From Online Manual
SMF has a powerful system of managing personal messages. Personal messages (or pms for short) are a lot like posts, but instead of being posted in a topic they are sent to one or more members. Typically, personal messages are private correspondence, and they are only viewable by the sender and intended recipients - administrators cannot view other's messages except through the database.
Personal messages cannot be sent by guests or to guests. However, if the sender is deleted sometime after they send the message, they will appear as a guest.
By default, 4,294,967,296 personal messages may be sent on your forum. Since this is a much larger number than the members you can have, it's unlikely you will ever reach it.
Upon clicking the My Messages link on the main menu you will be lead to a page that lists all of your personal messages sent to you. This is your inbox as you can see from the navigation at the top, the default page loaded for personal messages.
At the top of the page, you will see something that looks similar to what you would see on the message index of a board. You will see a listing of your personal messages. The first column where you see a speech bubble lets you know if you have replied to the PM. An arrow on the image means you have replied to the PM; no arrow means you haven't. The second column is for the date the personal message was sent. Next to that is the subject of the message. To the right of that is the display name of the member that sent it. The final column has check boxes where you can perform check the ones you want to delete and then push the Delete Selected button located under the list of messages. Note that you can sort personal messages by date, sender, and subject.
Upon clicking on any personal message, you will be anchored down the same page to the actual written message. This will look just like how a post would look inside of a topic. Next to each message you will see links on the top right to: quote the message in a reply by clicking Quote, reply to the message by clicking Reply, and deleting the message by clicking Remove. Also note, you can report abusive personal messages to the administrator by clicking the Report to Admin link at the bottom right of the message. The checkboxes located farthest to the top right are also used to delete messages upon clicking the Delete Selected button below the messages.
To view sent messages, select "Sent Items" under "Messages" in the button menu or left side panel. Messages are only saved to "Sent Items" if you have put a checkmark next to Save a copy in my outbox before sending the message.
By default, there is no way an administrator or anyone else can read your personal messages. Only you and the person you sent it to are able to read what you wrote. However, it is not impossible for one with access to the database of the forum to read them through the database with an SQL command. For this reason, it is advised to not send personal messages that contain private information that you don't wish for anyone else to read.
Sending a personal message
- Enter the name or the names of the person/s you are sending it to in the To box (the Bcc box can be used to conceal additional recipients of the message).
- Enter the subject in the subject box.
- Write your message in the box below. Remember that Basic BB Codes work the same for Personal Messages as they do for posting.
- When you are finished with your message push the 'Send Message' button to send or the 'Preview' to preview.
You also will reply to messages using the same method.
To keep better control and organization of your personal messages, in SMF 2.0 we introduced a method for you to apply labels to your messages. When you apply a label you will then be able to view just the personal messages with that label. All of your labels will be listed on the left menu under the category Labels. To manage your labels so you can edit label names, delete labels and create new ones, go to the left menu under the category Preferences and click on Manage Labels.