# email.message: Representing an email message¶

Source code: Lib/email/message.py

New in version 3.6: [1]

The central class in the email package is the EmailMessage class, imported from the email.message module. It is the base class for the email object model. EmailMessage provides the core functionality for setting and querying header fields, for accessing message bodies, and for creating or modifying structured messages.

An email message consists of headers and a payload (which is also referred to as the content). Headers are RFC 5322 or RFC 6532 style field names and values, where the field name and value are separated by a colon. The colon is not part of either the field name or the field value. The payload may be a simple text message, or a binary object, or a structured sequence of sub-messages each with their own set of headers and their own payload. The latter type of payload is indicated by the message having a MIME type such as multipart/* or message/rfc822.

The conceptual model provided by an EmailMessage object is that of an ordered dictionary of headers coupled with a payload that represents the RFC 5322 body of the message, which might be a list of sub-EmailMessage objects. In addition to the normal dictionary methods for accessing the header names and values, there are methods for accessing specialized information from the headers (for example the MIME content type), for operating on the payload, for generating a serialized version of the message, and for recursively walking over the object tree.

The EmailMessage dictionary-like interface is indexed by the header names, which must be ASCII values. The values of the dictionary are strings with some extra methods. Headers are stored and returned in case-preserving form, but field names are matched case-insensitively. Unlike a real dict, there is an ordering to the keys, and there can be duplicate keys. Additional methods are provided for working with headers that have duplicate keys.

The payload is either a string or bytes object, in the case of simple message objects, or a list of EmailMessage objects, for MIME container documents such as multipart/* and message/rfc822 message objects.

class email.message.EmailMessage(policy=default)

If policy is specified use the rules it specifies to update and serialize the representation of the message. If policy is not set, use the default policy, which follows the rules of the email RFCs except for line endings (instead of the RFC mandated \r\n, it uses the Python standard \n line endings). For more information see the policy documentation.

as_string(unixfrom=False, maxheaderlen=None, policy=None)

Return the entire message flattened as a string. When optional unixfrom is true, the envelope header is included in the returned string. unixfrom defaults to False. For backward compatibility with the base Message class maxheaderlen is accepted, but defaults to None, which means that by default the line length is controlled by the max_line_length of the policy. The policy argument may be used to override the default policy obtained from the message instance. This can be used to control some of the formatting produced by the method, since the specified policy will be passed to the Generator.

Flattening the message may trigger changes to the EmailMessage if defaults need to be filled in to complete the transformation to a string (for example, MIME boundaries may be generated or modified).

Note that this method is provided as a convenience and may not be the most useful way to serialize messages in your application, especially if you are dealing with multiple messages. See email.generator.Generator for a more flexible API for serializing messages. Note also that this method is restricted to producing messages serialized as “7 bit clean” when utf8 is False, which is the default.

Changed in version 3.6: the default behavior when maxheaderlen is not specified was changed from defaulting to 0 to defaulting to the value of max_line_length from the policy.

__str__()

Equivalent to as_string(policy=self.policy.clone(utf8=True)). Allows str(msg) to produce a string containing the serialized message in a readable format.

Changed in version 3.4: the method was changed to use utf8=True, thus producing an RFC 6531-like message representation, instead of being a direct alias for as_string().

as_bytes(unixfrom=False, policy=None)

Return the entire message flattened as a bytes object. When optional unixfrom is true, the envelope header is included in the returned string. unixfrom defaults to False. The policy argument may be used to override the default policy obtained from the message instance. This can be used to control some of the formatting produced by the method, since the specified policy will be passed to the BytesGenerator.

Flattening the message may trigger changes to the EmailMessage if defaults need to be filled in to complete the transformation to a string (for example, MIME boundaries may be generated or modified).

Note that this method is provided as a convenience and may not be the most useful way to serialize messages in your application, especially if you are dealing with multiple messages. See email.generator.BytesGenerator for a more flexible API for serializing messages.

