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Sending emails using PHP

As this tutorial has no doubt shown, PHP is a powerful programming language with many powerful functions. What has still to be covered in this tutorial emphasises this further.

PHP includes a set of functions that permit sending email messages using the web server that the PHP interpreter is run from.

Sending an email using PHP

PHP provides a very simple function called mail. This function takes three parameters but can also take additional parameters to extend its functionality.

The function takes three essential parameters which themselves become hearders for the email:

PHP
<?php
	mail($to, $subject, $message);
?>
		

All of these parameters are self-explanatory.

Additional mail headers

The mail function also provides support for an additional parameter for additional headers:

PHP
<?php
	mail($to, $subject, $message, $headers);
?>
		

The $headers variable is a string variable that specifies more headers for the email. The following table shows some of these headers and their purpose:

Header Purpose
From The email address that the email came from
Content-Type What type of content the email contains. For instance text/html; charset=utf-8
X-Priority The priority level of the email. This specifies how high the email should be in terms of priority in the recipient's email inbox. Use with caution.
Reply-To The address that should receive any replies.
Cc Carbon-copy (CC). Send a 'carbon-copy' of the email to a recipient.
Bcc Blind-carbon-copy (BCC). Send a 'carbon-copy' of the email blindly to a recipient.
Mime-Version Specifies the Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension (MIME) version used with the email.

Headers should be separated with the carriage return character (in UNIX it is \r).

PHP can send HTML-based emails rather than the standard text based emails using the Content-Type header:

PHP
<?php
	$content = "<strong>Hello world</strong>";
	$headers = "MIME-Version: 1.0\rContent-Type: text/html; charset=utf-8\r"
	mail($to, $subject, $message, $headers);
?>