Updated May 17, 2020
Contact form 7 is a free contact form plugin that helps you easily create forms and put them anywhere on your website. Contact form 7 is one of the most use plugins on WordPress with over 5 million active downloads.
I found that some of the forms you create can stop working or have issues when trying to send a message. You will often receive a message with a border saying “There was an error trying to send your message. Please try again later”. Depending on the colour of border the message is surrounded by will determine what kind of fix you need.
If you have the Yellow message, scroll to this section.
If you have the Orange message, scroll to this section.
If you have the Red message, scroll to this section.
Yellow Error Message Fix
The yellow error tells us that there is a form validation error. This will be something you need to change in the admin area.
Forms Not Validated
Go to your WordPress admin dashboard and you will see icons on the Contact Form 7 plugin button. Click on the “Contact Forms” button.
Once you get to the forms page, near the top you will see an error message like the image below. Click on the link within this message.
That page will take you to another page where you just need to simply click on the “validate form now” button.
This should fix the problem but if it doesn’t, please comment below and I will help you out.
Orange Error Message Fix
The orange error tells us that your form isn’t sending because of a spam issue. Here are two solutions I did to fix this problem.
Contact Form 7 uses reCaptcha to make sure your website doesn’t receive a lot of spam. Once CF7 moved from reCaptcha V2 to V3, forms stopped working. The easiest solution that instantly fixed these issues for me was to change the reCaptcha back to V2. Here is what I did…
Go to the plugins page and search for “Contact Form 7 – reCaptcha v2“, install and activate it.
Next go to reCaptcha version and select Version 2.
Next go to the Contact Form 7 tab and click on integration. Click on “remove keys”.
Next go to the Google reCaptcha page, sign in and create new site keys for your website. You might need to delete your website property from reCaptcha first. When asked for reCaptcha type, choose reCaptcha V2.
Once the keys have been generated go back to the integrations tab for Contact Form 7 and add your new V2 site keys.
Once you are done, click save then go back to your forms and add the “[recaptcha]” shortcode.
Red Error Message Fix
The red error tells us that the form is not sending and is caused by your server not sending the email. There are two solutions for this:
Contact Hosting Company
Contact your hosting company and tell them about the issue. They will most likely test the email function on your server and fix it or they will not have a solution which will bring me to the next fix.
Install SMTP Plugin
SMTP and php mail plugins make sure emails are authenticated and properly sent through third parties. The plugin I use to fix this was WP Mail SMTP.
Once you downloaded and activate WP Mail SMTP, go to the settings page.
Go to one of the suggested mailers websites and sign up for an account. I’ve used Mailgun and SendGrid in the past. Once you create an account you will get an api key(s) and you will need to go back to that SMTP plugin settings page to enter your api keys. You will see a place to enter your credentials (see image below). This will appear below the mailer options on the SMTP settings page.
Once your api key is saved, go to the top of this page and you will see an option to send a test email.
Send a test email to make sure everything is working.
Other Things To Try
Caching plugin Conflicts
Another reason why your contact forms may not be sending messages is from caching plugins conflicts. The easiest way to test for this is to deactivate your cache plugin and try testing the form again. If it works, then you either need to find another cache plugin that doesn’t cause issues. I have tested litespeed cache and w3 cache and they both work fine.
Still not working?
A while back I noticed that contact form 7 often had these annoying issues and they happened every time I updated the plugin. Sometimes I was missing out on new clients because my forms wouldn’t send if the form broke without me knowing. I also needed more complex features that Contact Form 7 simply couldn’t offer. If you are frustrated with this plugin, I would switch to a premium plugin as they usually come with support so you could get your issues fixed quickly.
Plugins to use instead
This contact form builder is great for WordPress beginners because the user interface is easy to use. Simply drag and drop the fields inside your form template.
The process is simple. Design the form, use the block to embed it, and you will have a fully-functional form. You can use WPForms Lite for building a fairly bare-bones template.
Gravity Forms helps you create more advanced types of forms beyond a simple contact form such as quote forms (that’s what I use it for).
You will get more integrations as compared to WPForms. Plus, the drag-and-drop form builder is easier to use. The large amount of add-ons is what makes Gravity forms so great.
Although Gravity Forms does not provide a free version, it is worth paying for, for the support. They will help you out with your forms very quickly.
3. Ninja Forms
This freemium option on my list is a perfect choice for non-developers. You can use this WordPress form builder to design a nice form in no time.
When you select a form template, it will redirect you directly to a live editor so that you can customize it easily. Unlike other form builders in this list, you can create a wide range of forms using just the free version.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do I get an error message with a yellow border?
An error message with a yellow border in CF7 means that you have a configuration and validation error in your form at the backend. You will find the error in detail when you go to the Contact Form 7 in the admin dashboard.
Why do I get an error message with an orange border?
An error message with an orange border typically means that the form is not being sent due to a spam problem. This problem is usually resolved by adding ReCaptcha to your site.
Why do I get an error message with a red border?
A error message with a red border typically means that the Contact Form 7 plugin was unable to use the underlying mail sending functions of the server and will need some additional configuration to be able to send the CF7 emails and forms.
Let me know if one of these solutions worked for you and if not put in a comment below and I’ll gladly help.