Sending test emails in Amazon SES with the simulator - Amazon Simple Email Service

Sending test emails in Amazon SES with the simulator

We recommend using the Amazon SES console to send a test email with Amazon SES. Because the console requires you to manually enter information, you typically only use it to send test emails. After you get started with Amazon SES, you will most likely send your emails by using either the Amazon SES SMTP interface or API. However,the console is useful for monitoring your sending activity.

The following topics explain how to use the mailbox simulator from both the console and manually by sending emails:

Using the mailbox simulator from the console

  • In this tutorial, you send an email to yourself from the console so that you can check to see if you received it. For further experimentation or load testing, see Using the mailbox simulator manually.

  • Emails that you send to the mailbox simulator do not count toward your sending quota or your bounce and complaint rates, nor do they affect Virtual Deliverability Manager metrics.

Before you follow these steps, complete the tasks in Setting up Amazon Simple Email Service.

To send a test email message from the Amazon SES console
  1. Sign in to the AWS Management Console and open the Amazon SES console at

  2. In the navigation pane under Configuration choose Verified Identities.

  3. From the Identities table, select a verified email identity (by clicking directly on the identity name as opposed to selecting its checkbox). If you don't have a verified email identity, see Creating an email address identity.

  4. On the selected email identity's detail page, choose Send test email.

  5. For Message details, choose the Email Format. The two choices are as follows:

    • Formatted—This is the simplest option. Choose this option if you simply want to type the text of your message into the Body text box. When you send the email, Amazon SES puts the text into email format for you.

    • Raw—Choose this option if you want to send a more complex message, such as a message that includes HTML or an attachment. Because of this flexibility, you need to format the message, as described in Sending raw email using the Amazon SES API v2, yourself, and then paste the entire formatted message, including the headers, into the Body text box. You can use the following example, which contains HTML, to send a test email using the Raw email format. Copy and paste this message in its entirety into the Body text box. Ensure that there is not a blank line between the MIME-Version header and the Content-Type header; a blank line between these two lines causes the email to be formatted as plain text instead of HTML.

      Subject: Amazon SES Raw Email Test MIME-Version: 1.0 Content-Type: text/html <!DOCTYPE html> <html> <body> <h1>This text should be large, because it is formatted as a header in HTML.</h1> <p>Here is a formatted link: <a href="">Amazon Simple Email Service Developer Guide</a>.</p> </body> </html>
  6. Choose the type of simulated email scenario you want to test by expanding the Scenario list box.

    1. If you choose Custom and you're still in the Amazon SES sandbox, make sure that the address in the Custom recipient field is a verified email address. For more information, see Creating an email address identity.

  7. Fill out the remaining fields as desired.

  8. Choose Send test email.

  9. Sign in to the email client of the address you sent the email to. You will find the message that you sent.

Using the mailbox simulator manually

Amazon SES includes a mailbox simulator that you can use to test how your application handles different email sending scenarios. The mailbox simulator is useful when, for example, you want to test an email sending application without creating fictitious email addresses, or when you want to find your system's maximum throughput without impacting your daily sending quota.

Important considerations

Consider the following features and limitations when you use the Amazon SES mailbox simulator:

  • You can use the mailbox simulator even if your account is in the Amazon SES sandbox.

  • Emails that you send to the mailbox simulator are limited by your account's maximum sending rate, but they don't affect your daily sending quota. For example, if your account is authorized to send 10,000 messages per 24-hour period, and you send 100 messages to the mailbox simulator, you can still send up to 10,000 messages to regular recipients without reaching your sending quota.

  • Emails that you send to the mailbox simulator don't impact your email deliverability or reputation metrics. For example, if you send a large number of messages to the bounce address of the email simulator, it doesn't display a message warning you that your bounce rate is too high on the reputation metrics console page.

  • For billing purposes, emails that you send to the Amazon SES mailbox simulator are the same as any other email you send using Amazon SES. In other words, we bill you the same amount for messages that you send to the mailbox simulator as for those that you send to regular recipients.

  • The mailbox simulator supports labeling, which enables you to send emails to the same mailbox simulator address in multiple ways, or to see how your application handles Variable Envelope Return Path (VERP). For example, you can send an email to and to see if your application can match a bounce message with the email address that caused the bounce.

  • If you use the mailbox simulator to simulate multiple bounces from the same sending request, Amazon SES combines the bounce responses into a single response.

Using the mailbox simulator

To use the email simulator, find the scenario in the following table, and then send an email to the corresponding email address.


When you send an email to a mailbox simulator address, you must send it through Amazon SES, by using the AWS CLI, an AWS SDK, the Amazon SES console, the Amazon SES SMTP interface, or the Amazon SES API. The mailbox simulator doesn't respond to emails that it receives from external sources.

Simulated scenario Email address
Successful delivery—The recipient's email provider accepts your email. If you set up delivery notifications as described in Setting up event notifications for Amazon SES, Amazon SES sends you a delivery notification through Amazon Simple Notification Service (Amazon SNS).
Bounce—The recipient's email provider rejects your email with an SMTP 550 5.1.1 ("Unknown User") response code. Amazon SES generates a bounce notification and, depending on how you set up your account, sends it to you in an email or sends a notification to an Amazon SNS topic. The mailbox simulator email address isn't placed on the Amazon SES suppression list, which would normally happen when a hard bounce occurs. The bounce response that you receive from the mailbox simulator is compliant with RFC 3464. For information about how to receive bounce feedback, see Setting up event notifications for Amazon SES.
Automatic responses—The recipient's email provider accepts your email and delivers it to the recipient’s inbox. The email provider sends an automatic response, such as an "out of the office" (OOTO) message, to the address in the Return-Path header of the email, or the envelope sender ("MAIL FROM") address if the Return-Path header isn't present. The automatic response that you receive from the mailbox simulator is compliant with RFC 3834.
Complaint—The recipient's email provider accepts your email and delivers it to the recipient’s inbox. The recipient decides that your message is unsolicited and clicks "Mark as Spam" in his or her email client. Amazon SES then forwards the complaint notification to you by email or by notifying an Amazon SNS topic, depending on how you set up your account. The complaint response that you receive from the mailbox simulator is compliant with RFC 5965. For information about how to receive complaint feedback, see Setting up event notifications for Amazon SES.
Recipient address on suppression list—Amazon SES generates a hard bounce as if the recipient's address is on the global suppression list.

Testing Reject events

Every message that you send through Amazon SES is scanned for viruses. If you send a message that contains a virus, Amazon SES accepts the message, detects the virus, and rejects the entire message. When Amazon SES rejects the message, it stops processing the message, and doesn't attempt to deliver it to the recipient's mail server. It then generates a Reject event.

The Amazon SES mailbox simulator doesn't include an address for testing Reject events. However, you can test Reject events by using a European Institute for Computer Antivirus Research (EICAR) test file. This file is an industry-standard method of testing antivirus software in a safe manner. To create an EICAR test file, paste the following text into a file:


Save the file as sample.txt, attach it to an email, and then send the email to a verified address. If there are no other issues with the email, Amazon SES accepts the message, but then rejects it as it would if it contained an actual virus.


Rejected emails—including those that you send by using the procedure above—count against your daily sending quota. We bill you for each message that you send, including rejected messages.

To learn more about EICAR test files, see the EICAR test file page on Wikipedia.