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How to find Email Headers

What are Email Headers?

Email Headers are the part of the email that users don't usually get to see, they hold the routing information and other meta data of the message. Some of the information held is the sender's and recipient's email addresses, the subject, the date it was sent. As the message makes its way through the Internet from sender to receiver, all of the mail transfer services that handle it on the journey will add lines to the header showing its progress.

Here is an example of a simple email header:

Return-Path: <example_from@dc.edu>
X-SpamCatcher-Score: 1 [X]
Received: from [136.167.40.119] (HELO dc.edu)
by fe3.dc.edu (CommuniGate Pro SMTP 4.1.8)
with ESMTP-TLS id 61258719 for example_to@mail.dc.edu; Mon, 23 Aug 2004 11:40:10 -0400
Message-ID: <4129F3CA.2020509@dc.edu>
Date: Mon, 23 Aug 2005 11:40:36 -0400
From: Taylor Evans <example_from@dc.edu>
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:1.0.1) Gecko/20020823 Netscape/7.0
X-Accept-Language: en-us, en
MIME-Version: 1.0
To: Jon Smith <example_to@mail.dc.edu>
Subject: Business Development Meeting
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii; format=flowed
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit

The header should be read from the bottom to the top.

Email headers can be useful to anti-scam organisations as they can tell you who actually sent the mail, where replies will be directed and also prove that mails were sent from a particular domain, rather than just being spoofed to look like they were.

Finding Email Headers

The following pages walk through how to find email headers for a number of popular mail systems:

Finding Headers in AOL Mail

Finding Headers in Gmail

Finding Headers in Outlook.com

Finding Headers in Yahoo! Mail