Senders IP

How To Find the Sender’s Original
IP Address Using Email Message Headers

The content of this page was originally produced by Ivan Mayrakov, whos website is at http://www.johnru.com

So you’d like to to find out just who is sending those email love letters, determine the sender of a blackmail message, or just root out the source of a virus emailed to you. There are indeed many such situations where you would like to know who sent a particular email message to you. This article will teach you how to use “Email Headers” to backtrack and find the original sender’s IP address. Don’t worry, it’s not rocket science. If it were, SPAM would still only be canned meat and an amusing Monty Python skit!

Theory…

Email messages, as in the case of their non-electronic cousins, have “envelopes” of a sort. In the case of email the envelope is composed of a series of “Headers“. These are just a series of lines of characters which precede the actual email message. Email programs such as Outlook do not normally display these Headers when displaying a message. From these Headers however, the email program is able to extract important information about the message, such as the message encoding method, the creation date, the message subject, the sender and receiver, etc.

Moreover, just as a postal envelope contains an address, a return address and the cancellation stamp of the post office of origin, an email message in these “Headers” carries with it a history of its journey to your email inbox. Because of this, it’s possible to determine the original IP address of the sender.

Since email programs do not normally display these Headers, we must first learn how to display them. Depending on the program, this is done in a variety of ways. The following sequences details the way to do this using a some email systems:

  • Gmail
    GMail
    In Gmail you need to open ‘original‘ emailOpen Gmail message and click for menu
    First open an email and click for menu.

    Gmail: In menu you need to choose Show original
    In menu choose ‘Show original

    GMail opens original email in new window or tab
    Track email headers in GMail

  • MS Outlook.com (former Hotmail)
    Outlook.com former MS Hotmail.
    Outlook: Right-click the message in the list
    Right-click the message in the message list

    Outlook: click View message source for email headers
    then click View source

    Hotmail open new tab to show headers
    Track email headers in Outlook.com (former Hotmail)

  • AOL mail
    AOL mail
    AOL Desktop software does not show headers, so you need to connect to email through WWW.AOL.COM via any browser. The View Message Source from context menu allows seeing headers.AOL mail: Right-click the message in the list
    You need right-click the message in the message list

    AOL: click View Message Source
    then click View Message Source

    AOL open new window to show headers
    Track email headers in AOL mail

  • Yahoo mail (obsolete)
    Yahoo Mail
    On Yahoo Mail you need to click “View Full header” from menu “More actions…” while you see message.Yahoo: click Compact header first
    click Compact header first

    Yahoo: Now choose full header
    Now choose Full header

    Headers in Yahoo Mail shown in pop up window
    Track email headers in Yahoo mail

  • Outlook Express” from Windows XP(obsolete)
    The Windows XP default email program, “Outlook Express“.
    First, select “Properties” from the “File” Menu, or just press ALT+Enter. Next, select the “Details” tab.

    Open Outlook Express menu to see email headers
    Open Outlook Express menu to see email headers
    you can track email headers in Outlook Express
    Headers in Outlook Express

     

  • Microsoft Office version of Outlook (obsolete)

    Here’s how to view the Headers in the Microsoft Office version of Outlook:

    • Open a message.
    • 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.
    • The Header information appears under the Delivery options in the Internet Headers box.

    Tracing headers in MS Office Outlook
    Headers in MS Office

As you can see on these pictures, a Header consists of two sections separated by a colon “:”. The first part is the Header’s name. The second is the Header’s data. In the case of postal mail, in principle, it is possible to write any kind of information (c/o, suite or apartment number, etc.) into the address information. Similarly email Headers can include any kind of information also. Usually however, an email Header will contain at least the following basic Header information: