Gmail: view email headers

Looking to trace spam or curious what’s going on behind a message’s scenes? Find out here how to show an email’s original source code in Gmail (including all MIME parts, attachments and tracking headers).

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First, It’s Dog Smelling Time

Scents, like memories, fade when they are not recreated.

Dogs, as it happens, are particularly adept at smelling, and chances are they use fading scents to tell the time. The weaker a smell is, the more time has passed.

Unlike a dog’s owner’s favorite scarf, emails do not smell…unless, of course, when they smell funny and phishy.

Just like scarfs carry scents emails do carry marks of their history, though. Every server that handled a message left its mark, for example, and to examine these marks, you’d view an email’s source in Gmail.

Let’s get to it:

How to Show the Original Email Source Code in Gmail

Gmail in a Desktop Browser

Time needed: 3 minutes.

To view an email message’s source—complete with all header lines and encoded attachments — in Gmail on the desktop:

Open the email whose message source you want to view.

Select Show original from the menu that has appeared.

Find the message source in the text area at the bottom.

Tip: Click Copy to clipboard to copy the message source and click Download Original to save the message as an EML file.

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On a Mobile Device

To access message sources on mobile devices such as phones, the quickest way is through basic HTML Gmail:

Tap I’d like to use HTML Gmail.Find and open the message.

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Tip: Do use search, of course, if the email is not right at hand.Tap Show original in the message’s header area.

How to Show the Original Email Source Code in Gmail: FAQ

Can Gmail show the HTML source of the email?

Yes. The email’s HTML source is typically hidden, though, and possibly twice:

First, many email messages use the multi-part MIME format and include plain-text as well as an HTML (and possibly others).The HTML source is in the Content-Type: text/html; section in the email’s source.

How do I use the source to track an email’s origin?

To quickly find an email’s origin:

Open the email source in Gmail. (See above.)Start from the top and stop only when you encounter the first empty line.

Work your way back up and look for the first line that begins with Received: from.Tip: You can use your browser’s text search, of course.

The Received: from lines, in succession from bottom to top will tell you in chronological order:– which server received the message (by)– from which other server (from)– addressed to which email address (for)– followed by the date and time.

You can then use the server name and IP address to look up information about the server or original sender, for example (using a tool like IP Info).

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Note that it is possible to enter “fake” Received: lines; these will always be the earliest (so farthest to the bottom in the email source).

Can I view the email source in the Gmail app for Android or iOS?

No, the Gmail apps do not let you view message sources directly.

Readmore: How To Switch To Compact View In Gmail, How To Change Gmail Display Using Quick Settings

You can open the original message in a mobile browser, however. (See above.)

Can I see the source in basic HTML Gmail?

Yes. To access an email’s source code in simple HTML Gmail:

Open the message.Follow the Show original link in the heading area.

(How to show the original email source code for tested with Gmail in desktop and mobile browsers; updated July 2021)

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