this problem.  In this tutorial, we’ll show you how to fix the WordPress contact form not sending email issue.

Why You Aren’t Getting Form Emails

By default, WordPress uses the PHP mail function to send emails generated by WordPress or any contact plugin like WPForms.  The most common reason for not getting emails is that your WordPress hosting server is not configured to use the PHP mail function. This is a common WordPress error.

Another common cause is that many email service providers use a variety of tools to reduce email spam. These tools often try to detect that an email is originating from the location it claims to be originating from. These settings will limit and affect emails sent out by your WordPress site.

This is why we recommend using SMTP to send emails in WordPress.  The industry standard for sending emails is SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol). Unlike the PHP mail function, SMTP increases email deliverability by using proper authentication.

Which SMTP Method Should You Use?

There are several different ways to implement SMTP on your WordPress site. We have separate step-by-step tutorials on four different methods:

  1. 3 Steps to Use Gmail to Send WordPress Emails
  2. How to Get WordPress Form Notifications Using the WP Mail SMTP Plugin
  3. How to Send WordPress Emails With Mailgun
  4. How to Setup Reliable WordPress Email Notifications with SendGrid

Picking out the best WordPress SMTP plugin for your needs doesn’t have to be confusing.

The fastest and easiest solution is to use Gmail.

If you’re also sending email newsletters, or have a very large volume of form notifications to send, then you might want to use either Mailgun’s or SendGrid’s services.  Of the two, SendGrid’s WordPress plugin has nearly twice as many users and better reviews.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the WordPress SMTP setup options.

1. Send Email Notifications with Gmail

If you have a personal blog or a small business website that does not send thousands of emails, then you can use Gmail to send WordPress emails.

Send WordPress emails via Gmail

The easiest way to send WordPress emails notifications is to use your Gmail account. You might already have a Gmail account, so this approach means you’re halfway there already.

You’ll need to enable a security setting in your Google account.  The rest is super fast and easy.  In no time, you can have your form notifications reaching email inboxes.  For detailed instructions, see our step by step tutorial: 3 Steps to Use Gmail to Send WordPress Emails.

NoteThis method will store your Gmail password in WordPress, allowing other administrators of your site to view your password.

2. Send Notifications With Your Gmail/Yahoo/Microsoft Email Address

Do you want to use a free email address like Gmail, Yahoo, or Microsoft Live/Hotmail/Outlook to send WordPress emails?

The WP Mail SMTP plugin is another method to start using SMTP on your site for free.

For detailed instructions, see our step by step tutorial on How to Get WordPress Form Notifications Using the WP Mail SMTP Plugin.

3. Send Email Notifications with Mailgun

Mailgun is a totally free option for up to 10,000 emails per month. When you grow bigger than this initial free plan, Mailgun is more affordable than the competition.


With a strong developer-focused community, Mailgun is another solution to help you receive email notifications.

For detailed instructions, see our step by step tutorial on How to Use Mailgun to Send WordPress Emails.

4. Send Email Notifications with SendGrid

When you have a large quantity of emails to send, you will need a system that can handle more than Google permits.  That’s when SendGrid will work best for you.

SendGrid allows you to send up to 3,000 emails per month free of charge, but does set a limit at 100 emails per day.


Measuring the stats of your emails is where SendGrid really shines.  With it, you can track where your emails are opened and many more details for troubleshooting.

For detailed instructions, see our step by step tutorial on How to Fix WordPress Email Notifications with SendGrid.

Troubleshooting SMTP Not Working in WordPress

Setting up email can be a little bit difficult for new WordPress users. So keep in mind that you’ll only have to set it up once!

Is your WordPress SMTP not working still? Make sure that you’re entering the correct information into the settings page. Double check that your SMTP host, port, and encryption settings are accurate.

If you’re still having trouble, contact your email service provider or the author of the plugin you are using to setup SMTP.

What are you waiting for? Get started with the most powerful WordPress forms plugin today.

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  2. Really helpful and detailed article. I followed the steps outlined and got my form finally sending mails via MailGun, and also opted to join SendGrid as well to see which I prefer. Thanks for the tutorial.

