Are you looking to cut down on spam emails from your WordPress site, or send email via Gmail or Google Apps from your website? Take a look at the WP Mail SMTP plugin, which forces the WordPress wp_mail() function to use SMTP instead of the PHP mail() function. In our WP Mail SMTP review, you’ll find out how this plugin can help you send email from your WordPress site on your own terms.
How the wp_mail() Function Works in WordPress
As a WordPress user, you receive a lot of mail from your WordPress site. Whenever a reader posts a comment, a post gets a pingback, or an update is ready for your approval, WordPress automatically sends an email to notify you. You might also get notification emails from your themes and plugins.
Behind the scenes, these emails are all sent using a built-in WordPress function: wp_mail().
The wp_mail() function uses the PHP function mail() to send emails from your website.
The Problem With the mail() Function
The mail() function is a built-in, default PHP function that enables the sending of email.
It’s a very simple, easy to use function — which can actually be a big problem.
The mail() function is also easy for spammers to take advantage of, hijacking it to send hundreds of emails through your website.
In fact, it’s so notoriously hackable that some hosts have even disabled the use of the mail() function altogether.
Why You Need the WP Mail SMTP Plugin
The WP Mail SMTP plugin works by bypassing the WordPress wp_mail() function and forcing it to use your SMTP settings. This means that you can set it to use whatever email you want, just by entering your SMTP options in the dashboard.
Because of the mail() function’s vulnerability to hijacking, the WP Mail SMTP plugin can help to keep your site safe. If a lot of spam emails are being sent from your website, you could get in trouble with your hosting company or get your site blacklisted.
WP Mail SMTP can also come in handy when:
- your hosting company has disabled the mail() function and WordPress can’t send email
- your web host’s settings are interfering with the delivery of mail from your WordPress site
- emails sent from your WordPress website always end up in the spam folder of recipients
- you want to set up WordPress to send email via Gmail or Google Apps (more on that below)
- messages sent via your WordPress contact forms never reach your inbox
How to Set Up WP Mail SMTP
After installing and activating the plugin, navigate to Settings » Email to get started.
Here you’ll see the options to set up your SMTP email.
Just enter the name and email address you’ll be sending from.
Under SMTP options, enter your host, port, and other required information.
At the bottom, you can send a test email to make sure you have everything set up correctly.
If anything goes wrong with your test email, the plugin will give you a detailed error message you can use for troubleshooting.
Sending Email via Gmail or Google Apps
One of the most popular uses for this plugin is to send email from your WordPress website using your Gmail or Google Apps account.
You can do this with the following settings:
- Mailer: SMTP
- SMTP Host: smtp.gmail.com
- SMTP Port: 465
- Encryption: Use SSL encryption.
- Authentication: Yes: Use SMTP authentication.
- Username: Your full Gmail address
- Password: Your Gmail password
Support and Documentation
WP Mail SMTP is one of the most popular plugins in the WordPress.org directory, and is very highly rated.
That being said, the plugin is infrequently updated and the developer is not very active in the support forums. The plugin has very few low ratings, but the ones that are there tend to be about the lack of support.
Documentation is limited to basic troubleshooting for the most common errors. This plugin seems to be best suited for more tech-savvy users who already are familiar with email settings.
With over half a million installations on WordPress sites around the web, and an average 4.6 rating on the WordPress.org plugin directory, WP Mail SMTP is a good choice for most users who need to send mail with SMTP from their WordPress site.
We believe that this plugin will be very helpful for any user having problems with mail delivery from their WordPress site.
We give WP Mail SMTP 3 out of 5 stars. Here is the breakdown of our review scores: