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Reddit.com: How do you test email when in development?

Note: This article was originally published at PHPDeveloper on 1 September 2011.
PHPDeveloper

In this recent post to Reddit, a question is asked that's an issue for many developers testing the email sending abilities of their applications - how can it be tested effectively without outside services flagging you as a possible spammer.

So how do you guys do it? My current solution is to just output the email template HTML straight to the browser, but this doesn't always work. [...] I have considered sending emails through to my GMail, but I run my tests quite often and I'm not sure Google would be too happy with the amount I send. [...] I'm sure there's a better way I can handle this without modifying my code too much. Suggestions appreciated.

Suggestions from the comments include:

  • a local SMTP/IMAP server configured to catch all emails being sent
  • Changing the address based on an environment flag
  • Using "@example.com"
  • Saving the email as a .msg file for later review

There's also suggestions of other Mac or Windows software to mimic the mail server like smtp4dev and MockStmp