What are email headers? Email headers are that part of your email that contain the date, the subject, the information about who sent the email and to whom it was sent. (See our email headers example below.) Often you will be asked to provide “full headers” to a mailing organization, particularly if you are reporting spam, or a problem with email. That is so that you can help them to identify exactly who sent you the spam, and how they did it. Someone who is skilled at reading headers can usually see through even the most crafty attempt to falsify that information. Here is how to find those headers – it’s easy once you know how!

The email header is the information that travels with every email, containing details about the sender, route and receiver. Think of the email header as an airline flight ticket – it can tell you who booked it (who sent the email), the departure information (when the email was sent), the route (from where it was sent and how it arrived to you) and arrival details (identity of receiver and when it was received). If you were to book a flight using a false identity, you would quickly be stopped (hopefully!) by the authorities, and you’d never make it to your destination. Now imagine that same falsifying process being used for email – the result is often the same! In fact, that is one of the main ways that spam is identified: falsified email headers!

Email applications usually display only the portions of the email header that are useful to their users. An entire email header actually contains code and data that help email applications to identify, sort and deliver email. Email programs also use information contained in the headers to filter and block certain senders, such as known spammers; this is one reason that, for businesses, using an ESP (Email Service Provider) with a good reputation and close relationships with ISPs (Internet Service Providers) helps to ensure that your email headers are up to snuff, and can be identified as belonging to legitimate email.

Here is an example of a full email header. Where the receiver, Jane, might only see:

From: su***@ex*****.org
To: ja**@ex*****.com
Subect: Test
Date: Wed, 6 Apr 2011 12:56

..the actual (full) headers will look something like this (feel free to skip to the bottom of this full header to get to the instructions!):

MIME-Version: 1.0
Sender: Su***@Ex*****.org
Received: by with HTTP; Tue, 12 Apr 2011 13:47:56 -0700 (PDT)
Date: Tue, 12 Apr 2011 15:47:56 -0500
Delivered-To: Ja**@Ex*****.com
X-webmail-Sender-Auth: FqZkpw1fGE6dtbSQwTfXYdKPim8
Message-ID: < BANLkTimAwmaVAx+0b*****************@ma**.com>
Subject: Test
From: Susan <Su***@Ex*****.org>
To: Jane <Ja**@Ex*****.com>
Content-Type: multipart/alternative; boundary=000e0cd2e042896a6e04a0bece9b
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1
Delivered-To: Ja**@ex*****.com
Received: by with SMTP id x4cs47732wfg;
Wed, 6 Apr 2011 12:56:15 -0700 (PDT)
Received: by with SMTP id az2mr36649vdc.143.1302119774760;
Wed, 06 Apr 2011 12:56:14 -0700 (PDT)
Received: from smtp-verifiedoptin-03.aweber.com (smtp-verifiedoptin-03.aweber.com
[]) by mx.example.com with ESMTP id b10si1078199vdw.100.2011.; Wed, 06 Apr 2011 12:56:14 -0700 (PDT)
Received-SPF: pass (
example.com: domain of zAwsHMxstCzs7IyM7OyctEa0nKzMjOxMTA==@smtp-verifiedoptin 03.aweber.com designates as permitted sender) client-ip=;
Authentication-Results: mx.example.com; spf=pass (example.com: domain of zAwsHMxstCzs7IyM7OyctEa0nKzMjOxMTA==@smtp-verifiedoptin-03.aweber.com designates as permitted sender) smtp.mail=zAwsHMxstCzs7IyM7OyctEa0nKzMjOxMTA==@smtp-verifiedoptin-03.aweber.com; dkim=pass header.i=@aweber.com
DKIM-Signature: v=1; a=rsa-sha1; d=aweber.com; s=dkim_s1024; c=relaxed/simple; q=dns/txt; i=@
aweber.com; t=1302119772; h=Sender:Subject:Date:From:List-Unsubscribe:To:Content-type;
Received: (webmail 26125 invoked by uid 0); 6 Apr 2011 19:56:12 -0000
Message-ID: <48.AF.15048.C55CC9D4@ec3>
Content-type: text/plain; charset=iso-8859-1
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit
To: “Jane” <Ja**@Ex*****.com>
From: “Susan” <Su***@Ex*****.org>
Sender: Su***@Ex*****.org
X-Loop: Su***@Ex*****.org
X-Mailer: AWeber 4.0
X-Subscription: Subscribed on 03/30/2009, via email, by, from Su***@Ex*****.org
X-Verification: Verified by
X_Id: 304836:04-06-2011-15-22-46:Ja**@Ex*****.com/304836
Date: Wed, 6 Apr 2011 15:56:12 -0400
List-Unsubscribe: Su***@Ex*****.org?subject=unsubscribe;zAwsHMxstCzs7IyM7OyctEa0nKzMjOxMTA==>,

Whew! That’s a lot, isn’t it? We’re not going to go into what each item in the header means; that’s another article for another time, and if you have been asked to provide full email headers, the person or organization asking doesn’t usually expect you to know what they mean, they just want you to send a copy of the full headers to them, and they will do the rest.

How to Find Email Headers in Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, Apple Mail and More

So, how do you find your full headers to send to them?

It’s actually pretty easy! Just select your webmail provider or email client below for instructions on finding headers for a particular message! Then, copy and paste the full headers and send them to whomever is requesting them!

• Log in to your Gmail account.
• Open the message for which you need to get the full headers.
• Click on the 3-dot menu next to the Reply button, located at the top right of the message pane.
• Select Show Original.

• Log in to your Hotmail account.
• Select Inbox from the left-side menu.
• Right-click the message you want to view headers for and select View Message Source.

• Log in to your AOL account.
• Open the message for which you need to get the full headers.
• In the Action menu, select View Message Source.

• Open the message for which you wish to view the headers
• Click on the ‘More’ symbol above the message pane
• Select ‘View Raw Message’ – this will open a new tab with the headers

• Open Outlook.
• Open a message.
• On the Message tab, located in the Options group, click the Dialog Box Launcher icon.
• In the Message Options dialog box, the headers will appear in the Internet Headers box.

For older versions of Outlook:
• Open Outlook.
• Open the message for which you need to get the full headers.
• Click the View menu and select Options.

• Open Outlook Express.
• From your Inbox, find the message for which you need the full headers.
• Right-click the message and select Properties.
• Open the Details tab in the Dialogue Box.

• Open Thunderbird.
• Open the message for which you need to get the full headers.
• Click the View menu and select Message Source.

• Open Apple Mail.
• Open the message for which you need to get the full headers.
• Go to the View menu.
• Select Message, then Long Headers.

Got instructions for email providers or programs not listed above? Submit them here!

How to Find and View Email Headers in AOL, Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail, Outlook,  Apple Mail and More!

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