One of the most commonly asked questions on WPBeginner is how to fix WordPress not sending email problem.
Many of our beginner-level users ask us why their contact form plugin is not sending emails, or why they are not seeing any WordPress notifications.
In this article, we will show you how to fix the WordPress not sending email issue, so your website can send emails more reliably and bypass the spam folder.
Why You’re Not Getting Emails from Your WordPress Site
Even if your hosting is configured to use it, many email service providers, like Gmail and others, use a variety of tools to reduce email spam. These tools try to detect that an email is really coming from the location that it claims to be from.
Emails sent by WordPress websites often fail this test.
This means that when an email is sent out from your WordPress site (contact form plugin, admin notification, etc), it may not even make it into the recipient’s spam folder, let alone the inbox.
This is why we recommend not using WordPress to send your email newsletter.
This is also the reason why we recommend everyone to use SMTP for sending emails in WordPress.
What is SMTP?
SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) is the industry standard for sending emails.
Unlike the PHP mail() function, SMTP uses proper authentication, which leads to high email deliverability.
WordPress has a WP Mail SMTP plugin that configures your WordPress site to send emails using SMTP instead of the PHP mail() function.
You can use it to connect with any popular SMTP services like SendLayer, Sendinblue, Gmail (G Suite), Office365, Amazon SES, etc.
With that said, let’s take a look at how to fix the WordPress not sending email issue.
If you’d prefer written instructions, just keep reading.
Installing the WP Mail SMTP Plugin
Whatever SMTP service you choose, you’ll need to have the WP Mail SMTP plugin installed on your site. This lets you switch WordPress from using the built-in PHP mail() function to using your SMTP service.
Next, click on WP Mail SMTP in your WordPress dashboard to configure the plugin settings.
You will need to start by entering the name and business email address you want your site’s emails to come from. Make sure you use the same email address here that you’ll be using for your SMTP mailing service.
You can choose to force emails to use this name and email address, even if other plugins, like WPForms, have different settings. WP Mail SMTP will override the other plugins’ settings.
After that, you need to choose an SMTP mailing service for your site.
For this tutorial, we’re going to set up SMTP using SendLayer. If you’d prefer to use Gmail or Office365, then we’ve got instructions on those later in this article as well.
To finish setting up WP Mail SMTP, you’ll need to create an account with SendLayer. We’ll move on to that next, and then come back to finalizing the setup on WP Mail SMTP.
Sending WordPress Emails using SendLayer
SendLayer is a reliable email service provider. They let you send a large number of emails with high deliverability.
You can use SendLayer to send up to 200 emails for free, which is more than enough for most small websites to get started.
These could be emails from your contact form, new user account details, password recovery emails, or any other emails sent through your WordPress site.
First, you’ll need to go to the SendLayer website to create an account. On the Pricing page, click on the ‘Take SendLayer for a free trial (send up to 200 emails)’ link to set up your account.
Once you’ve created an account, you’ll see your SendLayer dashboard, which looks something like this:
Now that you have a SendLayer account, let’s set up your email provider with WordPress.
Connecting Your WordPress Website with SendLayer
Before you can send emails with SendLayer, you need to authorize your domain.
This proves to email servers that you are the confirmed owner of your sending domain and that your emails are sent from a legitimate source.
To authorize your domain, click the orange ‘Add Domain’ button from the SendLayer dashboard.
On the next page, simply type your domain name into the field provided.
Then, click on the ‘Add Domain’ button.
Note: With other mailing services like Sendinblue, you need to set up a subdomain for your website first. But, SendLayer will automatically add the subdomain to the sender domain’s DNS records. So, you don’t need to add an additional subdomain when registering the domain.
Once you’ve added your domain, SendLayer will generate 5 DNS records, which are unique to your domain.
These lines of code let SendLayer authorize your domain name.
You’ll need to add these DNS records your WordPress site. This may seem complicated, but all you need to do is copy and paste them into the right place.
Next, you need to find your domain and open up the DNS records.
In Bluehost, you do this by going to Domains » My Domains. Then, click the ‘Manage’ button next to your domain.
On the next page, click the ‘DNS’ tab. Here, you’ll need to add the 4 CNAME records and 1 TXT record that were provided by SendLayer.
First, scroll down to find the CNAME section of your DNS records. It will look something like this:
Then, click ‘Add Record’.
Complete the first record as follows:
Points To (Value): Copy this from SendLayer.
TTL: 4 Hours (min)
Tips: Host Record might be called Host or Name by your web host. When adding the Host Record, be sure to only add the subdomain (sl), since Bluehost will add your domain automatically. You may need to add the Record Type, which would be CNAME.
Once you have added the first record, click on the ‘Save’ button to store your changes.
Next, continue adding the 3 other CNAME records by repeating the steps above.
After that, scroll down again to find the TXT section of your DNS records. Here, you need to add the TXT record from SendLayer.
Click the ‘Add Record’ button and complete it as follows:
TXT Value: Copy this from SendLayer.
TTL: 4 Hours (min)
Once you’re done, go ahead and save that record too.
