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A PHP email parser

About - Sponsors - Basics - Usage Guide - API Documentation - Upgrading to 2.0 - Contributors


A stable, standards-compliant, easy-to-use, on-demand, email message parsing library for PHP.

To include it for use in your project, install via composer:

composer require zbateson/mail-mime-parser



A huge thank you to all my sponsors. <3

If this project’s helped you, please consider sponsoring me.

Removal Notice (since 2.0.0)

getContentResourceHandle, getTextResourceHandle, and getHtmlResourceHandle have all been deprecated in 1.2.1 and removed in 2.0.0. fread() will only return a single byte of a multibyte char, and so will cause potentially unexpected results/warnings in some cases, and psr7 streams should be used instead. Note that getBinaryContentResourceHandle and getResourceHandle are still available.

Change in 2.0

Starting in 2.0, the passed resource handle or stream must remain open while the returned message object is still in use.

Old code:

$handle = fopen('file.mime', 'r');
$message = $mailParser->parse($handle);         // returns `Message`

New code:

// attaches the resource handle to the returned `IMessage` if the second parameter
// is true.  The resource handle is closed when the IMessage is destroyed.
$message = $mailParser->parse(fopen('file.mime', 'r'), true);

For a more complete list of changes, please visit the 2.0 Upgrade Guide.


MailMimeParser has minimal external dependencies. It requires mbstring to be installed and configured, and works better with iconv being available as well.

It also makes use of the pimple/pimple library for dependency injection and guzzlehttp/psr7 for streams. There are two additional sister libraries that are used as well: zbateson/stream-decorators which provides wrappers for psr7 streams, and zbateson/mb-wrapper for charset conversion and some string manipulation routines.

use ZBateson\MailMimeParser\Message;

$message = Message::parse($handleOrStreamOrString, true);
$subject = $message->getHeaderValue('Subject');
$text = $message->getTextContent();
$html = $message->getHtmlContent();
$from = $message->getHeader('From');
$fromName = $from->getName();
$fromEmail = $from->getEmail();

$to = $message->getHeader('To');
// first email address can be accessed directly
$firstToName = $to->getName();
$firstToEmail = $to->getEmail();

foreach ($to->getAllAddresses() as $addr) {
    $toName = $to->getName();
    $toEmail = $to->getEmail();

$attachment = $message->getAttachmentPart(0);
$fname = $attachment->getFilename();
$stream = $attachment->getContentStream();

There’s no need to worry about the Content-Transfer-Encoding, or how the name in an email address is encoded, or what charset was used.

And, unlike most other available email parsing libraries, MailMimeParser is its own “parser”. It does not use PHP’s imap* functions or the pecl mailparse extension.

There are numerous advantages over other libraries:

Usage Guide

For the 0.4 usage guide, click here For the 1.0 usage guide, click here

Parsing an email

To parse an email using zbateson/mail-mime-parser, pass a ZBateson\MailMimeParser\MailMimeParser object as a dependency to your class, and call parse(). The parse() method accepts a string, resource handle, or Psr7 StreamInterface stream.

Alternatively for procedural/non dependency injected usage, calling Message::from() may be easier. It accepts the same arguments as parse().

use ZBateson\MailMimeParser\MailMimeParser;
use ZBateson\MailMimeParser\Message;

// $resource = fopen('my-file.mime', 'r');
// ...
$parser = new MailMimeParser();

// parse() returns an IMessage
$message = $parser->parse($resource, true);

// alternatively:
// $string = 'an email message to load';
$message = Message::from($string, false);

Message headers

Headers are represented by ZBateson\MailMimeParser\Header\IHeader and sub-classes, depending on the type of header being parsed. In general terms:

To retrieve an IHeader object, call IMessage::getHeader() from a ZBateson\MailMimeParser\IMessage object.

// $message = $parser->parse($resource, true);
// ...

// getHeader('To') returns a ZBateson\MailMimeParser\Header\AddressHeader
$to = $message->getHeader('To');
if ($to->hasAddress('')) {
    // ...
// or to loop over AddressPart objects:
foreach ($to->getAddresses() as $address) {
    echo $address->getName() . ' ' . $address->getEmail();

For convenience, IMessage::getHeaderValue() can be used to retrieve the value of a header (for multi-part headers like email addresses, the first part’s value is returned. The value of an address is its email address, not a person’s name if present).

$contentType = $message->getHeaderValue('Content-Type');

In addition, IMessage::getHeaderParameter() can be used as a convenience method to retrieve the value of a parameter part of a ParameterHeader, for example:

// 3rd argument optionally defines a default return value
$charset = $message->getHeaderParameter(
// as opposed to
$parameterHeader = $message->getHeader('Content-Type');

// 2nd argument to getValueFor also optional, defining a default return value
$charset = $parameterHeader->getValueFor('charset', 'us-ascii');

Message parts (text, html and other attachments)

Essentially, the \ZBateson\MailMimeParser\IMessage object returned is itself a sub-class of \ZBateson\MailMimeParser\Message\Part\IMimePart. An IMessage can contain IMimePart children (which in turn could contain their own children).

Internally, IMessage maintains the structure of its parsed parts. Most users will only be interested in text parts (plain or html) and attachments. The following methods help you do just that:

IMessagePart (the base class of all parts of a message) defines useful stream and content functions, e.g.:


// $message = $parser->parse($resource, true);
// ...
$att = $message->getAttachmentPart(0);
echo $att->getContentType();
echo $att->getContent();

Example writing files to disk:

$atts = $message->getAllAttachmentParts();
foreach ($atts as $ind => $part) {
    $filename = $part->getHeaderParameter(
             '__unknown_file_name_' . $ind

    $out = fopen('/path/to/dir/' . $filename, 'w');
    $str = $part->getBinaryContentResourceHandle();
    stream_copy_to_stream($str, $out);

Reading text and html parts

As a convenient way of reading the text and HTML parts of an IMessage, use IMessage::getTextStream() and IMessage::getHtmlStream() or the shortcuts returning strings if you want strings directly IMessage::getTextContent() and IMessage::getHtmlContent()

// $message = $parser->parse($resource, true);
// ...
$txtStream = $message->getTextStream();
echo $txtStream->getContents();
// or if you know you want a string:
echo $message->getTextContent();

$htmlStream = $message->getHtmlStream();
echo $htmlStream->getContents();
// or if you know you want a string:
echo $message->getHtmlContent();

API Documentation


Special thanks to our contributors.