In just a few lines of code, your PHP application can send, receive, and reply to text messages with Twilio Programmable SMS.
This PHP SMS Quickstart shows you how to use our Communications REST API, the Twilio PHP helper library, and ngrok to expose your local development server to Twilio. We'll install all dependencies manually without using a package manager.
We highly suggest trying Composer for package and dependency management in your PHP web applications. If interested, try our standard PHP SMS Quickstart.
In this quickstart, you'll learn how to:
- Sign up for Twilio and purchase an SMS-enabled phone number
- Check and install any prerequisites manually
- Send your first SMS
- Set up your development environment to send and receive messages
- Receive inbound text messages
- Reply to incoming messages with a return SMS
Already have a Twilio account and SMS-capable number? Go ahead and skip this section.
You can sign up for a free Twilio trial account here.
- When you sign up, you'll be asked to verify your personal phone number. This helps Twilio verify your identity and also allows you to send test messages to your phone from your Twilio account while in trial mode.
- Once you verify your number, you'll be asked to create a project. For the sake of this tutorial, you can click on the "Learn and Explore" template. Give your project a name, or just click "skip remaining steps" to continue with the default.
- Once you get through the project creation flow, you'll arrive at your project dashboard in the Twilio Console. This is where you'll be able to access your Account SID, authentication token, find a Twilio phone number, and more.
If you don't currently own a Twilio phone number with SMS functionality, you'll need to purchase one. After navigating to the Buy a Number page, check the "SMS" box and click "Search."
You’ll then see a list of available phone numbers and their capabilities. Find a number that suits your fancy and click "Buy" to add it to your account.
If you already have PHP and the Twilio PHP Helper Library installed in your working directory, feel free to skip this step and move on to sending your first text message.
To send your first SMS, let's make sure you're set up with PHP and able to install Twilio's PHP Helper library. This quickstart will show you how to install packages manually.
If you’re using a Mac or *nix machine, you may have PHP already installed. In your favorite terminal, run:
If not installed, follow the PHP installation instructions.
If you're using a Windows machine, follow the official PHP tutorial to install PHP.
Many versions of PHP 5.x and PHP 7.x will work for this quickstart, but please pay careful attention to supported PHP releases. Always update your un-supported versions when doing web development as older versions will not receive security updates.
You'll need to install the Twilio PHP Helper Library in the directory where you will complete the quickstart.
- Create a new project directory, or navigate to your project's working directory.
- In that directory, download the most recent version of the Twilio PHP Helper Library from Github.
- Unzip the PHP helper library in the directory.
Now that we have PHP and
twilio-php-master installed manually, we can make a single API request and send an outbound text message from a Twilio phone number.
Create and open a new file called
send_sms.php and type or paste in this code sample:
In the code, switch the placeholders in
auth_token with your Twilio credentials. Visit https://www.twilio.com/console to find your unique Account SID and Auth Token to substitute.
Reveal your auth token by clicking 'view':
Replace the value for
auth_token with your unique values.
Note: While it's easy to hardcode your credentials in a file for a quickstart, use environment variables to keep them secret in production. Check out how to set environment variables for more information, and see the code comments for an example of how to read them in PHP. This repo is also an excellent resource for dealing with environment variables.
The first value in the API call to create() is the outgoing phone number, currently set to
+15558675310. This can be any phone number that can receive texts... but use a number you control to witness the magic! As above, use E.164 formatting for this number.
Save the file then run the script:
Assuming all the values are correct, you should already see the SMS from your Twilio number on your phone!
If you are on a Twilio Trial account, your SMS messages are limited to phone numbers that you have verified with Twilio. You can verify phone numbers via the Twilio Console's Verified Caller IDs.
When someone sends an SMS to your Twilio phone number, Twilio makes an HTTP request to your server asking for instructions on what to do next. For this quickstart, we’ll reply to the sender with a note about how we're sending our SMS reply.
We'll again use the Twilio PHP Library, then use PHP's built-in development webserver in combination with ngrok to instruct Twilio how to handle the message. Create a new file
reply_sms.php in the same directory as
send_sms.php, open it, then copy and paste or type the following code.
(Note: if you do not use the same directory, please follow the PHP Helper Library install step above)
Save the file, then start the PHP development server with:
php -S localhost:8000
In your favorite browser, open the URL http://localhost:8000/reply_sms.php.
If all went smoothly, you should see XML in your browser with our message. And, yes, that's all the code needed - there are just a few more steps before everything is ready to go. Next, let's expose this endpoint to Twilio.
Most Twilio services use webhooks to communicate with your application. When Twilio receives an SMS, it reaches out to a specific URL in your application, and you respond with instructions on how to handle a response.
The small piece of code in
reply_sms.php is an example of one instruction you can use in response - but this sadly isn't yet accessible from the outside world, only in your local environment.
While there are many ways to make this code public (such as deploying to an external host), we recommend a tool called Ngrok. When you start Ngrok, it provides a unique URL on the ngrok.io domain and then forwards incoming requests to your local development environment.
The architecture simplifies to this:
If you don’t already use Ngrok, visit the download page and install it for your platform.
If you're working on a Mac or Linux, you're all set after decompression. If you're on Windows, we have a guide on how to install and configure ngrok on Windows. For more info on ngrok, including some great tips and tricks, check out our this in-depth blog post.
Once downloaded and installed, open a new terminal tab or window (leave your development server running) and start Ngrok with this command:
./ngrok http 8000
You should see output similar to this:
Copy your public URL from this output, paste it into your browser, and append
reply_sms.php. You should see the same XML file from the previous step, except now you can access this externally.
Pretty cool, right? Now we only have to tell Twilio where to look.
Now, you configure your Twilio phone number to call your webhook URL when a new message is received.
- Log into Twilio.com and go to the Console Numbers page
- Click the SMS-enabled phone number (the one we sent messages with originally)
- Under the Messaging sub-section, make sure the default “CONFIGURE WITH” is set to "Webhooks/TwiML."
- In the A MESSAGE COMES IN section, select "Webhook" and paste in the ngrok URL followed with
Save your changes - you’re ready to go!
Now that everything is glued together, it's time to test.
Send a text message from your mobile phone to your Twilio phone number. You'll see a couple of things happen very quickly -
- An HTTP request will show up in your Ngrok console.
- Your PHP dev server will note a new connection
- Twilio will forward your response as an SMS text message!
Now that you know the basics of sending and receiving SMS and MMS text messages with PHP, you might want to check out these resources.
- Our extensive API Reference documentation for Twilio SMS
- Learn how to create an SMS conversation in PHP
- Track the delivery status of your messages with PHP
- Try TwilioQuest, our interactive, self-paced game that teaches you how to Twilio.
We hope you enjoyed the quickstart, and definitely can't wait to see what you build!