Parsing inbound emails with Mailgun, how to

Parsing incoming emails is a common task for many web application which deals with emails, and then take decision on the parsed contents. However, piping the incoming mail stream to an external script is not everyone’s food and it needs good knowledge on shell scripting and also you need to be good with your mail server to install/configure the pipe properly. So there are third party services out there which makes it easy for you by accepting your emails to predefined mailboxes. They also parse the email and post the content over HTTP to an external script (i.e webhook) which makes the whole process a lot easier. You just outsource the email parsing to these third party providers and spend time rather on analyzing the content of the email leveraging their email->http webhook. Cloudmailin, MailNuggets, and MailGun are one the few providers which I’ve tested and they work really good with very low latency. In this article I am going to show you how to configure your free Mailgun account to accept incoming mails, parse and then accept the mail content to your php script.

Step1: Register a free account with MailGun

Don’t worry – they dont charge. And Mailgun’s free plan is quite good with 200 mails/day which is pretty good during development phase. Once you are ready, you may opt in to purchase their plans which suit you best.

Step 2: Add a domain

Free accounts are restricted to use *.mailgun.org domain for now. So just log into you Mailgun control panel and create your own domain.

Configure your Mailgun Domain

Step 2: Create a mailbox to accept incoming mails

You need to configure a mailbox to start accepting inbound emails first, so you can process them later using different rules. Just go to your mailboxes tab in the Mailgun control panel and create a new mailbox.

Creating new Mailbox

Step 4: Link your incoming emails to your external script.

This step was a little confusing at first and I really didnt understand how to achieve the result. Mailgun will automatically parse these incoming mails, which you can filter by recipients or senders or by wildcard and then forward to your external script. To do that, just go to your Routes tab in the Mailgun control panel and create a new route, like the one shown in the screenshot below.

Configuring Routes and Linking to external scripts

See the forward() function does the job where my confusion began – I was almost clueless :P

Ok we are done. Mailgun will now accept all mails to this mailbox jobs@storyteller.mailgun.org and parse the mail content including attachments, and then post the parsed contents as an array to the external PHP script we have configured in step 4. In your php script just capture those data from $_POST and do whatever you want to.

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4 thoughts on “Parsing inbound emails with Mailgun, how to

  1. Hi, thanks for your post, it is very useful for beginners. But I am facing problem in getting the mail contents using POST array.I followed your steps but I am getting blank array. What i am missing?
    Thanks.

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