Send attachments with PHP Mail()?


I need to send a pdf with mail, is it possible?

$to = "xxx";
$subject = "Subject" ;
$message = 'Example message with <b>html</b>';
$headers  = 'MIME-Version: 1.0' . "\r\n";
$headers .= 'Content-type: text/html; charset=iso-8859-1' . "\r\n";
$headers .= 'From: xxx <xxx>' . "\r\n";

What am I missing?

11/17/2014 10:24:54 PM

Accepted Answer

I agree with @MihaiIorga in the comments – use the PHPMailer script. You sound like you're rejecting it because you want the easier option. Trust me, PHPMailer is the easier option by a very large margin compared to trying to do it yourself with PHP's built-in mail() function. PHP's mail() function really isn't very good.

To use PHPMailer:

  • Download the PHPMailer script from here:
  • Extract the archive and copy the script's folder to a convenient place in your project.
  • Include the main script file -- require_once('path/to/file/class.phpmailer.php');

Now, sending emails with attachments goes from being insanely difficult to incredibly easy:

use PHPMailer\PHPMailer\PHPMailer;
use PHPMailer\PHPMailer\Exception;

$email = new PHPMailer();
$email->SetFrom('[email protected]', 'Your Name'); //Name is optional
$email->Subject   = 'Message Subject';
$email->Body      = $bodytext;
$email->AddAddress( '[email protected]' );

$file_to_attach = 'PATH_OF_YOUR_FILE_HERE';

$email->AddAttachment( $file_to_attach , 'NameOfFile.pdf' );

return $email->Send();

It's just that one line $email->AddAttachment(); -- you couldn't ask for any easier.

If you do it with PHP's mail() function, you'll be writing stacks of code, and you'll probably have lots of really difficult to find bugs.

8/24/2018 1:46:07 PM

For PHP 5.5.27 security update

$file = $path.$filename;
$content = file_get_contents( $file);
$content = chunk_split(base64_encode($content));
$uid = md5(uniqid(time()));
$name = basename($file);

// header
$header = "From: ".$from_name." <".$from_mail.">\r\n";
$header .= "Reply-To: ".$replyto."\r\n";
$header .= "MIME-Version: 1.0\r\n";
$header .= "Content-Type: multipart/mixed; boundary=\"".$uid."\"\r\n\r\n";

// message & attachment
$nmessage = "--".$uid."\r\n";
$nmessage .= "Content-type:text/plain; charset=iso-8859-1\r\n";
$nmessage .= "Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit\r\n\r\n";
$nmessage .= $message."\r\n\r\n";
$nmessage .= "--".$uid."\r\n";
$nmessage .= "Content-Type: application/octet-stream; name=\"".$filename."\"\r\n";
$nmessage .= "Content-Transfer-Encoding: base64\r\n";
$nmessage .= "Content-Disposition: attachment; filename=\"".$filename."\"\r\n\r\n";
$nmessage .= $content."\r\n\r\n";
$nmessage .= "--".$uid."--";

if (mail($mailto, $subject, $nmessage, $header)) {
    return true; // Or do something here
} else {
  return false;

Swiftmailer is another easy-to-use script that automatically protects against email injection and makes attachments a breeze. I also strongly discourage using PHP's built-in mail() function.

To use:

  • Download Swiftmailer, and place the lib folder in your project
  • Include the main file using require_once 'lib/swift_required.php';

Now add the code when you need to mail:

// Create the message
$message = Swift_Message::newInstance()
    ->setSubject('Your subject')
    ->setFrom(array('[email protected]' => 'Web Master'))
    ->setTo(array('[email protected]'))
    ->setBody('Here is the message itself')

//send the message          

More information and options can be found in the Swiftmailer Docs.


To send an email with attachment we need to use the multipart/mixed MIME type that specifies that mixed types will be included in the email. Moreover, we want to use multipart/alternative MIME type to send both plain-text and HTML version of the email.Have a look at the example:

//define the receiver of the email 
$to = '[email protected]'; 
//define the subject of the email 
$subject = 'Test email with attachment'; 
//create a boundary string. It must be unique 
//so we use the MD5 algorithm to generate a random hash 
$random_hash = md5(date('r', time())); 
//define the headers we want passed. Note that they are separated with \r\n 
$headers = "From: [email protected]\r\nReply-To: [email protected]"; 
//add boundary string and mime type specification 
$headers .= "\r\nContent-Type: multipart/mixed; boundary=\"PHP-mixed-".$random_hash."\""; 
//read the atachment file contents into a string,
//encode it with MIME base64,
//and split it into smaller chunks
$attachment = chunk_split(base64_encode(file_get_contents(''))); 
//define the body of the message. 
ob_start(); //Turn on output buffering 
--PHP-mixed-<?php echo $random_hash; ?>  
Content-Type: multipart/alternative; boundary="PHP-alt-<?php echo $random_hash; ?>" 

--PHP-alt-<?php echo $random_hash; ?>  
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1" 
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit

Hello World!!! 
This is simple text email message. 

