Diagnosing Email: How to forward message headers

Diagnosing Email: How to forward message headers

May 14, 2015

When email goes wrong, one of the things your IT support may ask for is a copy of the full message headers. Headers are the audit trail of how the message was processed and the path it took to get from the sender to your inbox. Normally you don't see most headers. The ones you do see are To:, From: and Date:, but there are many others contained in most email messages. Your IT support can use these headers to diagnose how the message was handled along the way.

Mail headers

Example mail headers

Different mail clients handle forwarding headers in different ways. Here's how to forward headers from some of the common client programs.

Outlook 2013

  1.  Start a new message.
  2. Select Attach Item from the toolbar.
  3. Select Outlook Item.
  4. Browse to the message you are inquiring about, and select it to attach it.
  5. Send the message.

Office 365 Outlook

  1. Open the email message by double clicking it.
  2. Click on the ellipsis (the 3 dots) to the right of "Forward" to open a drop-down menu
  3. Click "View Message Details".
  4. Select all the text (Click anywhere in the text and then press Ctrl-A) and copy it. 
  5. Close the header information window.
  6. Click on the forward icon of your message. 
  7. Paste the copied text at the beginning of the message. 
  8. Send the message.

Thunderbird

  1. Open the message you want to forward.
  2. Select Message | Forward As | Attachment from the menu.
  3. Send the message.

Zimbra

  1. View the message you want to forward.
  2. Click the Forward button.
  3. Click Options | Include original as attachment.
  4. Send the message.