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Sending Emails with Nodemailer Explained

On September 15, 2022
8min read
Diana Lepilkina Content Specialist @Mailtrap
nodemailer emails

The idea of this article is to explain how to use the Node.js module Nodemaile, the next in our series of  “how to send emails with different frameworks and technologies” posts. You may also want to check our article with more options for sending emails with Node.js.

We will focus mainly on SMTP and HTML to help you prepare and test email messages to send out with your Node.js backend using Nodemailer and we’ll also review its capabilities.

Nodemailer’s creators say that it makes sending an email a piece of cake. Let’s see if they are talking about cooking or eating 🙂  

What is Nodemailer 

Nodemailer is a single module with zero dependencies for Node.js, designed for sending emails.

Its main features include (but are not limited to):

  • Platform-independence
  • Security, in particular, email delivery with TLS/STARTTLS and DKIM email authentication
  • Unicode support
  • HTML content and embedded image attachments
  • Different transport methods besides SMTP support. 


Nodemailer’s package.json file, other main .js files, folders and code can be found on their Github page.

How to use Nodemailer: From Installation

The only thing required to start using Nodemailer module is the server-side tool Node.js version 6.0 or above. You should also install Nodemailer itself but it’s really easy with the npm  or Yarn package manager.

Execute the following command in the Node.js command prompt:

npm install nodemailer --save

or

yarn add nodemailer<br>

Once completed, include it into your web application with the following code:

var nodemailer = require('nodemailer');<br>

or this if you are using ES modules:

import nodemailer from ‘nodemailer’;

How to send emails with Nodemailer?

For your app to send transactional and other types of emails with Nodemailer, there are three main steps. 

Create Nodemailer transporter 

SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) is the most common transporter, and below we will describe it in more detail, as well as demonstrate some examples. 

But there is a list of other available options:

  • Built-in transports
    • sendmail, a regular sendmail command for simple messages. It’s similar to the mail() function in PHP
    • SES , to handle large traffic of emails by sending them using Amazon SES 
    • stream, a buffer for testing purposes, to return messages.
  • External transport. To put it simply, you can create your own transportation method.

For more details, refer to the Nodemailer documentation.

With SMTP, everything is pretty straightforward. Set host, port, authentication details and method, and that’s it.

It’s also useful to verify that SMTP connection is correct at this stage: add verify(callback) call to test connection and authentication.

transporter.verify(function(error, success) {
  if (error) {
        console.log(error);
  } else {
        console.log('Server is ready to take our messages');
  }
});

For further testing instructions review the below “How to test emails with Mailtrap Email Sandbox?” section.

Set Nodemailer message options

At this point, we should specify the email sender, receiver, and the content of the message. Remember, Unicode is supported, so you can include emojis, even in the subject line! 

To send a text formatted as HTML, no extra attributes are required, just put your HTML body into the message with an html attribute. For advanced templates, you can add attachments and embed images.

Let’s take a look at this example of simple message options first:

var mailOptions = {
    from: '"Example Team" <from@example.com>',
    to: 'user1@example.com, user2@example.com',
    subject: 'Nice Nodemailer test',
    text: 'Hey there, it’s our first message sent with Nodemailer ;) ',
    html: '<b>Hey there! </b><br> This is our first message sent with Nodemailer'
};


Deliver a message with sendMail()

Once we created a transporter and configured a message, we can send it using the sendMail() method:

transport.sendMail(mailOptions, (error, info) => {
        if (error) {
            return console.log(error);
        }
        console.log('Message sent: %s', info.messageId);
});


How to test emails with Mailtrap Email Sandbox?

To test emails sent with Nodemailer, we will use Mailtrap Email Sandbox that devs use to catch emails from staging to preview.  It will catch our messages, display how they may look in a real email client, and help us inspect and debug them in a safe environment.

Mailtrap also provides BCC testing options and allows you to share your email testing results with other team members and forward emails to real and verified addresses.

Even If you don’t have an account with a sender address yet, the whole setup process takes just a couple of minutes.

Quickly sign up (it’s free):

  1. Go to the SMTP settings tab in your Inbox
  2. Copy the necessary settings 
  3. Insert them into your Node.js application script

Mailtrap offers a ready-to-use integration with Nodemailer:

  1. Select it from the Integrations section 
  2. Insert it into your application code

It already contains transporter and syntaxis attributes:

var transport = nodemailer.createTransport({
  host: "smtp.mailtrap.io",
  port: 2525,
  auth: {
    user: "1a2b3c4d5e6f7g",
    pass: "1a2b3c4d5e6f7g"
  }
});


For a wider picture of Mailtrap Email Sandbox capabilities check out our recent in-depth Mailtrap – Sendgrid comparison post.

