Sending Email Using .NET

One thing that many applications need to do is to send email.

.NET has quite a robust set of classes available that allow you to do this very easily. The best part about it is that not only can it be used to send email by using a standard email/smtp server, but you also can use it to send email by using a Gmail account as well.

Setting Up Gmail to Allow External Access

To allow your .NET application to send email via your Gmail account, you’ll need to do two things:

  1. You need to turn on 2 factor authentication. You can enable SMTP access without it, but the settings are global and not secured.
  2. Create an app-specific password.

Turning on 2 factor authentication is fairly straightforward. Open your Gmail inbox, click your avatar, and then click “Account”, just under your name. Scroll down until you see “2 factor authentication”; click it and follow the instructions.

Once 2 step verification is enabled, you’ll see that your security settings page now has an “App Specific Passwords” tab, as shown in Figure 1:

Figure 1: You have a new security settings tab

Click this tab, and then click the button marked “Manage App Specific Passwords”. On the next screen that appears, select “Mail” on my “Windows Computer” and click generate.

You’ll be shown the password that has been generated. At this point make sure you either add the password into your code, or write it down until you’re ready to add it. Either way, once you dismiss the dialog, you’ll be unable to get the password back, so you’ll need to delete and then re-create it.

Once you’ve generated a password, you should see something like this:

Figure 2: The password has been generated

You can revoke the access any time you like and regenerate it to get new passwords.

Once you have this set up, you then can start to use the SMTP client classes in your applications.

The Simplest Email Is Always the First

To start using the SMTP classes, you need to first import ‘System.Net’ and ‘System.Net.Mail’. This is as simple as adding:

using System.Net;
using System.Net.Mail;

to your application using clause.

To use your Gmail account from .NET, you need to use the following settings:

Server Address: SSL: Enabled Port: 587 User Name: gmail email address Password: password generated by app specific passwords

Pay particular attention to the port number here. In ALL the guides available, they tell you that the SSL/TLS port number is 465. That’s correct for most applications. For .NET, however, you MUST use the alternative port; otherwise, your program will fail to connect and give you time out errors.

To send your first email, try the following:

SmtpClient smtp = new SmtpClient("");
smtp.EnableSsl = true;
smtp.Port = 587;
smtp.Credentials = new NetworkCredential("[email protected]",
smtp.Send("[email protected]","[email protected]",
   "Email Subject", "Email message");

Using the simple method of doing this, you quickly can send plain text emails in five lines of code (two if you don’t have to enable Gmail settings).

However, there are a few more things you can do.

You can, for example, use the ‘MailMessage’ object to give you more control over your outgoing email such as adding multiple recipients and making the body of the email a HTML one. The following code shows how you might do this:

string myGmailAddress = "xxxxx";
string appSpecificPassword = "xxxxx";

SmtpClient smtp =
   new SmtpClient("");

smtp.EnableSsl = true;
smtp.Port = 587;
smtp.Credentials = new

MailMessage message = new MailMessage();
message.Sender = new MailAddress(myGmailAddress,
   "Peter Shaw");
message.From = new MailAddress(myGmailAddress,
   "Peter Shaw");

message.To.Add(new MailAddress("[email protected]",
   "Recipient Number 1"));
message.To.Add(new MailAddress("[email protected]",
   "Recipient Number 2"));
message.CC.Add(new MailAddress("[email protected]",
   "A CC Person"));
message.Bcc.Add(new MailAddress("[email protected]",
   "A BCC Person"));

message.Subject = "My HTML Formatted Email";
message.Body = "<h1>HTML Formatted EMail</h1>
   <p>DO you like this <strong>EMail</strong>
   with HTML formatting contained in its body.</p>";

message.IsBodyHtml = true;

You can also attach files to the email by using the following:

Attachment attachment = new Attachment("mypdffile.pdf",

This is just the basics. There are lots of other options you have too, such as being able to support multiple body types. Have a read through the property lists on MSDN; you might be surprised at what’s available.

If you have an idea or subject you’d like to see covered in this column, please feel free to hunt me down on Twitter as @shawty_ds, or come and find me on Linked-in where I help run one of the Larger .NET user groups called Lidnug, I’m always open to new suggestions.

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