How to send mail from the command line?

  • 1
    ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=780509 may help you. – User Nov 12 '10 at 20:29
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    You can also use pine. – Kaveh Dec 31 '13 at 3:43
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    You can also install msmtp and follow the instructions described in the ArchWiki – thiagowfx Dec 19 '14 at 3:56
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    It's too bad the answers to this are so out of date. It's an important question that could use a good tutorial – 6005 Dec 1 '17 at 3:45
  • Re Out of date answers: I got this answer below to work, sending from a gmail account, after enabling "Less secure app access" in gmail settings, in 2020. – Ryan1729 Oct 17 '20 at 22:53

15 Answers 15


Try to install The Mutt E-mail Client. Other option is using emacs with gnus. Others options available too... IMHO, you should use more details in your questions, or several different answers to your question you will receive :-)

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    Accepted this one since it doesn't require any configuration and is quite user-friendly. – Olivier Lalonde Nov 13 '10 at 21:00
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    wait. mutt - user friendly? the craziest one-liner I've read today :) – Stann Apr 21 '11 at 22:19
  1. Install ssmtp Install ssmtp:

    sudo apt-get install ssmtp
  2. Edit the ssmtp config file:

    gksu gedit /etc/ssmtp/ssmtp.conf
  3. Append the following text:

  4. Run ssmtp and provide the recipient email address:

    ssmtp recepient_name@gmail.com
  5. Provide the message details as follows:

    To: recipient_name@gmail.com
    From: username@gmail.com
    Subject: Sent from a terminal!
    Your content goes here. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing.
    (Notice the blank space between the subject and the body.)
  6. Press Ctrl + D to send.

You can also put the text in file and send it as follows:

ssmtp recipient_name@gmail.com < filename.txt
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    It feels wierd leaving my email password exposed in some file on the computer. Is this safe? – oadams Nov 13 '10 at 2:50
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    @oadams not very safe. Use 2-step verification to lower your risk, or use a mail gateway that doesn't require a password, like your ISP's. – itsadok Mar 25 '12 at 13:54
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    Don't install ssmtp on a server with postfix installed. Postfix will be removed. Instead, just use sendmail user@example.com < file.txt which will work with either postfix or ssmtp. – Alistair Buxton Dec 9 '12 at 22:05
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    Another weird thing that I wanted to share here is, it didn't worked for me when I had a long/complex password but worked when I modified it to a simple password, strange but true. I also heard the same from someone else but tried it after lots of unsuccessful attempts to send mail & as soon as I simplified the password, to my surprise, it just worked ;) – Rajat Gupta Mar 1 '14 at 12:48
  • If Gmail doesn't allow your server to access, login to Gmail on the server with command line browser. askubuntu.com/questions/460022/using-terminal-as-a-web-browser – Sanghyun Lee Dec 28 '14 at 14:55

Most of the time you shouldn't need to configure an SMTP server you can simply use mail from the commandline (if it's not already present, install with sudo apt-get install mailutils). (Or if you're on a server where sendmail is configured, etc)

marco@dagobah:~$ mail -v marco.ceppi.use@gmail.com
Subject: Hello World!
This is an email to myself.

Hope all is well.

You terminate messages with a single . on line. That's when mail will prompt you for Cc: enter the information (or leave blank) and mail will then print out additional information on what it is attempting to do, as well as detailing the processing of connecting, transmitting, and receiving data from the mail server.

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    I would append the answer to include "sudo apt-get install mailutils" since it is not present on a clean Ubuntu 10.04 install. Also, terminating the message with a . on a single line didn't work. I had to "Ctrl-D" instead. Lastly, the message didn't go through! – Olivier Lalonde Nov 13 '10 at 20:40
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    @OlivierLalonde sudo apt-get install mailutils will install a SMTP server which is postfix, which might be a little overweighted for some people. – vaab Oct 4 '13 at 7:47
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    mailutils will also install mysql! – chmike Apr 24 '14 at 9:16
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    -v option not in my install of mail 2.99.98, also had to use Ctrl+D to end – markmnl May 17 '14 at 17:53
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    Please update this question, it is outdated. – phil294 May 18 '17 at 15:55
apt-get install libio-socket-ssl-perl libnet-ssleay-perl sendemail


sendemail -f fromuser@gmail.com -t touser@domain.com -u subject -m "message" -s smtp.gmail.com:587 -o tls=yes -xu gmailaccount@gmail.com -xp gmailpassword 

If you don't want to specify your password in the command line (generally not a good thing to do), you can omit that parameter and sendemail will prompt you for the password... and display it on the screen, but at least it won't be in your command line history.

