print friendly version

Questions and answers

1080
How can I view the "full headers" of an email?


All emails begin with lines of information called headers (sometimes called internet headers) that give details about their origin, what systems they passed through, and other useful information. They are normally hidden from view when you read an email, and you only see the most basic header information such as who the message is from, its subject and the date and time it was sent.

The full headers can provide vital extra information when investigating email problems, and we will often ask you to send a copy of the full headers of an email when you need help from us.  Normally when you forward a message, only the basic headers are sent, but these are almost useless for the purpose of diagnosing problems. This is why we ask you to provide the full headers when you forward an email to us for analysis.

Note however that the headers will be absent from messages in your Sent or Sent Items folder, because when they are copied there at the time of being sent,  they will not actually have gone anywhere yet.

The method of forwarding a message with full headers will vary according to the email application being used.  Some examples for the most commonly-used email applications at Sussex (Outlook and OWA, Thunderbird, Apple Mail and Alpine) are given below.

OUTLOOK

  1. Double-click on the e-mail message to open it in its own window.
  2. Do one of the following,  according to your version of Outlook:
    • Outlook 2016: click on the File then Properties in the toolbar above the message text, the internet headers is shown at the bottom of the window:
      FAQ1080
    • Outlook 2013 and 2010: click the pointer on the bottom right of the Tags section in the ribbon:
      Outlook 2010 Tags option
    • Outlook 2011 (Mac): Right-click the message in the inbox and select View Source

  3. This opens, on the first two options above,

    • a Message Options box showing the message's internet headers:

      Outlook internet headers
    • on Macs,  a Text Edit window containing the complete plain text of the email including full headers.

      If you only wanted to view the full headers, you need not read further, but if you want to forward a copy of the headers, continue as shown below.

  4. Copy the Internet headers, like this:
    1. Click once in the text in the Internet headers: or Text Edit box
    2. Press Ctrl-A or Cmd-A (hold down Ctrl or Cmd while you type A) to 'Select All'. The selection will become highlighted like this:
      Outlook internet headers (selected)
    3. Press Ctrl-C or Cmd-C (hold down Ctrl or Cmd while you type C) to Copy the selected text to your computer's clipboard memory.
  5. Click on Close to close the Options box.
  6. Start a Reply to the message that asked you to send the full headers.  OR, if you don't have that message, start a New message to the appropriate address.
  7. Paste the text you copied in step 3 into the body of the new message, like this:
    - Click in the body of the message where you want to paste the headers.
    - Press Ctrl-V (hold down Ctrl and type V) to Paste the text you copied earlier.
  8. Type a few words of explanation above the pasted headers just to let us know why you've forwarded them.  It's worth also mentioning the name of the person who asked you, so that that person can be alerted to your message.
  9. Send the message.

OUTLOOK WEB APP (OFFICE 365)

  1. Right click on the required e-mail message to select it. In OWA, if the message is one of several in a conversation, double-clicking will open up the conversation list, and you'll need to double-click the required message again to open it in its own window:

  2. Click on View message details in the drop-down menu, to show the message's full headers:

    OWA 365: View message details

    If you only wanted to view the full headers, you need not read further, but if you want to forward a copy of the headers, continue as shown below.

  3. Left-click on the text in the Message details window and then drag the mouse cursor to select all the text

  4. Right-click on the highlighted text again, and this time click on Copy in the drop-down menu, which copies the highlighted text to your clipboard:

    OWA 365: Copy

  5. Click Close in the Message details window.
  6. Start a Reply to the message that asked you to send the full headers.  OR, if you don't have that message, start a New message to the appropriate address.
  7. Paste the text you copied in step 5 into the body of the new message, like this:
    - Click in the body of the message where you want to paste the text.
    - Press Ctrl-V (hold down Ctrl and type V) to Paste the text you copied earlier.
  8. Type a few words of explanation above the pasted headers just to let us know why you've forwarded them.  It's worth also mentioning the name of the person who asked you, so that that person can be alerted to your message.
  9. Send the message.

THUNDERBIRD

  1. Open the Application menu button (outlined in red below and labelled 1).
  2. Point to View (2 in the illustration below), then point to Headers (3), then click on All (4):


    All headers
    This switches display of all emails so as to show their full headers.

    If you only wanted to view the full headers, you need not read further, but if you want to forward a copy of the headers, continue as shown below.

  3. Click on the required message to highlight and preview it, then click on the Forward button:


    Forward button
  4. You will see the full headers shown in the message text window.  Enter the forwarding address into the To: box:
    Message with full headers
  5. Add any explanatory notes required, above the Original Message line in the message text window, then send the message.
  6. Switch the View from All back to Normal (step 2) if you don't want to continue seeing full headers on all your messages.

APPLE MAIL

  1. In Apple Mail, with the required message on display, open the View menu, point to Message, and select All Headers:

    Apple Mail View - Message menu

  2. The full headers will be displayed, as shown in this example:

    Apple Mail full headers

    If you only wanted to view the full headers, you need not read further, but if you want to forward a copy of the headers, continue as shown below.

  3. You can then copy the contents of this panel and then paste them into a new message to whoever asked you for a copy of the full headers.

ALPINE (new version of PINE)

  1. In Alpine, open the message for viewing.
  2. Type h so as to switch on viewing of full headers.

    If you only wanted to view the full headers, you need not read further, but if you want to forward a copy of the headers, continue as shown below.

  3. Type f to forward the message.
  4. Pine may ask you if you want to forward the message as an attachment; answer No to this.
  5. Enter the forwarding address and any notes of your own above the forwarded text.
  6. Enter CTRL-X (hold down CTRL and type x) to send the message.

Help us to improve this answer

Please suggest an improvement
(login needed, link opens in new window)

Your views are welcome and will help other readers of this page.

Categories

This is question number 1080, which appears in the following categories:

Created by Andy Clews on 12 March 2004 and last updated by Frank Melmoe on 24 March 2020