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What Are Email Headers


Email headers are found at the beginning of each email. They contain detailed information about the sender of the email and to whom it is delivered in addition to other details used by the sending and receiving email software in an attempt to validate that the message is valid and not spam.

What Is Contained In Email Headers?

In the headers you'll find things such as who the email is delivered to, when the email was received, the return path (reply to), the SPF received status (pass, fail, etc.) and much more. See RFC 822 for more information.

An example of an email header is found below.

Delivered-To: example@unlocktheinbox.com
Received: by 10.10.10.10 with SMTP id sdk88d8fuzl;
        Mon, 30 May 2011 00:07:07 -0700 (PDT)
Received: by 10.10.10.10 with SMTP id sdk88d8fuzl.222.5465455621259;
        Mon, 30 May 2011 00:07:06 -0700 (PDT)
Return-Path: <example@senderdomain.com>
Received: from server.senderdomain.com (server.senderdomain.com [10.10.10.10])
        by example.unlocktheinbox.com with ESMTP id dsdf89sksdjfa8.52.2011.05.30.00.07.04;
        Mon, 30 May 2011 00:07:05 -0700 (PDT)
Received-SPF: pass (unlocktheinbox.com: domain of example@senderdomain.com designates 10.10.10.10
              as permitted sender) client-ip=10.10.10.10; Authentication-Results: 
              example.unlocktheinbox.com; spf=pass (unlocktheinbox.com: domain of 
              example@senderdomain.com designates 10.10.10.10 as permitted sender) 
              smtp.mail=example@senderdomain.com; dkim=pass (test mode) 
              header.i=example@senderdomain.com
DKIM-Signature: v=1; a=rsa-sha1; c=relaxed/relaxed; s=s1024; d=senderdomain.com;
 h=MIME-Version:Content-Transfer-Encoding:Content-Type:Date:From:To:Subject:Message-ID;
 i=example@senderdomain.com;
 bh=f8Jdjfslkdf8as8df89usdfd89sd7rnY=;
 b=asdfasef8sd7sdjksdf8sdfjkhsd89fsd89dfjksd879sd7wejkjkalidf78adf98df8sdfsd/sf88s
   jfasskdfsahsdaflkh784kjs7sekjsdf78++skkjdsf7f7s78a9jdjahldfkdkjashdlf
   fBllidalzkd88ladklf8sa=
DomainKey-Signature: a=rsa-sha1; c=nofws; q=dns; s=s1024; d=senderdomain.com;
 b=asdfasef8sd7sdjksdf8sdfjkhsd89fsd89dfjksd879sd7wejkjkalidf78adf98df8sdfsd/sf88s
   asd88slzmfy7362ksdkhjfa87sd7ifsdae8dsjsf8fkhd89s89dfks89d7ekkldf8df9d8sdfd/s8sA
   daefs7j89fsd89dfjksd879s=;
Received: by example.senderdomain.com (PowerMTA(TM) v3.5r15) id asdf44asdf44 for
         <example@unlocktheinbox.com>;
           Mon, 30 May 2011 00:07:02 -0700 (envelope-from <example@senderdomain.com>)
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Disposition: inline
Content-Transfer-Encoding: base64
Content-Type: text/plain
X-Mailer: MIME::Lite 3.023 (F2.74; T1.26; A2.04; B3.07; Q3.07)
Date: Mon, 30 May 2011 00:07:03 -0700
From: senderdomain.com <example@senderdomain.com>
To: example@unlocktheinbox.com
Subject: This is a test email. None of these values are real.
Errors-To: example@senderdomain.com
X-Reminder-To: R
X-Reminder-Processor: Summarized
X-Original-Sender: example@senderdomain.com
Message-ID: <0.4.45.cB8.dfs445wcc5ddzf.7@example.serverdomain.com>

How Do I View Email Headers?

Email headers are not typically displayed by default. Depending on your email client, you may need to do one of the following:
  • Press the reply button
  • Apple Mail - Open the email and then choose Messages > Long Headers from the View menu.
  • Outlook - Open the email and select Options from the View menu
  • Outlook Express - Open the email and select Properties from the File menu. The headers are displayed in the Message Properties panel of the Details tab
You can also email "mailtest@unlocktheinbox.com" which will respond to your email with a full analysis of your headers.


Source: Unlock The Inbox

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