Receiving Email

Email messages sent to your app are implemented as HTTP requests containing MIME data. To process incoming email messages, you associate email addresses with script handlers in your app configuration, then include the handlers in your app's code. Incoming email generates HTTP requests, which are passed to the appropriate scripts.

For more information on the Mail service, see the Mail API Overview

Configuring your application to receive email

When you create a new app, incoming email is disabled by default. To enable the incoming email service, you must modify your app.yaml file.

  1. Add an inbound_services section that enables the incoming email service. For example:
    - mail

    If you don't enable incoming email by including this section in your configuration file, then incoming email is disabled, and email messages sent to the app are ignored.

  2. Add mappings that associate URL-mapped email addresses with script handlers.

    Your app can receive email at addresses of the following form:

    Email messages are sent to your app as HTTP POST requests using the following URL, where [ADDRESS] is a full email address, including domain name:


    To handle incoming email in your app, map email URLs to handlers in the app.yaml file:

    - url: /_ah/mail/.+
      login: admin

    In the above example, /_ah/mail/.+ matches all email addressed to the app. If you prefer, you can set up multiple handlers for different email addresses, as in the following example:

    - url: /_ah/mail/owner@.*your_app_id\.appspotmail\.com
      login: admin
    - url: /_ah/mail/support@.*your_app_id\.appspotmail\.com
      login: admin
    - url: /_ah/mail/.+
      login: admin

    URLs of incoming email messages are matched to this list from first to last, so if an email message URL matches more than one pattern, the first matching handler will be the one executed. This allows you to include a "catchall" handler as the last mapping. The handlers run in the default module (or application version).

Handling incoming email

The Python SDK defines InboundMailHandler, a webapp class for handling incoming email. InboundMailHandler is in the google.appengine.ext.webapp.mail_handlers package.

To use InboundMailHandler:

  1. Create a subclass for InboundMailHandler and override the receive() method.
  2. Call the receive() method with an argument ofclass InboundEmailMessage, defined by the Python SDK.

For example, you can create an instance of InboundEmailMessage like this:

import logging

from google.appengine.ext.webapp.mail_handlers import InboundMailHandler
import webapp2

class LogSenderHandler(InboundMailHandler):
    def receive(self, mail_message):"Received a message from: " + mail_message.sender)

Note: Even if you are using the webapp2 framework, you still need to use the InboundMailHandler class provided by the old webapp framework. This handler is specific to the App Engine mail service, whereas webapp2 is provided by a third party.

InboundMailHandler contains a mapping() convenience class method that returns a pair matching all incoming email addresses to the mail handler (and of course you can call it on any subclass of InboundMailHandler you code):

app = webapp2.WSGIApplication([LogSenderHandler.mapping()], debug=True)

The InboundEmailMessage object (mail_message in this example) contains the email message. Its bodies() method returns the bodies within the message. If you call bodies() without arguments, it returns an iterator that yields HTML bodies first, then plain text bodies. If you want just HTML or just plain text, you can pass an argument to bodies():

plaintext_bodies = mail_message.bodies('text/plain')
html_bodies = mail_message.bodies('text/html')

for content_type, body in html_bodies:
    decoded_html = body.decode()
    # ...

The InboundEmailMessage object includes attributes to access other message fields:

  • subject contains the message subject.
  • sender is the sender's address e.g. "Nobody <>".
  • to is a comma-separated list of the message's primary recipients e.g. "Joe <>, Bill <>".
  • cc contains a comma-separated list of the cc recipients e.g. "Joe <>, Bill <>".
  • date returns the message date.
  • attachments is a list of Attachment objects, possibly empty.
  • original is the complete message, including data not exposed by the other fields such as email headers, as a Python email.message.Message.

Simulating incoming messages with the local development server

Once you set up your app to handle incoming email, you can use the development server console to simulate incoming email messages:

  1. Access the development server as an administrator by going to http://localhost:8080/_ah/login and selecting Sign in as administrator .
  2. In the development server, click Inbound Mail on the left side.
  3. Fill out the form that appears, and click Send Email.

To learn more, including how to get the development server running, see The Python Development Server.

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