Bounces not arriving in pop mailbox

I have successfully set up phplist on a shared host (transip) and everything seems to be working fine except for bounces.

I’ve created a test subscriber with an email address known to bounce (

When I send a test campaign I do see it arriving at another test subscriber which I do have access to.

When I check the pop mailbox for bounces, I do not see any. When I email the above address for testing bounces directly I do get a bounce reply.

Below is my config file. Any suggestions for what I might try to fix this?



* ==============================================================================================================
* The minimum requirements to get phpList working are in this file.
* If you are interested in tweaking more options, check out the config_extended.php file
* or visit
* ** NOTE: To use options from config_extended.php, you need to copy them to this file **


// what is your Mysql database server hostname
$database_host = 'localhost';

// what is the name of the database we are using
$database_name = 'mydomain_com_phplist';

// what user has access to this database
$database_user = 'mydomain_com_phplist';

// and what is the password to login to control the database
$database_password = 'mypassword';

// if you have an SMTP server, set it here. Otherwise it will use the normal php mail() function
//# if your SMTP server is called "" you enter this below like this:
//#     define("PHPMAILERHOST",'');

define('PHPMAILERHOST', '');

// if TEST is set to 1 (not 0) it will not actually send ANY messages, but display what it would have sent
// this is here, to make sure you edited the config file and mails are not sent "accidentally"
// on unmanaged systems

define('TEST', 0);

// if you change the path to the phpList system, make the change here as well
// path should be relative to the root directory of your webserver (document root)
// Warning: Do not change this after installation. You can only change this before you
// install and initialise phpList.
$pageroot = '';


* Settings for handling bounces
* This section is OPTIONAL, and not necessary to send out mailings, but it is highly recommended to correctly
* set up bounce processing. Without processing of bounces your system will end up sending large amounts of
* unnecessary messages, which overloads your own server, the receiving servers and internet traffic as a whole


// Message envelope.

// This is the address that most bounces will be delivered to
// Your should make this an address that no PERSON reads
// but a mailbox that phpList can empty every so often, to process the bounces

$message_envelope = '';

// Handling bounces. Check README.bounces for more info
// This can be 'pop' or 'mbox'
$bounce_protocol = 'pop';

// set this to 0, if you set up a cron to download bounces regularly by using the
// commandline option. If this is 0, users cannot run the page from the web
// frontend. Read README.commandline to find out how to set it up on the
// commandline

// when the protocol is pop, specify these three
$bounce_mailbox_host = '';
$bounce_mailbox_user = '';
$bounce_mailbox_password = 'mypassword';

// the "port" is the remote port of the connection to retrieve the emails
// the default should be fine but if it doesn't work, you can try the second
// one. To do that, add a # before the first line and take off the one before the
// second line
// $bounce_mailbox_port = '110/pop3/notls';
// $bounce_mailbox_port = "110/pop3";

// it's getting more common to have secure connections, in which case you probably want to use
$bounce_mailbox_port = "995/pop3/ssl/novalidate-cert";

// when the protocol is mbox specify this one
// it needs to be a local file in mbox format, accessible to your webserver user
// $bounce_mailbox = '/var/mail/listbounces';

// set this to 0 if you want to keep your messages in the mailbox. this is potentially
// a problem, because bounces will be counted multiple times, so only do this if you are
// testing things.
$bounce_mailbox_purge = 1;

// set this to 0 if you want to keep unprocessed messages in the mailbox. Unprocessed
// messages are messages that could not be matched with a user in the system
// messages are still downloaded into phpList, so it is safe to delete them from
// the mailbox and view them in phpList
$bounce_mailbox_purge_unprocessed = 1;

// how many bounces in a row need to have occurred for a user to be marked unconfirmed
$bounce_unsubscribe_threshold = 5;

// choose the hash method for password
// check the extended config for more info
// in most cases, it is fine to leave this as it is
define('HASH_ALGO', 'sha256');

I solved this by configuring a custom smtp account for sending messages as described in config_extended.php.

Edit: Not quite solved—the bounces arrive in the mailbox for the address I’m sending from ( in stead of the address configured for receiving bounces (

I do see the bounce address listed in the full header of the email sent out. But apparently it isn’t used by whomever is receiving the message.

I guess I can solve this by using the same address for both sending newsletters and receiving bounces. But I would say this is a bug of some sort?

You might need to use the listbounces@ address for the smtp connection.You can still use the lists@ address as the phplist From address though.

So that’s the ‘from’ address in the admin settings screen, right? Default for 'From:' in a campaign under campaign settings?

I just decided to try that, it doesn’t work. The bounces don’t arrive in the correct mailbox in that case. So I guess the ‘from’ address needs to be the ‘bounces’ address as well. Weird, but workable.

I’d like to reply on this as I’m also facing this trying to configure phpList. I’ve been browsing the forum for this kind of issue and found this thread.

I’d like to ‘up’ this and will still keep looking.

As I understand the configuration for phpLIst - you can have a different email address that would receive bounced email notifications from your account listed/configured in SMTP server.

From my testings, bounced emails are sent to the account used for SMTP server instead of the message envelope or the pop server.

Some other information on my configuration:
SMTP server uses gmail smtp server while for handling bounce, I use a pop server from my hosting provider.