__bytes__()

Equivalent to as_bytes(). Allows bytes(msg) to produce a bytes object containing the serialized message.

is_multipart()

Return True if the message’s payload is a list of sub-EmailMessage objects, otherwise return False. When is_multipart() returns False, the payload should be a string object (which might be a CTE encoded binary payload). Note that is_multipart() returning True does not necessarily mean that “msg.get_content_maintype() == ‘multipart’” will return the True. For example, is_multipart will return True when the EmailMessage is of type message/rfc822.

set_unixfrom(unixfrom)

Set the message’s envelope header to unixfrom, which should be a string. (See mboxMessage for a brief description of this header.)

get_unixfrom()

Return the message’s envelope header. Defaults to None if the envelope header was never set.

The following methods implement the mapping-like interface for accessing the message’s headers. Note that there are some semantic differences between these methods and a normal mapping (i.e. dictionary) interface. For example, in a dictionary there are no duplicate keys, but here there may be duplicate message headers. Also, in dictionaries there is no guaranteed order to the keys returned by keys(), but in an EmailMessage object, headers are always returned in the order they appeared in the original message, or in which they were added to the message later. Any header deleted and then re-added is always appended to the end of the header list.

These semantic differences are intentional and are biased toward convenience in the most common use cases.

Note that in all cases, any envelope header present in the message is not included in the mapping interface.

__len__()

Return the total number of headers, including duplicates.

__contains__(name)

Return true if the message object has a field named name. Matching is done without regard to case and name does not include the trailing colon. Used for the in operator. For example:

if 'message-id' in myMessage:
print('Message-ID:', myMessage['message-id'])

__getitem__(name)

Return the value of the named header field. name does not include the colon field separator. If the header is missing, None is returned; a KeyError is never raised.

Note that if the named field appears more than once in the message’s headers, exactly which of those field values will be returned is undefined. Use the get_all() method to get the values of all the extant headers named name.

Using the standard (non-compat32) policies, the returned value is an instance of a subclass of email.headerregistry.BaseHeader.

__setitem__(name, val)

Add a header to the message with field name name and value val. The field is appended to the end of the message’s existing headers.

Note that this does not overwrite or delete any existing header with the same name. If you want to ensure that the new header is the only one present in the message with field name name, delete the field first, e.g.:

del msg['subject']
msg['subject'] = 'Python roolz!'


If the policy defines certain headers to be unique (as the standard policies do), this method may raise a ValueError when an attempt is made to assign a value to such a header when one already exists. This behavior is intentional for consistency’s sake, but do not depend on it as we may choose to make such assignments do an automatic deletion of the existing header in the future.

__delitem__(name)

Delete all occurrences of the field with name name from the message’s headers. No exception is raised if the named field isn’t present in the headers.

keys()

Return a list of all the message’s header field names.

values()

Return a list of all the message’s field values.

items()

Return a list of 2-tuples containing all the message’s field headers and values.

get(name, failobj=None)

Return the value of the named header field. This is identical to __getitem__() except that optional failobj is returned if the named header is missing (failobj defaults to None).

get_all(name, failobj=None)

Return a list of all the values for the field named name. If there are no such named headers in the message, failobj is returned (defaults to None).

add_header(_name, _value, **_params)

Extended header setting. This method is similar to __setitem__() except that additional header parameters can be provided as keyword arguments. _name is the header field to add and _value is the primary value for the header.

For each item in the keyword argument dictionary _params, the key is taken as the parameter name, with underscores converted to dashes (since dashes are illegal in Python identifiers). Normally, the parameter will be added as key="value" unless the value is None, in which case only the key will be added.

If the value contains non-ASCII characters, the charset and language may be explicitly controlled by specifying the value as a three tuple in the format (CHARSET, LANGUAGE, VALUE), where CHARSET is a string naming the charset to be used to encode the value, LANGUAGE can usually be set to None or the empty string (see RFC 2231 for other possibilities), and VALUE is the string value containing non-ASCII code points. If a three tuple is not passed and the value contains non-ASCII characters, it is automatically encoded in RFC 2231 format using a CHARSET of utf-8 and a LANGUAGE of None.