  • 1
    Sending mail from a GMail account using sendmail most certainty very handy. Thank you. – Mark Tomlin Mar 5 '13 at 17:09
  • Find a patch here not to echo the password. – Arun Sep 9 '15 at 16:13
  • I had to specify the port with -s smtp.gmail.com:587. – Joe Mornin Mar 31 '16 at 23:19
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    add a space before a command line to not save it in the command line history – guhur Jan 5 '17 at 18:03
  • another way to not display it on the bash screen: save password to a file, then from file to environment variable, ex: pass=$(cat my_password); sendemail... -xp $name ... and of course if you're calling it programmatically you can do something similar, ex: ruby system("sendemail ... -xp #{File.read 'my_password'}...") also it might fail the first time, you should get an email to that account suggesting you "enable less secure apps" then it can work. – rogerdpack Apr 25 '17 at 21:34

You need an MTA to send mail. For this, use postfix:

sudo apt-get install postfix

To send email:

echo "test message" | mailx -s 'test subject' myemail@mydomain.com


  • You also need to install mailutils for mailx, right? – Nick Jul 15 '14 at 5:26
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    I wish it were really this simple, but unless you're someone very special, this isn't going to work. 99.9999% of ISPs will ignore mail from private postfix servers, because 9.99999 times out of 10 they're spammers. – Cerin Apr 13 '15 at 1:32
  • this didn't work for me, it asked to install mailutils when I entered this into the terminal – Mostafiz Rahman Feb 14 '16 at 5:59
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    Go ahead and install mailutils. You don't need postfix IIRC. – uav Jul 19 '18 at 13:51
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    @Cerin is right. I needed very simple mailing functionality for a cron job though. As a workaround, if you're receiving via a gmail account, you can set up a filter for the email (via keywords or the from address) and gmail will allow it to be sent. – Carrie Kendall Dec 3 '18 at 21:59

mpack is excellent commandline way of sending file attachments.

apt-get install mpack


mpack -s "file you wanted" ./data.pdf loser@supergoober.cn

Install the package sendmail then type

sendmail -t receiver@example 

then write your email then press Ctrl+D

mail -s "subjet" -a "attchedfile_name" someone@dest_email.com


cat "afile" | mail -s "subject" someone@dest_email.com
  • just to add for easy testing: echo "Hello world!" | mail -s "Hello" mail@example.org – Bohne Sep 1 '15 at 12:54
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    If someone doesn't have the mail command, just run: sudo apt-get install mailutils in Ubuntu/Debian or yum install mailx in CentOS/Redhat – Giovanni Benussi Sep 22 '16 at 13:10

You can send an email from the command line with TelNet or NetCat.

Everything is explained here.

hanoo@hp_laptop% nc 25
220 hp_laptop.localdomain ESMTP Postfix
EHLO man
250 hp_laptop.localdomain
MAIL FROM: <netcat@postfix.com>
250 2.1.0 Ok
RCPT TO: <target@host.com>
250 2.1.5 Ok
354 End data with <CR><LF>.<CR><LF>
This is the body of my mail,
this is the second line...
250 2.0.0 Ok: queued as 9C12E7F404
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    It's a little hard to use SSL when using this method ;) – jacobq Dec 30 '12 at 23:09
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    @iX3 just use swaks and you're fine with SSL/TLS, too ;-) – Germar Jun 22 '15 at 23:28
  • Or openssl s_client -starttls smtp ... – Raman Mar 7 '17 at 16:54

If you try to send e-mail from a system, whitch does not run an own e-mail-server (i. e. desktop system), you need to install something like nullmailer or esmtp, which forward your local mail to a "real" mail server.

As command line tools you can install mail or mailx (packages mailutils, heirloom-mailx or bsd-mailx). If you need attachments try biabam.

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    I like bsd-mailx for the -E command and cronjobs – Northstrider May 10 '15 at 5:46
sudo apt-get install sharutils mailutils
uuencode filename filename | mail user@example.com

where filename is the same: it stands for input file and remote file.

  • sudo apt-get install sharutils for uuencode – Janus Troelsen Oct 19 '12 at 22:53
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    mailutils installs mysql! oO – chmike Apr 24 '14 at 9:15

I have never tried it but there is a mail command that can send mail. See man mail.

To test local email:

echo message | mail username@localhost

You can try this:

mail name@mailserver.com -s "Attached file" <<EOF                 

~| uuencode $HOME/filename.txt filename.txt


It works with GNU Mailutils, check the website for more information.



sudo apt-get install ssmtp
sudo -H gedit /etc/ssmtp/ssmtp.conf

The following needs to be added there:

# The user that gets all the mails (UID < 1000, usually the admin)

# The mail server (where the mail is sent to), both port 465 or 587 should be acceptable
# See also https://support.google.com/mail/answer/78799

# The address where the mail appears to come from for user authentication.

# Use SSL/TLS before starting negotiation

# Username/Password

# Email 'From header's can override the default domain?


sudo -H gedit /etc/ssmtp/revaliases

Enter there:


Enable "less secure apps" on Gmail:

Test it by running the following on terminal:

echo "Body of mail is abc" | mail -s "Subject is xyz" "someusername@gmail.com"`

You can use cURL. Take a file like this:

From: Sunday <sunday@gmail.com>
To: Monday <monday@gmail.com>
Subject: Tuesday


and send it:

curl \
--netrc \
--mail-rcpt monday@gmail.com \
--upload-file a.txt \


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