Last Updated: February 25, 2016
· dideler

Extracting email addresses

Extracting email addresses is a lousy task. There's no bulletproof solution - there will always be tricky edge cases that you don't cover. This simple Python script will get you most of the addresses. Hopefully it makes your life easier!

#!/usr/bin/env python
# Extracts email addresses from one or more plain text files.
# Notes:
# - Does not save to file (pipe output to a file if you want it saved)
# - Does not check for duplicates (can easily be done in the terminal)
# (c) 2013  Dennis Ideler <>

from optparse import OptionParser
import os.path
import re

regex = re.compile(("([a-z0-9!#$%&'*+\/=?^_`{|}~-]+(?:\.[a-z0-9!#$%&'*+\/=?^_`"

def file_to_str(filename):
    """Returns the contents of filename as a string."""
    with open(filename) as f:
        return # Case is lowered to prevent regex mismatches.

def get_emails(s):
    """Returns an iterator of matched emails found in string s."""
    # Removing lines that start with '//' because the regular expression
    # mistakenly matches patterns like '' as '//'.
    return (email[0] for email in re.findall(regex, s) if not email[0].startswith('//'))

if __name__ == '__main__':
    parser = OptionParser(usage="Usage: python %prog [FILE]...")
    # No options added yet. Add them here if you ever need them.
    options, args = parser.parse_args()

    if not args:

    for arg in args:
        if os.path.isfile(arg):
            for email in get_emails(file_to_str(arg)):
                print email
            print '"{}" is not a file.'.format(arg)

You can pass the script multiple files. It prints the email addresses to stdout, one address per line. For ease of use, I suggest removing the .py extension and placing or linking to it in your $PATH (e.g. /usr/local/bin/) to run it like a built-in command.

Usage: extract_emails_from_text file1.txt file2.txt

This was originally posted as a GitHub gist:

P.S. Don't use this to validate email addresses. A simple email with a verification link would work better.