Gmail, Outlook, Apple Mail and More: How to View Headers in Email
If you are having problems with message delivery, one of the first troubleshooting steps is to view the email headers. You can do this by viewing the message source. We will explain the basics, then teach you how to view headers in email for the most popular clients. These include Gmail, Apple Mail, Yahoo! Mail, Thunderbird, and Outlook.
What Is the Message Source?
The message source is the raw content of the message. It’s more than the text you see on the screen when reading emails from colleagues and friends—this is just the message body. In addition to the text contained in the message body, the message source also includes the header and attachments.
The header contains metadata, which is essentially data about the message but not the content itself. The metadata includes information like the message sender, recipient, subject line, time, and other data points.
When you look at the source of an email, the header includes everything from the start of the message until you see line breaks in the wall of text. There may be several of these, as well as a line marking the Content-Type. The message body starts after this.
The information contained in these headers can be incredibly useful for troubleshooting message delivery issues.
What the Message Source Looks Like
Before we show you how to view message sources and headers in an email, it’s helpful first to look at an email’s sample layout. Below is an abbreviated and edited message that we sent to a LuxSci user:
Received: via dmail-2008.19 for +INBOX; Tue, 3 Feb 2021 19:29:12 -0600 (CST) Received: from abc.luxsci.com ([10.10.10.10]) by xyz.luxsci.com (8.13.7/8.13.7) with ESMTP id n141TCa7022588 for <email@example.com>; Tue, 3 Feb 2021 19:29:12 -0600 Return-Path: <firstname.lastname@example.org> Received: from [192.168.0.3] (verizon.net [22.214.171.124]) (email@example.com mech=PLAIN bits=2) by abc.luxsci.com (8.13.7/8.13.7) with ESMTP id n141SAfo021855 (version=TLSv1/SSLv3 cipher=DHE-RSA-AES256-SHA bits=256 verify=NOT) for <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Tue, 3 Feb 2021 19:28:10 -0600 Message-ID: <4988EF2D.email@example.com> Date: Tue, 03 Feb 2021 20:28:13 -0500 From: "Test Sender" <firstname.lastname@example.org> User-Agent: Thunderbird 126.96.36.199 (Windows/20081209) MIME-Version: 1.0 To: "Test Recipient" <email@example.com> Subject: Example Message Content-Type: text/html; charset=ISO-8859-1 Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit X-Comment: Lux Scientiae SMTP Processor Message ID - 1233710941-9110394.93984519
DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN"> Example HTML-formatted email Message.
We have broken up the above example into two parts. The first part shows what it looks like when you view headers in an email, and you can see things like the sender, recipient, IP addresses, date, and more. These details may be important for diagnosing email delivery issues.
The second part is a very stripped-down version of the body. Usually, this is where the contents of the message would be.
How to View Headers in Email: The Techniques for Different Clients
There are many different email clients with varying ways to check the source. You will need to follow the proper instructions for your client to view headers in the email.
How to View Headers in Gmail
To view headers in Gmail, you need to click on the message you want to inspect. Next, click on the three vertical dots in the top right corner of the message. In the menu that pops up, click on Show original. This will open up a new tab. At the top, it displays much of the information contained in the header. You can scroll down to view the entire header and the message body.
How to View Headers in Outlook
The first step to viewing headers in Outlook is to double-click on a message to open it. Next, click on File, followed by Properties. You will see the header information in the Internet headers box.
How to View Headers in Apple Mail
The Apple Mail app allows you to view all your email message headers by clicking on View, then Message, and then on All Headers. When you no longer need to view headers in your email messages, you can switch back to the default by clicking on View, then Message, then Default.
How to View Headers in Yahoo! Mail
To view headers in Yahoo! Mail, the first step is to open whichever email you want to inspect. You will see an icon with ellipses on the right side of the toolbar at the top of the message. Click on these three horizontal dots. In the menu that pops up, click on View Raw Message. A new tab will open, which will show you the complete source. The header will be at the top, with the message body after it.
When viewing the full content of an email message in LuxSci WebMail, click on the Headers tab at the bottom of the message display area. This will display the entire header. Alternatively, you can see the message source by selecting the View Source command from the Settings and Tools dropdown menu in the window’s upper-right.
How to View Email Headers in Mozilla Thunderbird
To view email headers in Mozilla Thunderbird, click on the relevant message. In the top right corner, click on the button that says More. In the menu that pops up, click View source. This will open up a new window, which contains the raw message. The header will be at the top, with the body coming after.
Mozilla Thunderbird (Older Versions)
When viewing the email message, click on the “View” menu option and select “Message Source.” You can also choose “View > Headers > All” from the menu and then expand the headers to show all of them. However, this view is not easily copied, and if there are many headers, there might not be room to view them all. Your best bet is to view the message source directly. If the message is large, the source will also be very large. In this case, the best bet is to choose “File > Save As > File” to save your message to a file (in EML format). You can then open this file with any text editor (like Notepad) and copy the headers.
When viewing the message in Outlook 2007, you’ll see an “Options” area at the top of the email. In that section, on the lower right, you’ll see a circular icon that says “More Options” when you hold your mouse over it. Click this icon. You’ll see a new window with a section at the bottom marked “Internet Headers.” The full headers of the message will be displayed therein.
Outlook 2007 Web Access
When viewing the message in Outlook 2007 Web Access, you’ll see a “toolbar” area at the top of the email. In that section, there is a “Message Details” icon. Click on that, and the Message Details area pops up. The “Internet Mail Headers” area contains the full headers for the message.
Right-click on the message in its folder and choose “Options.” You will see a section called “Internet headers.” The full headers of the message will be displayed therein.
Outlook Express 6
Right-click on the message in its folder and choose “Properties.” In the resulting pop-up window, click on the “Details” tab, and you will see a section called “Internet headers for this message.” The full headers of the message will be displayed therein. You can also click on the “Message Source” button to see the complete raw source of the message.
With Mail.app open and your message selected, go to “View > Message > Raw Source” to access the message source. This works in both Mail.app v2 and Mail.app v3.
With Entourage open and your message selected, go to “Message > Source” to access the message source.
Eudora (The New Version Based on Thunderbird)
For the new Eudora, which is based on Mozilla Thunderbird, you need to select the message in question and go to “View > Message Source” to access the message source.
Eudora (The Original)
For the older versions of Eudora, you need to double-click on a message to open it in a new window. Then click on the “blah blah blah” icon at the top. This will show you all of the headers for the message.
Select your message and choose “View > Message Source.”
When viewing the message in question, select from the menu “View > RFC-822 Headers.” You will see the entire message headers in a “Headers” tab in the message display area.
Select the message in question and then choose “View > View Source.”
When viewing the message in question, use the “E” command to export the message to a text file. This file will contain the raw message source, starting with the full headers.
Right-click on the message and choose “messages headers …” Highlight the headers and copy and paste. Alternately, press “Control-H” when viewing the message to view the full headers.
Another option is to forward the message as an attachment — so the full headers are preserved in the forwarded message:
- Create a new email message
- Drag and Drop the old message into this new message.
- In the “Drop message(s) into editor” dialog box, check the last check box at the bottom of the dialog box under the heading “Attach or include message?” From here, click “Add as an attachment instead of including.”
Getting Message Headers or Sources in Various Web-based Email Systems
Windows Live Hotmail
To get headers in Windows Live Hotmail, right-click on the message in your message list and then select the last option, “View message source.”
Open an email in AOL mail. Click on “actions.” Choose “View Message Source.”