How to: Retrieve email headers

This tutorial explains the type of information that's contained in email headers and shows you how to retrieve those headers from email clients such as Outlook, Thunderbird, and Apple Mail. When investigating a problem with email delivery, Hover Support may ask for the headers of the message to help us pinpoint where the problem lies.

Sending an email involves two major parts: the SMTP communication that handles the sending and the email or message that is being sent.

Sending an email is much like sending a letter through the regular postal system. The terms messenger (client), envelope, body, and header all have well-known meanings. These terms have specific meanings when referring to email.

Messenger:

In regular mail, the messenger is the person delivering the letter. In email, the messenger is the email client, for example, Outlook, iphone mail app, or Thunderbird, webmail, from which the email is sent.

Envelope:

As with regular mail, the envelope is a wrapper that explains how the message is to be delivered: there's a sender (return address) and a recipient (delivery address).

Body:

The body of an email message contains the actual content, just like a letter.

Header:

The header contains metadata (information) about the message, such as the sender, the intended recipient, the originating date and time, and the subject. Furthermore, once a message has been received, the headers in the received message show the message's path (which mail servers it passed through) and how long it took to transmit.

Email headers contain information such as:

  • Time stamps and mail server delays of the sending mail server.
  • Time stamps and mail server delays of the receiving mail server.
  • IP address blacklisting.
  • "Tar-pitting" - a service on a server that purposefully delays incoming connections as a defence against computer viruses.
  • A list of the mail servers the message passed through.
  • Message spam reports, abuse issues and viruses.
  • Message size.
  • Message return path and file path.

The following sections explain how to retrieve email headers from some of the more popular email clients. You can click one of these links to go directly to that section:

Outlook 2013

1. In Outlook 2013, open the message by double-clicking on it.

2. Click the File tab, and then click Properties.

 

In the Properties dialog box, the headers appear in the Internet headers section.

 

3. Copy and paste the contents of the Internet headers section into your Hover support request, or paste the text into an application such as Notepad, save it as a file, and then attach the file to your help request.

Outlook 2010

1. In Outlook 2010, open the message completely (not just in the preview pane).

2. From the Actions drop-down menu, choose Other Actions, then View Source.

 

A window opens that displays the Internet headers and content of the email message.

3. Copy and paste the entire contents of that window into your Hover support request, or paste it into an application such as Notepad, save it as a file, and then attach the file to your help request.

Outlook 2007

1. In Outlook 2007, open up the message completely (not just in the preview pane).

2. From the Other Actions drop-down menu, choose View Source.

 

A window opens that displays the Internet headers and content of the email message.

3. You can copy and paste the entire contents of that window into your Hover support request, or paste it into an application such as Notepad, save it as a file, and then attach the file to your help request.

Outlook 2003

1. In Outlook 2003, open up the message completely (not just in the preview pane).

2. From the View menu, choose Options.

 

The Message Options window opens, and at the bottom you will see the Internet headers.

3. Copy and paste the entire contents of that section into your Hover support request, or paste it into an application such as Notepad, save it as a file, and then attach the file to your help request.

Thunderbird

1. In Thunderbird, open the message.

2. From the Other Actions drop-down menu, choose View Source.

 

 

A window opens that displays the Internet headers and content of the email message. If the email was sent as HTML you will also see the HTML source of the message.

3. Copy and paste the entire contents of that window into your Hover support request, or paste it into an application such as Notepad, save it as a file, and then attach the file to your help request.

Gmail

1. In Gmail, open the message.

2. Click the down arrow at the top of the message pane, and choose Show original.

 

A window opens that displays the the Internet headers and content of the email message. If the email was sent as HTML you will also see the HTML source of the message.

3. Copy and paste the entire contents of that window into your Hover support request, or paste it into an application such as Notepad, save it as a file, and then attach the Notepad file to your help request.

YAHOO!

1. In YAHOO!, do one of the following to select the message:

  • Open the message.
  • Click the checkbox next to the message in your Inbox. Make sure that only one message is selected, that is, only one message displays a checkmark.

2. From the More drop-down menu, choose View Full Header.

 

A window opens that displays the Internet headers.

 

 

3. Copy and paste the entire contents of that window into your Hover support request, or paste it into an application such as Notepad, save it as a file, and then attach the Notepad file to your help request.

AOL

1. In AOL, there are two ways to view the headers:

  • Position your cursor over the message in your Inbox, right-click, and choose View message source.

 

  • Open the message completely (not just in the preview pane), and from the Action menu, choose View Message Source.

 

A window opens that displays the Internet headers and content of the email message.

2. Copy and paste the entire contents of that window into your Hover support request, or paste it into an application such as Notepad, save it as a file, and then attach the Notepad file to your help request.

Hotmail

Note: Hotmail is now Outlook.com.

1. There are two ways to view the headers:

  • Position your cursor over the message in your Inbox, right-click, and choose View message source.

 

  • Open the message, and then from the Actions menu, choose View message source.

 

A window opens that displays the Internet headers.

2. Copy and paste the entire contents of that window into your Hover support request, or paste it into an application such as Notepad, save it as a file, and then attach the Notepad file to your help request.

Apple Mail

Apple Mail

1. In Apple Mail, open the message, and from the View menu, choose Message, and then All Headers.

 

Apple Mail

 

A window opens that displays the Internet headers and content of the email message.

2. Copy and paste the entire contents of that window into your Hover support request, or paste it into an application such as Notepad, save it as a file, and then attach the Notepad file to your help request.

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1 Comments

  • 0
    Avatar
    Jan van Wyk

    Hi, When I use Hover webmail for any e-mail address in my domain - ackmain.com - I can not see the body of the message when I click on the message. Only the header appears. If I forward the message., then I can see the body and contents of the mail. I am using Internet Explorer 11 to view my messages. Please find attached an example.

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