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Improving your Rails mailers with `email_address_with_name`

swanson profile image matt swanson Originally published at boringrails.com on ・1 min read

In almost all email programs, you can add a display name before your email address like so:

To: Matt Swanson <matt@example.com>
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It’s a small touch, but it is a more human-readable way of addressing an email. Rails provides a helper utility to format email addresses in this style without resorting to manual string manipulation.

Usage

Use email_address_with_name to add a name in-front on an email address in a standard way

ActionMailer::Base.email_address_with_name("swan3788@gmail.com", "Matt Swanson")
=> "Matt Swanson <swan3788@gmail.com>"
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This helper is available in all Rails mailers.

class UserMailer < ApplicationMailer
  default from: 'notifications@example.com'

  def welcome_email
    @user = params[:user]

    mail(
      to: email_address_with_name(@user.email, @user.display_name),
      subject: 'You have a new message'
    )
  end
end
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Options

This helper handles nil gracefully as well.

ActionMailer::Base.email_address_with_name("swan3788@gmail.com", nil)
=> "swan3788@gmail.com"
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And it handles escaping characters automatically:

ActionMailer::Base.email_address_with_name("mike@example.com", "Michael J. Scott")
=> "\"Michael J. Scott\" <mike@example.com>"

ActionMailer::Base.email_address_with_name("chip@example.com", 'John "Chip" Smith')
=> "\"John \\\"Chip\\\" Smith\" <chip@example.com>"
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Additional Resources

Rails API: ActionMailer::Base#email_address_with_name


Discussion (2)

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m90 profile image
Frederik Ring

This is only tangential, but do you know if this kind of email address format is somehow specified / named? I was recently looking for libraries that would handle such addresses for me (outside of Rails) and had to come up with my own version. I still have the suspicion though I just don't know the proper name.

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citizen428 profile image
Michael Kohl • Edited

The canonical reference is RFC 5322 (search for display name). You'll encounter a lot of things when reading RFCs that many/most libraries won't handle properly.