  3. Great article! I came across it while looking for ways to send newsletters from WordPress, and became more and more interested in these settings. Now, excuse me if my questions are too basic, but here I go. First of all, I am wondering if the free service of SendGrid doesn’t add any footers to emails such as “sent via sendgrid free, create an account now” or that kind of stuff that you get when you use, for example, a free Mailchimp.
    A second question would be if it is possible to combine this with a newsletter plugin for WordPress, such as “https://srd.wordpress.org/plugins/newsletter/”, hence being able to handle newsletters, suscriber lists, nametags, etc. and, at the same time, having those emails go out via Sendgrid and not PHP mail. Thanks in advance for your time and thank you for the detailed settings explanations that you provided!

    1. Not 100% sure if SendGrid adds a branded footer. But you should almost expect it on all free services.

      Yes you can combine it with a newsletter plugin as well.

  4. Great article! Question: I am trying to test out the Gmail SMTP method. In the video you use a plugin called Gmail SMTP and in the instructions you say to download Postman. It seems that we should use one or the other? Is that correct? Is one preferably to the other? Am I missing something?


  5. Thanks for the article, it helped me a lot after trying lots of ways. Im using SendGrid and its working really well.

  6. I installed the Postman plugin and the test email worked. However, when anyone fills in the WP Form on my site, it doesn’t send a confirmation email to them – I’m the only one that actually gets the notification that someone submitted completed a form.

    What can I do to fix this?

  7. I have a local server setup as an internal email system using hmailserver. How can I get WPForms to use this mail service instead of an external email service?

    Thx in advance.

    1. Hi Hemn,

      There are certainly plenty of SMTP plugin options! We’ll add that to our list of options to test out 🙂

      Thanks for the suggestion!

  8. I just discovered that we aren’t receiving most of the forms being filled out on our website, possibly due to this issue. I will follow these directions, but is there any way to recover those we may have missed out on? Thank you!

    1. Hi Michelle,

      If you’re using our Pro (paid) version, all of your entries should be stored to your site’s database and can be viewed under WPForms > Entries. However, WordPress.org policies don’t us to store entries for our Lite (free) version that get unlocked with the upgrade — and so entry data from Lite is stored only in the notification email that’s sent out.

      I apologize for any confusion over this! If you have any other questions about this, could you please let us know?


  9. I followed the directions but am still not receiving emails. Now, when a user presses “submit” the “busy” circle appears, but never goes away and I never receive an email. Where could I be going wrong?

  10. This is my problem “There was an error trying to send your message. Please try again later.”
    I already used wp mail smtp plugin but still the above error I encountered.
    What is the other way need to do?

  11. Have configured WP Mail SMTP plugin in every combination possible for GMAIL server delivery and still not working. Always get:

    SMTP Error: Password command failed: 535
    Incorrect authentication data
    SMTP Error: Could not authenticate.

    I am using actual password from GMAIL account which I can successfully access.

    Using WordPress 4.8.5
    PHP 5.4.28
    WP Mail SMTP 1.2.5

    Please advise

    1. Hi Gary,

      I’m not certain, but seems likely that Gmail is blocking access to your account. The best way to avoid SMTP issues like this for Gmail is to use our more secure option with Google’s API. This works within Google’s system, and so bypasses most of the issues we see with the ‘Other SMTP’ mailer option.

      I hope that helps!

  12. i got white screen of death, can not login to my own wordpress because it shows nothing. adding php memory limit doesnt seem to do anything. i think i need help.

    [URL removed]

    1. Hi Harga,

      I’m sorry to hear you’re encountering an issue like this, and the best next step is to contact your site’s hosting provider. They should be able to diagnose the issue (determine why this happened) and get your site up and running. This isn’t expected behavior for a site at any point, so hopefully they’ll be able to help you sort this out!

    1. Hi Ram,

      Luckily, most SMTP options can be set up with any email address. For our full list of recommended options, I’d suggest checking out this tutorial. It’s similar to the post above, but in a pro/con format so that you can hopefully identify the best fit option easily.

      Hope this helps! 🙂

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