My problem is that sometimes I want to send an important notice to a company. I use normal, not electronic, mail - "recorded delivery". The problem is, that I only get evidence of sending the mail, and no confirmation about what was in the envelope - that's why I also send an e-mail, saving it in sent folder. Unfortunately some companies don't have e-mails (or they don't publish e-mail addresses), only web forms.

If I understand it well, web forms work like this: user fills up input fields and clicks "send" button, browser makes a GET or POST request to server URL given in form's "action" attribute, and the PHP file at this URL is sending the message to SMTP server. Can't get the e-mail address from the source, can't even get the SMTP server address.

I guess that makes it impossible to use Gmail to send e-mail through web form.

But maybe there are other solutions to keep evidence of forms being sent?

3 Answers 3


If you're only looking to keep an electronic record of when you submitted a form, you can do something like this:

  • Get a piece of software that lets you print to PDF. Basically, this is just a print driver that you "print" to as if it were a printer, but the output is a PDF file to your hard drive. There are quite a few of these; PDFCreator is onesuch, but if you look around a bit you should be able to find one you like.
  • When you submit a form, you should get a confirmation page. Use the print function of your browser to print to PDF. The headers and footers of the printout should contain the URL as well as the time and date.

Not all confirmation pages echo back the information you submitted (for security reasons) so you might also want to print the form prior to submitting it.

  • The problem is, when sending an e-mail I have the copy saved on third-party. If there was a third-party app, that is filling, and sending the form for me (with values I submit), it could serve as a good evidence of forms being sent. As for PDF, it is on my computer, and I can easily alter it (e.g. change date) so in case of a quarrel I can proof that I sent the form on 1st February, and not 20th March. Currently, a web form is a great wall protecting a company from any responsibility. Commented Jul 27, 2012 at 8:15
  • You could always store it in the cloud. Dropbox, for instance. Otherwise, your requirements look a little too specific, and perhaps you should get some legal advice, which is obviously beyond the ken of this site.
    – ale
    Commented Jul 27, 2012 at 12:49
  • Yes, I was afraid the requirements will turn out to be too specific. I still believe, though, there is a solution, maybe one involving some special proxy... Commented Aug 5, 2012 at 11:29

You can't use email to fill in web forms. They use different network protocols (SMTP vs HTTP/HTTPS).

If you want your own electronic record of data you have entered on a web-form you'd most likely have to write your own application to do so.

When you talk about "evidence" this word has legal connotations that are off-topic for the Q&A site. Since the presence of a message in your "sent" folder probably carries no weight in most jurisdictions, you'd probably need to pass the messages via a third party (notary, lawyer, etc) but I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice.

  • What I mean by evidence is using third party - like gmail. It is good evidence enough in some cases. Of course having the email saved by myself is no evidence at all. Having it saved in google docs is no evidence, because I have no proof I sent the message to the corporation as well. Ideally, there would be an external app that sends form contents for me, keeping a copy.
    – Markus von Broady
    Commented Jul 25, 2012 at 12:53

You can do what you are asking (if I understand your question) with a PDF form or using Infopath with Sharepoint. I hate to say it, but this question may have been incorrectly migrated from SuperUser.com.

What you are asking is most painlessly possible with encapsulated workflows designed for this purpose. Acrobat PDF forms are designed to allow you to incorporate all kinds of tracking, signing, and verification features. You can even sign a legally acceptable signature in a PDF form. Infopath and Sharepoint (insofar as I understand them) do the same (although I'm not sure about signing).

You might also think that you could insert the form in an iframe, which would actually mean it was hosted remotely, but that probably wouldn't work either because support for them is iffy in email clients as this post points out and still more of them may strip the tags as an effort to reduce security risk. If not for those issues, you could code a script that would do as you like.

The simple solution:

A document-based solution such as PDF or an Infopath form (or maybe an Access web app, which is a very similar procedure).

The less simple (but open source) solution:

Host the form on your website and code the back-end (or get a developer to do it for you) to return all the telemetry your heart desires.

  • The thing is, I did not create the form. I’m using the form created by someone else. I think it's not ethical to put the only contact to a company as a webform, where I can’t send e.g. a complaint without leaving a trace elsewhere then on the system of the company owning the form. Commented Jul 4, 2015 at 9:46

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