If you’re having issues with emails being sent/received via your WordPress website chances are it’s not configured correctly to send via an SMTP server. If it is misconfigured, the emails are likely being sent and filtered before they can arrive.

This article will cover the basics of how to use an SMTP server to send WordPress emails.

WordPress by default uses the mail function in PHP to send emails. Many shared hosting providers do not have this function configured correctly, or they have it disabled to avoid mail abuse. In any case, this will cause your WordPress emails to not be delivered.

Our SequelWP services have this enabled and configured, however, it should only ever be used for WordPress password emails to be sent as we cannot guarantee the delivery of emails. Due to this we specifically recommend you use an external mail provider to configure your site. These are services like Mailgun, Google Apps for Work, Sendgrid, or Office365.

This will be an additional service typically alongside your web hosting and the cost of this depends on how many users/accounts you will use or the number of emails you are sending.

A number of WordPress hosting providers will provide an email service with their web hosting but it’s typically unreliable and ends up costing you more due to emails not being sent/received.

Once you have an email service and have created the email address you want which will be something like [email protected] please also ensure that you’ve taken note of your mail server hostname and the SMTP port. For example, Google Mail would generally be smtp.gmail.com and port 465.

Installing the plugin

The next step is to download and install a WordPress SMTP plugin. There are a number of SMTP plugins you can use but for this, we’d recommend either Easy WP SMTP or WP Mail SMTP. For purposes of this article, we’ll use WP Mail SMTP as an example.

Once it’s downloaded and the plugin has been activated you will need to go to WP Mail SMTP > settings to configure the plugin.

Firstly, on this page, enter your Email Address and the From Name you wish the emails to appear sent from. If you choose not to use a from name, the plugin will use the default, WordPress.

Next, you’ll need to choose the mailer. As you can see there is a number of options. In this example, I’ve selected other SMTP which will very likely be the most common option. Be sure to also select the Return Path box so it sets to match the sender’s email address. Leaving this unchecked will cause bounced emails and non-delivery receipts to be lost.

Next up are the SMTP options.

For this section, you require your SMTP hostname and port. This information must be obtained from your mail hosting provider. In this example, we’re using gsuite and the SMTP hostname is smtp.gmail.com and the port is 465. Port 465 is the most commonly used SMTP port with SSL or TLS encryption.

After that, ensure authentication is enabled and enter your email address (SMTP username) and email password (SMTP password).

Make sure you click Save Settings to store the changes.

Testing the SMTP settings.

Now you’ve got WP Mail SMTP configured to send an email, you will want to test that everything is functioning as expected. On the plugins settings page click the Email Test tab.

All you need to do here is enter an email address to send to (typically just your own for testing). After that click on the Send Email button.

WP Mail SMTP will now send an email using the stored SMTP settings you entered before. You will see a success message if the email is sent correctly. If the email failed to send the log will specify the issue for you to troubleshoot.

Troubleshooting

The most common reason for errors in sending emails using SMTP details. Whether it be the host, port, or even your email address/password combination. Double-check you have entered the correct hostname and port. Also, make sure your email/password is correct.

You’ll need to double-check the encryption method you set is also correct. Typically using SSL is the most common and should generally work. However, each mail host is different and it’s best to double-check what they recommend.

If the log indicates emails are being sent but you’re not receiving them. This will typically indicate an issue with the mail host itself and they should be contacted for further assistance.

Be sure to contact us for any additional queries regarding your hosting service. We can also review your plugin settings if you’re unable to get that working too.