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Email is one of the basic tools required to navigate the web. In addition to being the basic tool required to communicate with people, you need it in order to sign up for just about anything, so if you want to check up on your friends online or buy things online, you definitely need an email.
The downside is that this opens you up to a lot of scams and spams. It isn’t uncommon to spend quite a bit of time cleaning up your inbox. But you might be glad to know that the email you receive has enough information in there to find who sent the mail to you. If you want to, you can trace an email address back to its source. All you need to do is take a closer look at your email header.
Tracing an Email Address
The email you receive, in addition to the email id of whoever sent it to you, has routing information and the email metadata. Though most email clients don’t display the full email header as standard, they offer ways for checking out the email header.
Gmail Full Email Header: Access the email you want to trace. Go to the drop-down menu in the top-right corner, then select Show original from the menu.
Outlook Full Email Header: Double-click the email that you want to trace, then go to File > Properties. The information you need will be available in the internet headers.
Apple Mail Full Email Header: Open the email you wish to trace, then head to View > Message > Raw Source.
A few of the main email clients have been listed here. A quick search online will reveal details about the clients that have not been mentioned here.
The Data in a Full Email Header
You will see routing information as lines of data.
• Content type
The Original Sender of an Email
To find the IP address of the original email sender, you will have to go to the first Received in the full email header. The IP address of the server that sent the email will be available in the first Received line. This appears as X-Originating-IP or Original-IP.
In order to trace an IP address, you can make use of MX Toolbox. Enter the IP address in the box, change the search type to Reverse Lookup in the drop-down menu and then press Enter. You will be able to find a large amount of information related to the sending server in the search results.
Header Analyzers and IP Tracers
If you need quick results and do not have the patience to go through the process of learning all about the headers, you can make use of the following header analyzers.
• GSuite Toolbox Messageheader
• MX Toolbox Email Header Analyzer
• IP-Address Email Header Trace (email header analyzer + IP address tracer)
But keep in mind that the information you obtain might not be accurate when you use these sources. It is also trivially easy to spoof email headers, so you will have to take the results you find with a pinch of salt.