One of the lesser known features of WordPress is the ability to update your site with posts via email. I doubt that this is a feature which many bloggers on the move will utilise in 2010 with official WordPress apps for Blackberry, iPhone and Android available. Not to mention the fact that the vast majority of mobile phones nowadays can access the internet.
Nevertheless, I’m sure that there are many of you who would love to take advantage of this feature, particularly those who want to update their blog in the quickest way possible (sending an email is always going to be quicker than using an app).
How to post to WordPress via Email
The ‘post via email’ settings area can be found at www.yoursite.com/wp-admin/options-writing.php. You need to enter your mail server details, email address and password on this page. You also have to set the category which posts are filtered into.
WordPress correctly advise you to use a secret email address. This means that you shouldn’t use a free email service such as Hotmail or use an email address which is already in use; as any emails sent to that address, spam or legitimate, would be published on your site.
Emails are not automatically published. You need to manually activate them at www.yoursite.com/wp-mail.php or use automatic browser activation. Automatic activation can be achieved by adding iframe code to the footer of your site which loads the wp-mail.php file every time your page is loaded.
Using this method, the email will be posted to your site as soon as a visitor visits your blog and loads the iframe in the footer.
An alternative to this is to set a cron task to run the wp-mail.php file every 15 or 30 minutes. This will publish your email as a post in the highly unlikely event that no one has visited your site.
Once one of these activation methods has been set up, you just need to send an email to the email address that you set up for your site. The subject field of the email will be the title of your blog post and the content of the email will be the post content.
Limitations & Plugins
There are some limitations to the way ‘post via e-mail’ works. The most problematic being that WordPress strips any HTML sent via email. This means that all formatting will disappear so paragraphs, fonts, spaces etc will all be removed. This will make reading posts sent by email very difficult. Posting by email does not support any attachments either.
Thankfully there is a fantastic plugin called Postie available which greatly extends the functionality of the post via email option. Postie allows HTML formatting and lets you email posts to any category. You can also add pictures and videos too.
Another handy plugin to consider is Email Post Activation, which saves you from manually editing your theme by automatically adding the iframe activation code to your footer.
If you are having problems setting up emails, it may be worth trying the Post via Email plugin, which sets up a @postviaemail.com email for you to use.
For most bloggers, posting via email has become a little outdated with the advent of WordPress applications for all the major mobile operating systems.
There is no denying that sending an email is both simpler and quicker though. Unfortunately, since WordPress removes all formatting, it makes the post via email feature only suitable for short posts; which is perhaps fine for a lot of people as they are more likely to be posting short posts on the move anyways.
The Postie plugin adds functionality which should really come with the default WordPress installation, so I recommend trying it out if you are planning on using the post via email feature.
As I mentioned before, posting by email has become somewhat outdated over the last few years with smartphones being able to do most blogging tasks than can be done on a computer. Whilst I do think the feature will remain in WordPress for years to come, it’s highly unlikely that it’s going to be improved or updated in future versions. There simply isn’t enough demand for it.
I’d love to hear from people who update their blog via email or plan on doing so in the future. Everyone uses WordPress in different ways so it’s good to hear about different blogging habits.
Thanks for reading :)