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How do I view email header in Hotmail, Gmail, AOL and Yahoo?

How do I view email header in Hotmail, Gmail, AOL and Yahoo?

The option to view email headers in popular email services is generally hidden because it’s not something the average user is interested in. In fact, most subscribers aren’t even aware that messages can potentially be tracked by checking out the information contained in the email header. Here is how you can display these details in Hotmail, Gmail, AOL and Yahoo! Mail web services.

Hotmail: View message source to get to the email header

How to view the email header information on Hotmail

Select the email for which you want the header to be displayed. Click on the small downward arrow beside the “Reply” link and choose “View message source” from the drop down. This will open a new tab (browser window) and display the email source at the top of which you will find the header information.

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Gmail: Show original

Display the email in its original form in the Gmail service

To get to the email headers in Gmail, open the desired message, then click the arrow to the right of “Reply” and select “Show original” option. A new tab will open with the header information at the very top.

AOL: View message source for headers

View the original message source in AOL

Open the message, click on the “Action” button and choose “View Message Source” from the menu. The header information is shown in a new browser window.

Yahoo! Mail: View full email headers

View the full email headers in Yahoo! Mail

Assuming you are using the latest version of the Yahoo! Mail interface, open the message and click on the small ‘gear’ (More options) icon. Choose “View Full Header” to get the desired information in a pop-up.

Tracking the email through its header information

Email messages can be tracked by the information contained in the header. Below is a sample header from a phishing email I got.

A sample email header from a phishing message

  • The “From:” line with the email address can easily be faked. Don’t get conned by this.
  • Obviously, the Subject too can be forged. This particular email supposedly comes from Paypal.
  • Since there is only one “Received:” line (in red) the message has come directly from the source. A header might have several such lines which mean the email has “met” other servers on its way before arriving at your inbox.
  • Though the current “Received:” line can be forged by a malicious server, a legitimate one will always put the I.P. of the server from where it has received the message.

You should always look at the last “Received:” line; not the first one. That will tell you the place from where you got the message.

“21company.com”, the web address mentioned in the email, is a Japanese web site. Now why would Paypal, who have tons of heavy servers, use something in Japan?

There are many online server that will analyse email headers for you – check them out. Just copy/paste the header information and get the work done.

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