Apart from that, you can use auto-generated email test accounts on Ethereal, which is a fake SMTP service, mostly aimed at Nodemailer users.

Additionally, Nodemailer has a NodemailerApp. It provides Sendmail replacement, but first of all, is designed to debug emails. Furthermore, NodemailerApp has a local POP3 and SMTP servers, a catchall email domain service, along with email preview capabilities.

How to use Nodemailer with Gmail?

Being one of the leading modules for sending emails from a Node.js app, it only makes sense that Nodemailer works with a top email services such as Gmail.

From a few basic installations and Gmail account configuration steps, it’s possible to send emails via Google servers. 

For detailed installation instructions check out our Nodemailer Gmail tutorial post. 

How to send attachments in email using Nodemailer?

You can add different types of data to your message in Nodemailer using the following main properties:

  • filename: the name of the attached file. Here you can use Unicode as well.
  • content:  the body of your attachment. It can be a string, a buffer, or a stream.  
  • path: path to the file, to stream it instead of including it in the message. It is a good option for big attachments.
  • href: attachment URL. Data URIs are also supported.
list: {
            // List-Help: <mailto:admin@example.com?subject=help>
            help: 'admin@example.com?subject=help',

            // List-Unsubscribe: <http://example.com> (Comment)
            unsubscribe: [
                {
                    url: 'http://example.com/unsubscribe',
                    comment: 'A short note about this url'
                },
                'unsubscribe@example.com'
            ],

            // List-ID: "comment" <example.com>
            id: {
                url: 'mylist.example.com',
                comment: 'my new list'
            }
        }
    };

Optional properties let you add specific content types or inline images.

  • contentType: if you don’t set it, it will be inferred from the filename property/
 // An array of attachments
        attachments: [
            // String attachment
            {
                filename: 'notes.txt',
                content: 'new important notes',
                contentType: 'text/plain' // optional, would be detected from the filename
            },
  • CID: inline images in the HTML message. For more details on attaching images to HTML emails, read this post. Note that the CID value should be unique.
       cid: 'note@example.com' // should be as unique as possible
            },

            // File Stream attachment
            {
                filename: 'matrix neo.gif',
                path: __dirname + '/assets/neo.gif',
                cid: 'neo@example.com' // should be as unique as possible
            }
        ],
  • Encoding: can be added to the string type of content. It will encode the content to a buffer type according to the encoding value you set (base64, binary, etc.)
 // Binary Buffer attachment
            {
                filename: 'image.png',
                content: Buffer.from(
                    'iVBORw0KGgoAAAANSUhEUgAAABAAAAAQAQMAAAAlPW0iAAAABlBMVEUAAAD/' +
                        '//+l2Z/dAAAAM0lEQVR4nGP4/5/h/1+G/58ZDrAz3D/McH8yw83NDDeNGe4U' +
                        'g9C9zwz3gVLMDA/A6P9/AFGGFyjOXZtQAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC',
                    'base64'
                )

Nodemailer examples

Let’s review and test a full message created with Nodemailer. 

Example 1. First, let’s go back to the HTML template, and check how embedded images work.

Input

var nodemailer = require('nodemailer');
var transport = nodemailer.createTransport({
  host: "smtp.mailtrap.io",
  port: 2525,
  auth: {
    user: "1a2b3c4d5e6f7g",
    pass: "1a2b3c4d5e6f7g"
  }
});

var mailOptions = {
  from: '"Example Team" <from@example.com>',
  to: 'user1@example.com, user2@example.com',
  subject: 'Nice Nodemailer test',
  text: 'Hey there, it’s our first message sent with Nodemailer ',
  html: '<b>Hey there! </b><br> This is our first message sent with Nodemailer<br /><img src="cid:uniq-mailtrap.png" alt="mailtrap" />',
  attachments: [
    {
      filename: 'mailtrap.png',
      path: __dirname + '/mailtrap.png',
      cid: 'uniq-mailtrap.png' 
    }
  ]
};
%s
transport.sendMail(mailOptions, (error, info) => {
  if (error) {
    return console.log(error);
  }
  console.log('Message sent: %s', info.messageId);
});

Output

In this example, Mailtrap has caught our message, and demonstrates how it will look in a standard email client. The image is embedded with CID into the message body and at the same time it is shown as an attachment.

Example 2.  The second example demonstrates how to add two different files (text and image) to the HTML email. Also, we have added executing mail sending in the Shell script. 

