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19.1.11. email: Examples — Python v2.6.2 documentation

19.1.11. email: Examples¶

Here are a few examples of how to use the email package to read, write, and send simple email messages, as well as more complex MIME messages.

First, let’s see how to create and send a simple text message:

# Import smtplib for the actual sending function
import smtplib

# Import the email modules we'll need
from email.mime.text import MIMEText

# Open a plain text file for reading.  For this example, assume that
# the text file contains only ASCII characters.
fp = open(textfile, 'rb')
# Create a text/plain message
msg = MIMEText(fp.read())

# me == the sender's email address
# you == the recipient's email address
msg['Subject'] = 'The contents of %s' % textfile
msg['From'] = me
msg['To'] = you

# Send the message via our own SMTP server, but don't include the
# envelope header.
s = smtplib.SMTP()
s.sendmail(me, [you], msg.as_string())

Here’s an example of how to send a MIME message containing a bunch of family pictures that may be residing in a directory:

# Import smtplib for the actual sending function
import smtplib

# Here are the email package modules we'll need
from email.mime.image import MIMEImage
from email.mime.multipart import MIMEMultipart


# Create the container (outer) email message.
msg = MIMEMultipart()
msg['Subject'] = 'Our family reunion'
# me == the sender's email address
# family = the list of all recipients' email addresses
msg['From'] = me
msg['To'] = COMMASPACE.join(family)
msg.preamble = 'Our family reunion'

# Assume we know that the image files are all in PNG format
for file in pngfiles:
    # Open the files in binary mode.  Let the MIMEImage class automatically
    # guess the specific image type.
    fp = open(file, 'rb')
    img = MIMEImage(fp.read())

# Send the email via our own SMTP server.
s = smtplib.SMTP()
s.sendmail(me, family, msg.as_string())

Here’s an example of how to send the entire contents of a directory as an email message: [1]

#!/usr/bin/env python

"""Send the contents of a directory as a MIME message."""

import os
import sys
import smtplib
# For guessing MIME type based on file name extension
import mimetypes

from optparse import OptionParser

from email import encoders
from email.message import Message
from email.mime.audio import MIMEAudio
from email.mime.base import MIMEBase
from email.mime.image import MIMEImage
from email.mime.multipart import MIMEMultipart
from email.mime.text import MIMEText


def main():
    parser = OptionParser(usage="""\
Send the contents of a directory as a MIME message.

Usage: %prog [options]

Unless the -o option is given, the email is sent by forwarding to your local
SMTP server, which then does the normal delivery process.  Your local machine
must be running an SMTP server.
    parser.add_option('-d', '--directory',
                      type='string', action='store',
                      help="""Mail the contents of the specified directory,
                      otherwise use the current directory.  Only the regular
                      files in the directory are sent, and we don't recurse to
    parser.add_option('-o', '--output',
                      type='string', action='store', metavar='FILE',
                      help="""Print the composed message to FILE instead of
                      sending the message to the SMTP server.""")
    parser.add_option('-s', '--sender',
                      type='string', action='store', metavar='SENDER',
                      help='The value of the From: header (required)')
    parser.add_option('-r', '--recipient',
                      type='string', action='append', metavar='RECIPIENT',
                      default=[], dest='recipients',
                      help='A To: header value (at least one required)')
    opts, args = parser.parse_args()
    if not opts.sender or not opts.recipients:
    directory = opts.directory
    if not directory:
        directory = '.'
    # Create the enclosing (outer) message
    outer = MIMEMultipart()
    outer['Subject'] = 'Contents of directory %s' % os.path.abspath(directory)
    outer['To'] = COMMASPACE.join(opts.recipients)
    outer['From'] = opts.sender
    outer.preamble = 'You will not see this in a MIME-aware mail reader.\n'