Here is an example:

msg.add_header('Content-Disposition', 'attachment', filename='bud.gif')


Content-Disposition: attachment; filename="bud.gif"


An example of the extended interface with non-ASCII characters:

msg.add_header('Content-Disposition', 'attachment',
filename=('iso-8859-1', '', 'Fußballer.ppt'))

replace_header(_name, _value)

Replace a header. Replace the first header found in the message that matches _name, retaining header order and field name case of the original header. If no matching header is found, raise a KeyError.

get_content_type()

Return the message’s content type, coerced to lower case of the form maintype/subtype. If there is no Content-Type header in the message return the value returned by get_default_type(). If the Content-Type header is invalid, return text/plain.

(According to RFC 2045, messages always have a default type, get_content_type() will always return a value. RFC 2045 defines a message’s default type to be text/plain unless it appears inside a multipart/digest container, in which case it would be message/rfc822. If the Content-Type header has an invalid type specification, RFC 2045 mandates that the default type be text/plain.)

get_content_maintype()

Return the message’s main content type. This is the maintype part of the string returned by get_content_type().

get_content_subtype()

Return the message’s sub-content type. This is the subtype part of the string returned by get_content_type().

get_default_type()

Return the default content type. Most messages have a default content type of text/plain, except for messages that are subparts of multipart/digest containers. Such subparts have a default content type of message/rfc822.

set_default_type(ctype)

Set the default content type. ctype should either be text/plain or message/rfc822, although this is not enforced. The default content type is not stored in the Content-Type header, so it only affects the return value of the get_content_type methods when no Content-Type header is present in the message.

set_param(param, value, header='Content-Type', requote=True, charset=None, language='', replace=False)

Set a parameter in the Content-Type header. If the parameter already exists in the header, replace its value with value. When header is Content-Type (the default) and the header does not yet exist in the message, add it, set its value to text/plain, and append the new parameter value. Optional header specifies an alternative header to Content-Type.

If the value contains non-ASCII characters, the charset and language may be explicitly specified using the optional charset and language parameters. Optional language specifies the RFC 2231 language, defaulting to the empty string. Both charset and language should be strings. The default is to use the utf8 charset and None for the language.

If replace is False (the default) the header is moved to the end of the list of headers. If replace is True, the header will be updated in place.

Use of the requote parameter with EmailMessage objects is deprecated.

Note that existing parameter values of headers may be accessed through the params attribute of the header value (for example, msg['Content-Type'].params['charset']).

Changed in version 3.4: replace keyword was added.

del_param(param, header='content-type', requote=True)

Remove the given parameter completely from the Content-Type header. The header will be re-written in place without the parameter or its value. Optional header specifies an alternative to Content-Type.

Use of the requote parameter with EmailMessage objects is deprecated.

get_filename(failobj=None)

Return the value of the filename parameter of the Content-Disposition header of the message. If the header does not have a filename parameter, this method falls back to looking for the name parameter on the Content-Type header. If neither is found, or the header is missing, then failobj is returned. The returned string will always be unquoted as per email.utils.unquote().

get_boundary(failobj=None)

Return the value of the boundary parameter of the Content-Type header of the message, or failobj if either the header is missing, or has no boundary parameter. The returned string will always be unquoted as per email.utils.unquote().

set_boundary(boundary)

Set the boundary parameter of the Content-Type header to boundary. set_boundary() will always quote boundary if necessary. A HeaderParseError is raised if the message object has no Content-Type header.

Note that using this method is subtly different from deleting the old Content-Type header and adding a new one with the new boundary via add_header(), because set_boundary() preserves the order of the Content-Type header in the list of headers.

get_content_charset(failobj=None)

Return the charset parameter of the Content-Type header, coerced to lower case. If there is no Content-Type header, or if that header has no charset parameter, failobj is returned.

get_charsets(failobj=None)

Return a list containing the character set names in the message. If the message is a multipart, then the list will contain one element for each subpart in the payload, otherwise, it will be a list of length 1.

