Common Commands use in Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP)

SMTP(Simple Mail Transfer Protocol)

SMTP simply defines how command back and forth. Each device is free to choose a software  package for implementation.

SMTP use command and responses message between Message transfer Agent client and MTA server.

SMTP is a common protocol for sending email on internet and for retrieving message its use POP and IGMP protocol.

SMTP use command and response for communication.

Each command is terminated by a two character end of line token.

Here are some commands :

HELO – sender’s host name

MAIL FORM – sender of message

RECPT TO – Intended recipient of message

DATA – body of mail

QUIT – for quit.

These five commands are compulsory use to transfer mail using SMTP.

Now some another commands are:

VRFY – name of recipient to be verified

RSET – abort current transaction

NOOP – send back a positive reply  code

These three commands are some time used but highly recommended to use.

EXPN  – expand an alias

TURN – switch role (sender and receiver)

HELP – command name

These commands are

SEND FORM – Intended recipient of the message

These commands are seldom used.

Response: It is sent from server to client. It is three digit code.

211- system status or help reply

214 – help message

220 – service ready

221 – service closing transmission channel

250 – request command complete

251 – user not local, the message will be forwarded

These are positive completion reply response. Now negative completion response are here:

421 – service not available

450 – mail Box not available

451 – command aborted: local error

452 – command aborted: insufficient storage

551 – user not local

554 – transaction fail

There are three phases for mail transfer one is connection establish second is mail transfer and third one is connection termination.

 Let us see one example using command and response.

We try to send mail using telnet and port no 25 which is well known for SMTP.

$telnet 25

220 SMTP server ready, today date            //response service ready

HELO                                                                     //HELO-sender name

250                                                        //response that command complete      

This is for connection establishes now mail transfer.

 MAIL FROM: [email protected]

  250 [email protected] Ok

  RCPT TO:[email protected]

250 [email protected] Ok

DATA hi how are you

354 OK send data ending with <CRLF><CRLF>



 Now last one is connection termination

250 Message received:[email protected]


221 mta13 SMTP server closing connection

Connection closed.

Now Main Thing IN SMTP is a its work like push only data means push protocol its send data from client to receiver bit not fetch data from server to client so to complete mail transfer we required message access protocol which is either POP3 or IMAP4.

POP3 is a post office protocol version 3. its a simple and limited functionality. In this client POP3 is installed in recipient computer and POP3 server is installed in Mail server. The client open a connection using TCP port NO 110 to fetch inbox using send username and password. And after that user can retrieve mail one by one.

POP3 use two mode delete mode and keep mode.

IMAP$ is internet Mail access Protocol version 4 similar to pop3 but provide more facility.

IN this user can search content of the email, user can create, delete rename mail, Create folder for mail also.


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