CKAN Documentation 2.1.5 documentation » Features »

Email Notifications

CKAN can send email notifications to users, for example when a user has new activities on her dashboard. Once email notifications have been enabled by a site admin, each user of a CKAN site can turn email notifications on or off for herself by logging in and editing her user preferences. To enable email notifications for a CKAN site, a sysadmin must:

  1. Setup a cron job or other scheduled job on a server to call CKAN’s send_email_notifications API action at regular intervals (e.g. hourly) and send any pending email notifications to users.

    On most UNIX systems you can setup a cron job by running crontab -e in a shell to edit your crontab file, and adding a line to the file to specify the new job. For more information run man crontab in a shell.

    CKAN API actions can be called via the paster post command, which simulates an HTTP-request. For example, here is a crontab line to send out CKAN email notifications hourly:

    @hourly echo '{}' | /usr/lib/ckan/bin/paster --plugin=ckan post -c /etc/ckan/production.ini /api/action/send_email_notifications > /dev/null

    The @hourly can be replaced with @daily, @weekly or @monthly.


    CKAN will not send email notifications for events older than the time period specified by the ckan.email_notifications_since config setting (default: 2 days), so your cron job should run more frequently than this. @hourly and @daily are good choices.


    Since send_email_notifications is an API action, it can be called from a machine other than the server on which CKAN is running, simply by POSTing an HTTP request to the CKAN API (you must be a sysadmin to call this particular API action). See The CKAN API.

  2. CKAN will not send out any email notifications, nor show the email notifications preference to users, unless the ckan.activity_streams_email_notifications option is set to True, so put this line in the [app:main] section of your CKAN config file:

    ckan.activity_streams_email_notifications = True
  3. Make sure that ckan.site_url is set correctly in the [app:main] section of your CKAN configuration file. This is used to generate links in the bodies of the notification emails. For example:

    ckan.site_url =
  4. Make sure that smtp.mail_from is set correctly in the [app:main] section of your CKAN configuration file. This is the email address that CKAN’s email notifications will appear to come from. For example:

    smtp.mail_from =

    This is combined with your ckan.site_title to form the From: header of the email that are sent, for example:

    From: <>
  5. If you do not have an SMTP server running locally on the machine that hosts your CKAN instance, you can change the Email Settings to send email via an external SMTP server. For example, these settings in the [app:main] section of your configuration file will send emails using a gmail account (not recommended for production websites!):

    smtp.server =
    smtp.starttls = True
    smtp.user =
    smtp.password = your_gmail_password
    smtp.mail_from =
  6. For the new configuration to take effect you need to restart the web server. For example if your are using Apache on Ubuntu, run this command in a shell:

    sudo service apache2 reload