Note: TXT Value might also be called TXT data: it’s the long piece of code in the last row of the SendLayer details. TTL could be 24 hours or 86400 seconds (both are equivalent to 1 day). If you’re using GoDaddy, set it to 1 hour.
After you’ve added your records, go back to SendLayer and check the box next to ‘I have added these DNS records and am ready to proceed.’ Then, hit the ‘Verify DNS Records’ button.
It may take 24-48 hours before SendLayer is able to verify your records, but it’s often much quicker.
If nothing happens when you click that button, the records can’t yet be verified. You can check again later to see if they’ve been verified by going to Settings » DNS Records & Settings from your SendLayer dashboard.
Here, you’ll find a list of all of your DNS records in one place. Once your domain has been successfully authorized, you’ll see green checkmarks next to each DNS record in the ‘Status’ column.
You can keep going with this tutorial while you wait for the authorization to take place.
Finishing Setting Up WP Mail SMTP to Use SendLayer
Now, go back to your WP Mail SMTP settings in your WordPress dashboard. You should have already entered the From Email and From Name, but if not, you can do that now.
Next, click on ‘SendLayer’ for your mailer.
After that, you’ll need go to your SendLayer account to find your API key.
From the SendLayer dashboard, simply go to the Settings » API Keys page. Here, you’ll see a default API key that was generated when you authorized your domain in SendLayer.
You can copy the API key from this page by clicking on the copy icon.
With that done, you can head back to your WP Mail SMTP settings and paste the API key into the field provided:
Congratulations. You’ve now set everything up. The final step is to send a test email to make sure everything is working.
Go to the ‘Email Test’ tab of WP Mail SMTP and enter an email address to send an email to. This will default to the site’s admin email. Click ‘Send Email’.
You should see the message ‘Test HTML email was sent successfully!’ Check your inbox to see whether it’s arrived. It’ll look like this:
Note: If your SendLayer account isn’t yet activated, you’ll get the message:
[permission_denied]: Unable to send email. Your SMTP account is not yet activated.
Alternative Ways to Fixing WordPress Email Issue
As you can see from the WP Mail SMTP plugin’s list of mailer options, you don’t have to use SendLayer. While it’s our top free recommendation, there are other options that you can use, including Office 365, Gmail / G Suite, Amazon SES, etc.
Using Gmail or G Suite with WP Mail SMTP to Fix WordPress Emails
If you have a Gmail or G Suite account, then you can use that to send your emails. You won’t need to enter your email login details in WordPress when you’re using the WP Mail SMTP plugin.
To use Gmail or G Suite, set up WP Mail SMTP as shown above, and then click the ‘Google’ option for your mailer.
You will need to check the ‘Return Path’ box.
After that, you will be asked to enter a ‘Client ID’ and ‘Client Secret’. To get these details, you’ll need to create a web application in your Google account. Don’t worry if that sounds a bit daunting. You can find full instructions in this article on using Gmail to send your WordPress emails.
Note: You can use this process with a regular Gmail account, but your email deliverability will be much better if you are using G Suite. See our guide on how to set up a professional email address with Gmail and G Suite.
There are a couple of key drawbacks to using Gmail or G Suite, however.
One is that you may need to contact your web host to get them to install the right certificate to get it working.
Another is that if you change the email address in the future, you’ll need to go through the entire process again. This will include creating a new web application.
Using Office 365 / Outlook with WP Mail SMTP to Fix WordPress Emails
If you use Microsoft Office 365 or Outlook for your regular email account, then you can also use that to send out emails through WordPress. This isn’t a recommended option, though, because it’s less secure.
You’ll need to set up WP Mail SMTP as above, then click the ‘Other SMTP’ option. This will open up a form to complete. Fill it out using the following settings:
SMTP Host: smtp.office365.com
SMTP Port: 587
Auto TLS: (leave switched on)
Authentication: (leave switched on)
SMTP Username: Your Office 365 account email address
SMTP Password: Your Office 365 account password
A key problem with this method is that it requires storing your password in plain text within WordPress. This isn’t secure, and your password will be visible to any other administrators on your account. You can use the instructions in the WP Mail SMTP app to record it in your wp-config.php file instead.
For more details, see the detailed guide on how to set up Outlook with WP Mail SMTP.
Using Amazon SES with WP Mail SMTP to Fix WordPress Emails
Amazon AWS platform has a Simple Email Service (SES) that you can use to fix the WordPress email issue.
The best part about Amazon is that it lets you send up to 62,000 emails every month for free. The downside is that the setup is a bit more challenging for beginners, which is why we don’t recommend it as our preferred option.
But as you can imagine, a lot of professionals and experts use Amazon SES for their WordPress email SMTP service, so we couldn’t write an article without mentioning it.
If you’re interested in setting up Amazon SES with WordPress, then see the full instructions on how to set up Amazon SES with WordPress.
Whatever mailer you decide to use, always remember to use the ‘Test Email’ tab to ensure that emails are being successfully sent.
You must make sure to check your inbox too, and confirm that you’ve received the test email.
We hope this article helped you learn how to fix WordPress not sending email issue. You may also want to see our list of the most common WordPress errors and how to fix them, or our picks of the best WooCommerce email customizer plugins.