Input:

var nodemailer = require('nodemailer');


var transport = nodemailer.createTransport({
  host: "smtp.mailtrap.io",
  port: 2525,
  auth: {
    user: "1a2b3c4d5e6f7g", //example of generated by Mailtrap 
    pass: "1a2b3c4d5e6f7g" //example of generated by Mailtrap 
  }
});
 
var mailOptions = {
  from: 'from@example.com',
  to: 'test@example.com',
  subject: 'Test Nodemailer with Mailtrap',
  
  html: '<h1>Attachments</h1>',
  attachments: [
    {   // utf-8 string as an attachment
        filename: 'text.txt',
        content: 'Attachments'
    },
	{
		filename: 'logo',
		path: 'newlogo.png'
	}
  ]
};
 
transport.sendMail(mailOptions, (error, info) => {
  if (error) {
    return console.log(error);
  }
  console.log('Email sent: ' + info.response);
});

Execute in shell:

$ node index.js
Email sent: 250 2.0.0 Ok: queued

Output:

Debugging options in Nodemailer

We have walked through the main steps of sending emails with Nodemailer, checked how to add different objects to HTML messages, and there is one more option worth mentioning: for successful testing of mail sending, let’s use native debugging.

It is simple with Nodemailer: set both debug and logger to true and you will be able to see all the data which is passed to the server as an output in the console. 

This way, you will be able to analyze the email sending process and quickly fix errors, if there are any.

Specify debug options in the transporter section of the mail script in your Node.js app:

var transport = nodemailer.createTransport({
  host: "smtp.mailtrap.io",
  port: 2525,
  auth: {
    user: "1a2b3c4d5e6f7g",
    pass: "1a2b3c4d5e6f7g"
  },
  debug: true, // show debug output
  logger: true // log information in console
});

Here is what you will get in the console:

[2018-12-28 18:05:10] DEBUG Creating transport: nodemailer (5.0.0; +https://nodemailer.com/; SMTP/5.0.0[client:5.0.0])
[2018-12-28 18:05:10] DEBUG Sending mail using SMTP/5.0.0[client:5.0.0]
[2018-12-28 18:05:10] DEBUG [nJWMVEIqQCE] Resolved smtp.mailtrap.io as 54.87.153.8 [cache miss]
[2018-12-28 18:05:10] INFO  [nJWMVEIqQCE] Connection established to 54.87.153.8:2525
[2018-12-28 18:05:10] DEBUG [nJWMVEIqQCE] S: 220 smtp.mailtrap.io ESMTP ready
[2018-12-28 18:05:10] DEBUG [nJWMVEIqQCE] C: EHLO [127.0.0.1]
[2018-12-28 18:05:10] DEBUG [nJWMVEIqQCE] S: 250-smtp.mailtrap.io
[2018-12-28 18:05:10] DEBUG [nJWMVEIqQCE] S: 250-SIZE 5242880
[2018-12-28 18:05:10] DEBUG [nJWMVEIqQCE] S: 250-PIPELINING
[2018-12-28 18:05:10] DEBUG [nJWMVEIqQCE] S: 250-ENHANCEDSTATUSCODES
[2018-12-28 18:05:10] DEBUG [nJWMVEIqQCE] S: 250-8BITMIME
[2018-12-28 18:05:10] DEBUG [nJWMVEIqQCE] S: 250-DSN
[2018-12-28 18:05:10] DEBUG [nJWMVEIqQCE] S: 250-AUTH PLAIN LOGIN CRAM-MD5
[2018-12-28 18:05:10] DEBUG [nJWMVEIqQCE] S: 250 STARTTLS
[2018-12-28 18:05:10] DEBUG [nJWMVEIqQCE] C: STARTTLS
[2018-12-28 18:05:10] DEBUG [nJWMVEIqQCE] S: 220 2.0.0 Start TLS
[2018-12-28 18:05:10] INFO  [nJWMVEIqQCE] Connection upgraded with STARTTLS
[2018-12-28 18:05:10] DEBUG [nJWMVEIqQCE] C: EHLO [127.0.0.1]
[2018-12-28 18:05:11] DEBUG [nJWMVEIqQCE] S: 250-smtp.mailtrap.io
[2018-12-28 18:05:11] DEBUG [nJWMVEIqQCE] S: 250-SIZE 5242880
[2018-12-28 18:05:11] DEBUG [nJWMVEIqQCE] S: 250-PIPELINING
[2018-12-28 18:05:11] DEBUG [nJWMVEIqQCE] S: 250-ENHANCEDSTATUSCODES
[2018-12-28 18:05:11] DEBUG [nJWMVEIqQCE] S: 250-8BITMIME
[2018-12-28 18:05:11] DEBUG [nJWMVEIqQCE] S: 250-DSN
[2018-12-28 18:05:11] DEBUG [nJWMVEIqQCE] S: 250 AUTH PLAIN LOGIN CRAM-MD5
[2018-12-28 18:05:11] DEBUG [nJWMVEIqQCE] SMTP handshake finished
[2018-12-28 18:05:11] DEBUG [nJWMVEIqQCE] C: MAIL FROM:<from@example.com>
[2018-12-28 18:05:11] DEBUG [nJWMVEIqQCE] S: 250 2.1.0 Ok
[2018-12-28 18:05:11] DEBUG [nJWMVEIqQCE] C: RCPT TO:<user1@example.com>
[2018-12-28 18:05:11] DEBUG [nJWMVEIqQCE] C: RCPT TO:<user2@example.com>
[2018-12-28 18:05:11] DEBUG [nJWMVEIqQCE] S: 250 2.1.0 Ok
[2018-12-28 18:05:11] DEBUG [nJWMVEIqQCE] S: 250 2.1.0 Ok
[2018-12-28 18:05:11] DEBUG [nJWMVEIqQCE] C: DATA
[2018-12-28 18:05:11] DEBUG [nJWMVEIqQCE] S: 354 Go ahead
…
[2018-12-28 18:05:12] DEBUG [nJWMVEIqQCE] S: 250 2.0.0 Ok: queued
[2018-12-28 18:05:12] DEBUG [nJWMVEIqQCE] Closing connection to the server using "end"
Message sent: <74bfe12e-92fa-91f8-8643-a166b66c62d7@example.com>
[2018-12-28 18:05:12] INFO  [nJWMVEIqQCE] Connection closed

