O'Reilly logo

PHP Cookbook by Adam Trachtenberg, David Sklar

Stay ahead with the world's most comprehensive technology and business learning platform.

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required

17.3. Reading Mail with IMAP or POP3

Problem

You want to read mail using IMAP or POP3, which allows you to create a web-based email client.

Solution

Use PHP’s IMAP extension, which speaks both IMAP and POP3:

// open IMAP connection
$mail = imap_open('{mail.server.com:143}',      'username', 'password');
// or, open POP3 connection
$mail = imap_open('{mail.server.com:110/pop3}', 'username', 'password');

// grab a list of all the mail headers
$headers = imap_headers($mail);

// grab a header object for the last message in the mailbox
$last = imap_num_msg($mail);
$header = imap_header($mail, $last);

// grab the body for the same message
$body = imap_body($mail, $last);

// close the connection
imap_close($mail);

Discussion

The underlying library PHP uses to support IMAP and POP3 offers a seemingly unending number of features that allow you to essentially write an entire mail client. With all those features, however, comes complexity. In fact, there are currently 63 different functions in PHP beginning with the word imap, and that doesn’t take into account that some also speak POP3 and NNTP.

However, the basics of talking with a mail server are straightforward. Like many features in PHP, you begin by opening the connection and grabbing a handle:

$mail = imap_open('{mail.server.com:143}', 'username', 'password');

This opens an IMAP connection to the server named mail.server.com on port 143. It also passes along a username and password as the second and third arguments.

To open a POP3 connection ...

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, interactive tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required