When you are crafting an application which is supposed to send emails to customers, it is a good idea to test its email delivery functionality. Making sure that you are not sending messages to real email addresses is a bit cumbersome. But there is a great solution to this issue – fake SMTP servers. We’ve taken a look at three of them, and here’s what we’ve found:
DevNull SMTP is a Java-based fake SMTP server. It helps you view the client-server communication and troubleshoot effectively if there is anything wrong with your application. These dummy emails don’t actually go anywhere, they are sent to the DevNull SMTP server, where you can view them, and then they get deleted. DevNull SMTP can run from your browser. Alternatively, you can download the application and run it using the command line.
MailCatcher works in a similar way. It catches all the emails sent to its server and displays them in a web interface. The setup procedure is pretty straightforward – download the program, set it according to the instructions given at the service’s website, run MailCatcher and set its SMTP instead of the default SMTP server of your app. MailCatcher shows your messages as HTML, Plain Text and Source versions. You can also download the original message to view in your email client. MailCatcher is written very simply, so if there is something you’d like to change, you can easily dive in and do it. There are a number of other great features that make MailCatcher a great tool for your email testing purposes.
Mailtrap is a fantastic service. What really sets this tool apart from the competition is that email testing isn’t the only thing it can be used for. With Mailtrap you can see how your email will be displayed in all major web email clients, test it for spam and blacklist to make sure it lands in your clients’ inboxes, organize your test emails as you like or forward them to regular inboxes.
The setup process is incredibly fast and easy. You simply set Mailtrap as your app’s SMTP server, and that’s it. You can also use one of the following popular framework configs: Symfony, Django, Ruby on Rails, JBoss, Zend Framework, etc.
Mailtrap is available for free, but only if one inbox is enough for your email testing goals. More inboxes and some other features come with two paid subscription plans. The other two services we’ve talked about here are open-source, and therefore completely free to download and use, but they don’t have all the cool features that Mailtrap has to offer. However, if you run an open source or a non-profit project, you’ll be happy to know that one of Mailtrap’s subscription plans is also available for you free of charge.