Nodemailer capabilities

We have reviewed how to create and send an email in Nodemailer via SMTP, experimenting with different types of content:

  • HTML
  • Tables
  • Lists
  • Attachments
  • Embedded images

What is good about Nodemailer is that it offers a bunch of various options and settings, so you can customize every piece of your email no matter if it’s an HTML with CSS one or just a plain text notification type. 

For more advanced options, there is a list of additional plugins expanding Nodemailer’s capabilities with:

  • Email templates
  • Mailer classes and utilities
  • Loggers and helpers to send authentication emails 
  • Modules to send emails using Gmail
  • Node.js implementations of various email APIs

Sending emails with Nodemailer is a piece of cake, indeed. It is straightforward and stumbling-block free. It’s a great recipe for email success!

Check out some of our other posts from the “How to send emails with different frameworks and technologies” series.

Article by Diana Lepilkina Content Specialist @Mailtrap

Comments

6 replies

Rahul Kumar

I want to create a website where I’ll send email to user in bulk. When i searched on the internet, i found that, there are some paid service available. I didn’t see pricing about nodemailer anywhere.

How much emails we can send using nodemailer in a day?

Piotr Malek

Hi Rahul. Nodemailer is free to use in the capacity that will be probably sufficient for your site (though the author encourages donations if you like the tool). (https://nodemailer.com/about/license/)

To send with Nodemailer, you need to connect a transporter that will handle the email delivery for you. With the reputable services, you can send more or less several hundreds of emails every day without fees. Most should be fairly easy to connect with Nodemailer thanks to the abundance of 3rd party transporters you’ll easily find on the web. Our summary of free options on the market could be useful: https://blog.mailtrap.io/free-smtp-servers/

John

Great article and thank you for explaining the process with nodemailer.

For others who are looking for free HTML email templates, you can find a lot of them here https://codedmails.com

Bernie

Hello. Can the path option of the attachments be a URL that leads to the file?

Pradeep

Hey,

I have integrated the Mailtrap integration in my laravel project I am able the see the mails which are triggered in mailtap dashboard but they are not delivering the mails to the user mail id provided. Can anyone help me how to debug this issue.

Piotr Malek

Hi Pradeep. This is an intended outcome, these emails are not supposed to reach the real recipients. Mailtrap is a fake SMTP server. As such, it’s able to capture emails sent from your app but it doesn’t actually pass them to mail servers – that’s why no emails will ever be received. Please read more about it in our knowledge base: https://help.mailtrap.io/article/59-troubleshooting#not-in-inbox

If you’d like to keep receiving emails into Mailtrap AND deliver them to recipients, you could use one of our premium features called Email per Inbox. You would generate an individual email address for your inbox that you could bcc with each email sent. Recipients would get all their messages and you would see a copy of each in your Mailtrap dashboard.

Comments are closed.