How SMTP work

To illustrate the basic operation of SMTP, let’s walk through a common sce- nario. Suppose Alice wants to send Bob a simple ASCII message.

  1. Alice invokes her user agent for e-mail, provides Bob’s e-mail address (for example, [email protected]), composes a message, and instructs the user agent to send the message.
  2. Alice’s user agent sends the message to her mail server, where it is placed in a message queue.
  3. The client side of SMTP, running on Alice’s mail server, sees the message in the message queue. It opens a TCP connection to an SMTP server, running on Bob’s mail server.
  4. After some initial SMTP handshaking, the SMTP client sends Alice’s message into the TCP connection.
  5. At Bob’s mail server, the server side of SMTP receives the message. Bob’s mail server then places the message in Bob’s mailbox.
  6. Bob invokes his user agent to read the message at his convenience.
S: 220
S: 250 Hello, pleased to meet you
C: MAIL FROM: <[email protected]>
S: 250 [email protected] ... Sender ok
C: RCPT TO: <[email protected]>
S: 250 [email protected] ... Recipient ok
S: 354 Enter mail, end with “.” on a line by itself C: Do you like ketchup?
C: How about pickles?
C: .
S: 250 Message accepted for delivery
S: 221 closing connection

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