Each item in the list will be a string which is the value of the charset parameter in the Content-Type header for the represented subpart. If the subpart has no Content-Type header, no charset parameter, or is not of the text main MIME type, then that item in the returned list will be failobj.

is_attachment()

Return True if there is a Content-Disposition header and its (case insensitive) value is attachment, False otherwise.

Changed in version 3.4.2: is_attachment is now a method instead of a property, for consistency with is_multipart().

get_content_disposition()

Return the lowercased value (without parameters) of the message’s Content-Disposition header if it has one, or None. The possible values for this method are inline, attachment or None if the message follows RFC 2183.

New in version 3.5.

The following methods relate to interrogating and manipulating the content (payload) of the message.

walk()

The walk() method is an all-purpose generator which can be used to iterate over all the parts and subparts of a message object tree, in depth-first traversal order. You will typically use walk() as the iterator in a for loop; each iteration returns the next subpart.

Here’s an example that prints the MIME type of every part of a multipart message structure:

>>> for part in msg.walk():
...     print(part.get_content_type())
multipart/report
text/plain
message/delivery-status
text/plain
text/plain
message/rfc822
text/plain


walk iterates over the subparts of any part where is_multipart() returns True, even though msg.get_content_maintype() == 'multipart' may return False. We can see this in our example by making use of the _structure debug helper function:

>>> for part in msg.walk():
...     print(part.get_content_maintype() == 'multipart',
...           part.is_multipart())
True True
False False
False True
False False
False False
False True
False False
>>> _structure(msg)
multipart/report
text/plain
message/delivery-status
text/plain
text/plain
message/rfc822
text/plain


Here the message parts are not multiparts, but they do contain subparts. is_multipart() returns True and walk descends into the subparts.

get_body(preferencelist=('related', 'html', 'plain'))

Return the MIME part that is the best candidate to be the “body” of the message.

preferencelist must be a sequence of strings from the set related, html, and plain, and indicates the order of preference for the content type of the part returned.

Start looking for candidate matches with the object on which the get_body method is called.

If related is not included in preferencelist, consider the root part (or subpart of the root part) of any related encountered as a candidate if the (sub-)part matches a preference.

When encountering a multipart/related, check the start parameter and if a part with a matching Content-ID is found, consider only it when looking for candidate matches. Otherwise consider only the first (default root) part of the multipart/related.

If a part has a Content-Disposition header, only consider the part a candidate match if the value of the header is inline.

If none of the candidates matches any of the preferences in preferencelist, return None.

Notes: (1) For most applications the only preferencelist combinations that really make sense are ('plain',), ('html', 'plain'), and the default ('related', 'html', 'plain'). (2) Because matching starts with the object on which get_body is called, calling get_body on a multipart/related will return the object itself unless preferencelist has a non-default value. (3) Messages (or message parts) that do not specify a Content-Type or whose Content-Type header is invalid will be treated as if they are of type text/plain, which may occasionally cause get_body to return unexpected results.

iter_attachments()

Return an iterator over all of the immediate sub-parts of the message that are not candidate “body” parts. That is, skip the first occurrence of each of text/plain, text/html, multipart/related, or multipart/alternative (unless they are explicitly marked as attachments via Content-Disposition: attachment), and return all remaining parts. When applied directly to a multipart/related, return an iterator over the all the related parts except the root part (ie: the part pointed to by the start parameter, or the first part if there is no start parameter or the start parameter doesn’t match the Content-ID of any of the parts). When applied directly to a multipart/alternative or a non-multipart, return an empty iterator.

iter_parts()

Return an iterator over all of the immediate sub-parts of the message, which will be empty for a non-multipart. (See also walk().)

get_content(*args, content_manager=None, **kw)

Call the get_content() method of the content_manager, passing self as the message object, and passing along any other arguments or keywords as additional arguments. If content_manager is not specified, use the content_manager specified by the current policy.

set_content(*args, content_manager=None, **kw)

Call the set_content() method of the content_manager, passing self as the message object, and passing along any other arguments or keywords as additional arguments. If content_manager is not specified, use the content_manager specified by the current policy.

