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How to view e-mail headers

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There may be times when you wish to be able to view e-mail headers to be able to see where an e-mail really originated from.

In OutLook Express.

From the In Box Panel
Right click the e-mail >>> Properties.
Click the "Details" Tab
From here you should be able to see the basic headers.

If you wish to view more information.
Click the "Message Source" Button.

In Hotmail

Click "Options" tab on the top navigation bar.
Click "Mail Display Settings" link.
Change the "Message Headers" option to "Full".
Click the "OK" button.

Understanding E-mail Headers.

When you look at the header, it may look rather confusing as there will be a list of "Received" details.

As a general rule you could say that the lowest address on the e-mail is where the e-mail actually orginated from - Check the time stamps and the oldest time will be the originating sender.

Because it is possible to "spoof" (falsify) e-mail addresses, rather than looking at the actual address you would be better looking at the senders IP address and then doing a trace on the IP no.

With virus infected mails, it is most likely that the e-mail address will have been spoofed.
(Your e-mail address and the supposedly "from" address, may both be in the address book of the true sender, whose PC will be infected with the virus - or it may simply be an address that the virus has either "picked up along the way" or has been programmed to display).

In these cases you will need to use the IP address and do a "Who is" trace here to see if you can find the true sender.

From there you may be able to identify the true sender, but because a lot of users are allocated dynamic IPs, you may only be able to ascertain the senders ISP, in which case you should contact the senders ISP abuse team (abuse@""), sending them a copy of the e-mail header, so they may resolve it to their customer.

Most ISP's will act on this information fairly quickly by writing to their customer advising them they have a virus on their PC and requesting that they remove it.

You may also like to use LevineCentral who have a handy form to help you parse an e-mail header.

More information on understanding E-mail headers can be found at

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