View e-mail headers

Applies to
Microsoft Office Outlook® 2003
Microsoft Outlook® 2000 and 2002

You can view e-mail message headers within Outlook.

ShowHow?

  1. Open a message.
  2. On the View menu, click Options.

 Note   If you do not see the Options command, make sure you click View on the toolbar in an open message window. The View menu on the standard Outlook toolbar does not have the Options command.

Message Options dialog box

Callout 1 You must open a message first, and then use the View menu on the toolbar of the message window.
Callout 2 On the Tools menu, click Options.
Callout 3 Header information appears under Deleivery options in the Internet headers box.

The headers appear in the Internet headers box.

About message headers

When you compose a message on your computer, the message is processed by the e-mail server at your Internet service provider (ISP) (ISP: A business that provides access to the Internet for such things as electronic mail, chat rooms, or use of the World Wide Web. Some ISPs are multinational, offering access in many locations, while others are limited to a specific region.). When that message is for someone who does not have a mailbox on the server, the e-mail server forwards the message to another e-mail server. The message might go through several e-mail servers until it reaches the e-mail server where the recipient has a mailbox.

The recipient checks his or her mailbox on the e-mail server for his or her ISP. The recipient can then retrieve and read the message.

Message headers provide a list of technical details, such as who it came from, the software used to compose it, and the e-mail servers it passed through on the way to the recipient. These details can be useful for identifying problems with e-mail or identifying sources of unsolicited commercial e-mail messages.

As unsolicited commercial messages has grown exponentially on the Internet, so has the practice of providing false information in message headers. This is also known as spoofing. For example, a message may say it's from Eric Lang at Alpine Ski House (eric@alpineskihouse.com) when it's actually from a bulk e-mail service that promotes schemes to get rich quick. Therefore, before you send an angry message to someone complaining about his or her message, remember that, just as identity fraud is a growing problem, forged header information is also a possibility.

Contents of e-mail headers

Consider two people. One is anton@proseware.com and the other is kelly@litwareinc.com, who uses Outlook 2003. Let's look at a message from Kelly's Litware, Inc. account sent to Anton Kirilov at Proseware, Inc.

Microsoft Mail Internet Headers Version 2.0
Received: from mail.litwareinc.com ([10.54.108.101]) by mail.proseware.com with Microsoft SMTPSVC(6.0.3790.0);
Wed, 15 Dec 2004 13:39:22 -0800
Received: from mail ([10.54.108.23] RDNS failed) by mail.litware.com with Microsoft SMTPSVC(6.0.3790.0);
Wed, 15 Dec 2004 13:38:49 -0800
From: "Kelly Weadock" <kelly@litware.com>
To: <anton@proseware.com>
Cc: <tim@cpandl.com>
Subject: Review of staff assignments
Date: Wed, 15 Dec 2004 13:38:31 -0800
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: multipart/mixed;
X-Mailer: Microsoft Office Outlook, Build 11.0.5510
X-MimeOLE: Produced By Microsoft MimeOLE V6.00.2800.1165
Thread-Index: AcON3CInEwkfLOQsQGeK8VCv3M+ipA==
Return-Path: kelly@litware.com
Message-ID: <MAILbbnewS5TqCRL00000013@mail.litware.com>
X-OriginalArrivalTime: 15 Dec 2004 21:38:50.0145 (UTC) FILETIME=[2E0D4910:01C38DDC]

 Note   The sample header above might not contain all items found in your mail headers. These are the most common entries.

When Kelly sends an e-mail message to anton@proseware.com, she composes it from her computer, which is identified as (i101-177.nv.litwareinc.com). The composed text is passed from her computer to the e-mail server, mail.litwareinc.com. This is the last Kelly will see of it because further processing is handled by e-mail servers with no intervention from her. When the e-mail server receives the message for anton@proseware.com, it contacts Proseware's e-mail server and delivers the message to it. The message is stored on the proseware.com server until Anton checks his Proseware e-mail messages.

ShowContents of an e-mail header

The following is an explanation of each line of the header above:

Microsoft Mail Internet Headers Version 2.0

This header is added by Outlook.


Received: from mail.litwareinc.com ([10.54.108.101]) by mail.proseware.com with Microsoft SMTPSVC(6.0.3790.0);
Wed, 15 Dec 2004 13:39:22 -0800

This message transfer occurred on Wednesday, December 15, 2004, at 13:39:22 (1:39:22 in the afternoon) Pacific Standard Time (which is 8 hours behind Coordinated Universal Time (Greenwich Mean Time); thus the "–0800").


Received: from mail ([10.54.108.23] RDNS failed) by mail.litware.com with Microsoft SMTPSVC(6.0.3790.0);
Wed, 15 Dec 2004 13:38:49 -0800

This message transfer occurred on Wednesday, December 15, 2004, at 13:38:49 (1:38:49 in the afternoon) Pacific Standard Time (which is 8 hours behind Coordinated Universal Time (UTC); thus the "–0800").


From: "Kelly Weadock" <kelly@litware.com>

This message was sent by Kelly Weadock with an e-mail address of kelly@litware.com.


To: <anton@proseware.com>

The person to whom the e-mail message is addressed.


Cc: <tim@cpandl.com>

The person or persons who receive carbon copies of the message.

 Note   Recipients of blind carbon copies (Bcc) do not appear in the header.


Subject: Review of staff assignments

The subject of the e-mail message.


Date: Wed, 15 Dec 2004 13:38:31 -0800

The date and time that the e-mail message was sent, based upon the computer clock on the sender's computer.


MIME-Version: 1.0

Specifies the version of the MIME protocol that was used by the sender.


Content-Type: multipart/mixed;

This is an additional MIME header. It tells MIME-compliant mail programs what type of content to expect in the message.


X-Mailer: Microsoft Office Outlook, Build 11.0.5510

The message was sent using Microsoft Office Outlook with a build version of 11.0.5510.


X-MimeOLE: Produced By Microsoft MimeOLE V6.00.2800.1165

This is the e-mail software (MIME OLE software) used by the sender.


Thread-Index: AcON3CInEwkfLOQsQGeK8VCv3M+ipA==

This header is used for associating multiple messages to a similar thread. For example, in Outlook the conversation view would use this information to find messages in one conversation thread.


Return-Path: kelly@litware.com

This specifies how to reach the message sender.


Message-ID: <MAILbbnewS5TqCRL00000013@mail.litware.com>

The message has been given this number (by mail.litware.com) for identification purposes. This ID number always follows the message for life.


X-OriginalArrivalTime: 15 Dec 2004 21:38:50.0145 (UTC) FILETIME=[2E0D4910:01C38DDC]

This is a time stamp placed on the message when it first passes through a Microsoft Exchange server.

 
 
Applies to:
Outlook 2003