Convert a non-multipart message into a multipart/related message, moving any existing Content- headers and payload into a (new) first part of the multipart. If boundary is specified, use it as the boundary string in the multipart, otherwise leave the boundary to be automatically created when it is needed (for example, when the message is serialized).

make_alternative(boundary=None)

Convert a non-multipart or a multipart/related into a multipart/alternative, moving any existing Content- headers and payload into a (new) first part of the multipart. If boundary is specified, use it as the boundary string in the multipart, otherwise leave the boundary to be automatically created when it is needed (for example, when the message is serialized).

make_mixed(boundary=None)

Convert a non-multipart, a multipart/related, or a multipart-alternative into a multipart/mixed, moving any existing Content- headers and payload into a (new) first part of the multipart. If boundary is specified, use it as the boundary string in the multipart, otherwise leave the boundary to be automatically created when it is needed (for example, when the message is serialized).

If the message is a multipart/related, create a new message object, pass all of the arguments to its set_content() method, and attach() it to the multipart. If the message is a non-multipart, call make_related() and then proceed as above. If the message is any other type of multipart, raise a TypeError. If content_manager is not specified, use the content_manager specified by the current policy. If the added part has no Content-Disposition header, add one with the value inline.

add_alternative(*args, content_manager=None, **kw)

If the message is a multipart/alternative, create a new message object, pass all of the arguments to its set_content() method, and attach() it to the multipart. If the message is a non-multipart or multipart/related, call make_alternative() and then proceed as above. If the message is any other type of multipart, raise a TypeError. If content_manager is not specified, use the content_manager specified by the current policy.

add_attachment(*args, content_manager=None, **kw)

If the message is a multipart/mixed, create a new message object, pass all of the arguments to its set_content() method, and attach() it to the multipart. If the message is a non-multipart, multipart/related, or multipart/alternative, call make_mixed() and then proceed as above. If content_manager is not specified, use the content_manager specified by the current policy. If the added part has no Content-Disposition header, add one with the value attachment. This method can be used both for explicit attachments (Content-Disposition: attachment) and inline attachments (Content-Disposition: inline), by passing appropriate options to the content_manager.

clear()

clear_content()

Remove the payload and all of the Content- headers, leaving all other headers intact and in their original order.

EmailMessage objects have the following instance attributes:

preamble

The format of a MIME document allows for some text between the blank line following the headers, and the first multipart boundary string. Normally, this text is never visible in a MIME-aware mail reader because it falls outside the standard MIME armor. However, when viewing the raw text of the message, or when viewing the message in a non-MIME aware reader, this text can become visible.

The preamble attribute contains this leading extra-armor text for MIME documents. When the Parser discovers some text after the headers but before the first boundary string, it assigns this text to the message’s preamble attribute. When the Generator is writing out the plain text representation of a MIME message, and it finds the message has a preamble attribute, it will write this text in the area between the headers and the first boundary. See email.parser and email.generator for details.

Note that if the message object has no preamble, the preamble attribute will be None.

epilogue

The epilogue attribute acts the same way as the preamble attribute, except that it contains text that appears between the last boundary and the end of the message. As with the preamble, if there is no epilog text this attribute will be None.

defects

The defects attribute contains a list of all the problems found when parsing this message. See email.errors for a detailed description of the possible parsing defects.

class email.message.MIMEPart(policy=default)

This class represents a subpart of a MIME message. It is identical to EmailMessage, except that no MIME-Version headers are added when set_content() is called, since sub-parts do not need their own MIME-Version headers.

Footnotes

 [1] Originally added in 3.4 as a provisional module. Docs for legacy message class moved to email.message.Message: Representing an email message using the compat32 API.