    for filename in os.listdir(directory):
        path = os.path.join(directory, filename)
        if not os.path.isfile(path):
        # Guess the content type based on the file's extension.  Encoding
        # will be ignored, although we should check for simple things like
        # gzip'd or compressed files.
        ctype, encoding = mimetypes.guess_type(path)
        if ctype is None or encoding is not None:
            # No guess could be made, or the file is encoded (compressed), so
            # use a generic bag-of-bits type.
            ctype = 'application/octet-stream'
        maintype, subtype = ctype.split('/', 1)
        if maintype == 'text':
            fp = open(path)
            # Note: we should handle calculating the charset
            msg = MIMEText(fp.read(), _subtype=subtype)
        elif maintype == 'image':
            fp = open(path, 'rb')
            msg = MIMEImage(fp.read(), _subtype=subtype)
        elif maintype == 'audio':
            fp = open(path, 'rb')
            msg = MIMEAudio(fp.read(), _subtype=subtype)
            fp = open(path, 'rb')
            msg = MIMEBase(maintype, subtype)
            # Encode the payload using Base64
        # Set the filename parameter
        msg.add_header('Content-Disposition', 'attachment', filename=filename)
    # Now send or store the message
    composed = outer.as_string()
    if opts.output:
        fp = open(opts.output, 'w')
        s = smtplib.SMTP()
        s.sendmail(opts.sender, opts.recipients, composed)

if __name__ == '__main__':

Here’s an example of how to unpack a MIME message like the one above, into a directory of files:

#!/usr/bin/env python

"""Unpack a MIME message into a directory of files."""

import os
import sys
import email
import errno
import mimetypes

from optparse import OptionParser

def main():
    parser = OptionParser(usage="""\
Unpack a MIME message into a directory of files.

Usage: %prog [options] msgfile
    parser.add_option('-d', '--directory',
                      type='string', action='store',
                      help="""Unpack the MIME message into the named
                      directory, which will be created if it doesn't already
    opts, args = parser.parse_args()
    if not opts.directory:

        msgfile = args[0]
    except IndexError:

    except OSError, e:
        # Ignore directory exists error
        if e.errno <> errno.EEXIST:

    fp = open(msgfile)
    msg = email.message_from_file(fp)

    counter = 1
    for part in msg.walk():
        # multipart/* are just containers
        if part.get_content_maintype() == 'multipart':
        # Applications should really sanitize the given filename so that an
        # email message can't be used to overwrite important files
        filename = part.get_filename()
        if not filename:
            ext = mimetypes.guess_extension(part.get_content_type())
            if not ext:
                # Use a generic bag-of-bits extension
                ext = '.bin'
            filename = 'part-%03d%s' % (counter, ext)
        counter += 1
        fp = open(os.path.join(opts.directory, filename), 'wb')

if __name__ == '__main__':

Here’s an example of how to create an HTML message with an alternative plain text version: [2]

#! /usr/bin/python

import smtplib

from email.mime.multipart import MIMEMultipart
from email.mime.text import MIMEText

# me == my email address
# you == recipient's email address
me = "my@email.com"
you = "your@email.com"

# Create message container - the correct MIME type is multipart/alternative.
msg = MIMEMultipart('alternative')
msg['Subject'] = "Link"
msg['From'] = me
msg['To'] = you

# Create the body of the message (a plain-text and an HTML version).
text = "Hi!\nHow are you?\nHere is the link you wanted:\nhttp://www.python.org"
html = """\
       How are you?<br>
       Here is the <a href="http://www.python.org">link</a> you wanted.

# Record the MIME types of both parts - text/plain and text/html.
part1 = MIMEText(text, 'plain')
part2 = MIMEText(html, 'html')

# Attach parts into message container.
# According to RFC 2046, the last part of a multipart message, in this case
# the HTML message, is best and preferred.

# Send the message via local SMTP server.
s = smtplib.SMTP('localhost')
# sendmail function takes 3 arguments: sender's address, recipient's address
# and message to send - here it is sent as one string.
s.sendmail(me, you, msg.as_string())


[1]Thanks to Matthew Dixon Cowles for the original inspiration and examples.
[2]Contributed by Martin Matejek.
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