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How do I view full mail headers in Outlook?

How do I view the “details of internet headers” for a single email in
Outlook 2003? I know how to do this in Outlook Express, but can’t find it in
Outlook.

Most email clients try to save you from having to look at all the
bookkeeping information that accompanies each email message. There’s a bunch of
information with each message that you normally don’t see, typically called the
“email headers”.

But what if you want to see them?

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First, let’s look at what we mean by mail headers. Here’s an example:

Return-Path: <lnotenboom@hotmail.com>
Delivered-To: 1-leo-clean_nospam@pugetsoundsoftware.com
Received: (qmail 13384 invoked by uid 110); 13 May 2005 21:33:53 -0000
Delivered-To: 1-leo_nospam@pugetsoundsoftware.com
Received: (qmail 13380 invoked from network); 13 May 2005 21:33:53 -0000
Received: from bay107-f18.bay107.hotmail.com (HELO hotmail.com) (64.4.51.28)
  by pugetsoundsoftware.com with SMTP; 13 May 2005 21:33:53 -0000
Received: from mail pickup service by hotmail.com with Microsoft SMTPSVC;
     Fri, 13 May 2005 14:33:53 -0700
Message-ID: <BAY107-F18247D6C6473F92CC602D8D2120@phx.gbl>
Received: from 64.4.51.220 by by107fd.bay107.hotmail.msn.com with HTTP;
    Fri, 13 May 2005 21:33:52 GMT
X-Originating-IP: [64.4.51.220]
X-Originating-Email: [lnotenboom@hotmail.com]
X-Sender: lnotenboom@hotmail.com
From: "Leo Notenboom" <lnotenboom@hotmail.com>
To: leo_nospam@pugetsoundsoftware.com
Bcc:
Subject: Example Email
Date: Fri, 13 May 2005 14:33:52 -0700
Mime-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; format=flowed
X-OriginalArrivalTime: 13 May 2005 21:33:53.0097 (UTC) FILETIME=[75980390:01C55803]

Now headers on any given message may look a lot different. It may
be longer or shorter, or have additional information, or less. But the basic
idea is that there’s a lot of information in the headers that has to do with
the administration of getting the email from the sender to the receiver.

Most email clients hide all that and show you only the stuff you care about:
“To:”, “From:”, “Subject:”, date and time, that kind of thing. It’s rare that
you actually need to see everything else.

To actually view the mail headers of a message, the steps are naturally
different for each mail client.

Outlook

For Outlook 2010 (and possibly 2007) see: How do I view full headers in Outlook 2010?

In previous versions: right-click on the message in the message
list:

Popup Menu

Click on Options, and you should see a dialog box similar
to this:

Dialog Box

The section labeled “Internet headers:” contains the full internet headers
for the message. Unfortunately it’s almost always too small to show them
completely. While you can scroll up and down within that box, I find it easier
to copy them to notepad to view. Click in the headers, type
Ctrl+A, followed by Ctrl+C to select all the
headers and copy them to the clipboard, than then open notepad and click on the
Edit menu, and then Paste.

Outlook Express

Outlook Express is naturally different. Right click on
the message in the message list, and this time select
Properties. Click on the Details tab in the
resulting dialog, and you should see something like this:

Outlook Express Dialog Box

This time, however, the box with the internet headers cannot be so easily
copy / pasted into another application. Instead, you can press the
Message Source button and get the entire message, including
its headers, in a resizable, scrollable window (that you can copy / paste from,
if you like).

Thunderbird

Thunderbird is perhaps easiest of all in this regard. Just
click on the little boxed plus sign at the top of the message, and the header
will expand to show all entries:

Thunderbird Details

In Thunderbird 3, click on “other actions”, and select the “view source” item to view the entire original source of the email message, including the message headers.

Mail clients, including free email services, are all different. Some may
display full headers by default, others will hide them, but provide some way,
perhaps obscure, to view them.

The good news is that it’s rare you’d actually need to see them anyway.

(Updated April 17, 2011 for Outlook 2010 and Thunderbird 3.)

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13 comments on “How do I view full mail headers in Outlook?”

  1. Microsoft couldn’t tell me how to access a header in an Outlook message (their instructions didn’t make sense 🙂 but you did – thank you very much 🙂

    Reply
  2. The information is somewhat correct, however when viewing the Internet headers in Outlook, this information is NOT the full Internet headers, needed to report spam. The example you show in Outlook is insufficient to report spam. Apparently it is impossible to get Microsoft to explain how to do this, unless you use a patch-in hack code for the Outlook registry. They obviously have not built that into the Outlook system, like they have for express.

    Reply
  3. I have two questions.
    a) Is it possible to retrieve the full headers on an email that was forwarded? For example, if someone forwards me an email that he/she received, I know that I can get the full header for the person who sent me the email directly, but can I get the header for the person whose email is being forwarded? (hope the question makes sense)
    b) Can I get the full header to an email if that email was copied and pasted and sent to me as a new message. In other words, it wasn’t sent to me as an attachement, nor was it forwarded. It was copied and pasted. I can see the person email address, date, etc…but is it possible to get the headers from that?

    Thank you!

    Reply
  4. —–BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE—–
    Hash: SHA1

    It depends on the mail program that was used to do the forwarding or
    copy/pasting. The answer is typically “no”, but in those cases where it’s yes,
    the headers are obvious and displayed as part of the message that you recieve.
    If you don’t see them, they’re not there.

    Leo

    —–BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE—–
    Version: GnuPG v1.4.7 (MingW32)

    iD8DBQFHKMXqCMEe9B/8oqERAgR8AJ9rS3SInJ2CtsjXzRPKtu68R27knACfRfIG
    UFCzkGEQNWrMjM/bOSxL1ZA=
    =B4CQ
    —–END PGP SIGNATURE—–

    Reply
  5. Answer above for Outlook address information is fine for all e-mails except those I send.

    How to I tell who I sent it to? I have “replied” to e-mails and in some cases it is NOT the address I received it from but a very similar name in my contact list. I can’t tell where it went. Now what? Seems very dangerous to be unable to confirm where you actually sent something.

    Reply
  6. In outlook 2003 some of the messages I am receiving show the full header in the message, which makes it very difficult to read. How do I hide them from the email message?

    Thanks
    Brian

    Reply
  7. I’m on Outlook 2010. The example you show for Outlook doesn’t look like mine. There isn’t an “option” when I right-click on an email. Is it possible to see headers using Outlook2010?

    Thanks,
    J.R.

    Reply
  8. I read your article on viewing header information in Outlook 2010 emails. But, how do I view the header information for a SENT email in this program? I need to see who was included in the BCC.

    Reply
  9. @Beverly
    I had a similar dilemma. I finally figured out this in order to see the BCCs in a sent email you have to set the default to show the BCC field in all of your new emails. Here’s how to do it:
    This is a one time procedure.
    1. Click on “New Email”
    2. Click on the options tab
    3. Click the BCC show fields button
    From now on BCC will appear in all of your outgoing Emails (Not a bad idea as it is always there in case you need it)
    After that when you open a sent email (you won’t see it in the preview window) the BCC field will appear in your email.

    Reply
  10. I am currently researching how to post a spam e-mail t SpamCop. Windows 7, Outlook 2007, having difficulty getting SC to accept. I get an error regarding missing header info. Please advise. Thank you.

    Reply

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