--PHP-alt-<?php echo $random_hash; ?>  
Content-Type: text/html; charset="iso-8859-1" 
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit

<h2>Hello World!</h2> 
<p>This is something with <b>HTML</b> formatting.</p> 

--PHP-alt-<?php echo $random_hash; ?>-- 

--PHP-mixed-<?php echo $random_hash; ?>  
Content-Type: application/zip; name=""  
Content-Transfer-Encoding: base64  
Content-Disposition: attachment  

<?php echo $attachment; ?> 
--PHP-mixed-<?php echo $random_hash; ?>-- 

//copy current buffer contents into $message variable and delete current output buffer 
$message = ob_get_clean(); 
//send the email 
$mail_sent = @mail( $to, $subject, $message, $headers ); 
//if the message is sent successfully print "Mail sent". Otherwise print "Mail failed" 
echo $mail_sent ? "Mail sent" : "Mail failed"; 

As you can see, sending an email with attachment is easy to accomplish. In the preceding example we have multipart/mixed MIME type, and inside it we have multipart/alternative MIME type that specifies two versions of the email. To include an attachment to our message, we read the data from the specified file into a string, encode it with base64, split it in smaller chunks to make sure that it matches the MIME specifications and then include it as an attachment.

Taken from here.


This works for me. It also attaches multiple attachments too. easily


if ($_POST && isset($_FILES['file'])) {
    $recipient_email = "[email protected]"; //recepient
    $from_email = "[email protected]"; //from email using site domain.
    $subject = "Attachment email from your website!"; //email subject line

    $sender_name = filter_var($_POST["s_name"], FILTER_SANITIZE_STRING); //capture sender name
    $sender_email = filter_var($_POST["s_email"], FILTER_SANITIZE_STRING); //capture sender email
    $sender_message = filter_var($_POST["s_message"], FILTER_SANITIZE_STRING); //capture message
    $attachments = $_FILES['file'];

    //php validation
    if (strlen($sender_name) < 4) {
        die('Name is too short or empty');
    if (!filter_var($sender_email, FILTER_VALIDATE_EMAIL)) {
        die('Invalid email');
    if (strlen($sender_message) < 4) {
        die('Too short message! Please enter something');

    $file_count = count($attachments['name']); //count total files attached
    $boundary = md5("specialToken$4332"); // boundary token to be used

    if ($file_count > 0) { //if attachment exists
        $headers = "MIME-Version: 1.0\r\n";
        $headers .= "From:" . $from_email . "\r\n";
        $headers .= "Reply-To: " . $sender_email . "" . "\r\n";
        $headers .= "Content-Type: multipart/mixed; boundary = $boundary\r\n\r\n";

        //message text
        $body = "--$boundary\r\n";
        $body .= "Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1\r\n";
        $body .= "Content-Transfer-Encoding: base64\r\n\r\n";
        $body .= chunk_split(base64_encode($sender_message));

        for ($x = 0; $x < $file_count; $x++) {
            if (!empty($attachments['name'][$x])) {

                if ($attachments['error'][$x] > 0) { //exit script and output error if we encounter any
                    $mymsg = array(
                        1 => "The uploaded file exceeds the upload_max_filesize directive in php.ini",
                        2 => "The uploaded file exceeds the MAX_FILE_SIZE directive that was specified in the HTML form",
                        3 => "The uploaded file was only partially uploaded",
                        4 => "No file was uploaded",
                        6 => "Missing a temporary folder");

                //get file info
                $file_name = $attachments['name'][$x];
                $file_size = $attachments['size'][$x];
                $file_type = $attachments['type'][$x];

                //read file 
                $handle = fopen($attachments['tmp_name'][$x], "r");
                $content = fread($handle, $file_size);
                $encoded_content = chunk_split(base64_encode($content)); //split into smaller chunks (RFC 2045)

                $body .= "--$boundary\r\n";
                $body .= "Content-Type: $file_type; name=" . $file_name . "\r\n";
                $body .= "Content-Disposition: attachment; filename=" . $file_name . "\r\n";
                $body .= "Content-Transfer-Encoding: base64\r\n";
                $body .= "X-Attachment-Id: " . rand(1000, 99999) . "\r\n\r\n";
                $body .= $encoded_content;
    } else { //send plain email otherwise
        $headers = "From:" . $from_email . "\r\n" .
                "Reply-To: " . $sender_email . "\n" .
                "X-Mailer: PHP/" . phpversion();
        $body = $sender_message;

    $sentMail = @mail($recipient_email, $subject, $body, $headers);
    if ($sentMail) { //output success or failure messages
        die('Thank you for your email');
    } else {
        die('Could not send mail! Please check your PHP mail configuration.');

After struggling for a while with badly formatted attachments, this is the code I used:

$email = new PHPMailer();
$email->From      = '[email protected]';
$email->FromName  = 'FromName';
$email->Subject   = 'Subject';
$email->Body      = 'Body';
$email->AddAddress( '[email protected]' );
$email->AddAttachment( "/path/to/filename.ext" , "filename.ext", 'base64', 'application/octet-stream' );