Kavi Mailing List Manager Help

Chapter 29. Access the Full Header for Email Troubleshooting

What Is the Full Header?

Full header information is vitally important to the process of troubleshooting email, but most people aren't aware of this hidden "envelope" information because it isn't displayed when they view their email. Then, when something goes wrong and people are asked to provide a copy of the email to support, they often forward a copy of the message without realizing that their software has only forwarded the visible portion of the header—the message header—and omitted the envelope header that is so important for troubleshooting.

The two parts of a full header are:

message header

Everyone who has read an email is familiar with the message header information. It includes the To:, From:, Subject: and Date: fields.

envelope header

This is the hidden part of the header. It contains information added by each server that transfers the email during the delivery process.

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How to Access the Full Email Header

Unfortunately, there are almost as many different ways to access the full header as there are email clients. The method that works best for you depends on how your email browser works. Instructions for some of the most popular email applications are described here. If you don't see yours listed here, you might see if yours has similar menu options or read your email browser application's help.


  1. Create a new email message that you will use to send the full headers to support and type in your question. There are two ways that you can send the headers, you can paste them into the bottom of this message below your question or you can send them as an attachment. Either way is perfectly fine, but it's usually easiest to copy and paste.

  2. Now open the email message that you want more information about. You are going to get the email source from this message, which includes the full header, and send this to support.

  3. Find your email browser or other email application (MUA) in this list and follow the instructions.


    Click the button that says BLAH BLAH BLAH (Really!) on the upper-left-hand corner of the message

    PC - non-HTML mail

    Click the button that says BLAH BLAH BLAH (Sic) on the upper-left-hand corner of the message.

    PC - HTML mail

    This requires a two-step operation because the software doesn't display the full header source with the message source.

    First, you have to access the full header source. Click the button that says BLAH BLAH BLAH on the upper-left-hand corner of the message. Select the header and paste it into the email you want to send to support.

    Now select the email again and right click on it. Select 'view source'. Copy the message source and paste it into the new email below the header source.

    Gnome Evolution

    View | Message | Display | Email Source

    Mac OS X

    Mail | Preferences | Viewing | Show header detail | All

    Microsoft Entourage

    View | Source

    Microsoft Outlook Express

    File | Properties | Details

    Microsoft Outlook 2000, Outlook 2002/XP

    View | Options | Internet Headers

    Mozilla Thunderbird

    View | Page Source

    Netscape Messenger

    View | Header | All


    If these don't work, try the Options menu or right-click on the open email to see if there is an option to view source or properties. If this doesn't work, you will probably have to read your MUA's online help.

  4. Check for the 'Reply-to' or 'Return Path' field to confirm you have the full header. If you can find either of these terms when viewing the email message, then you are looking at the email message source, including the full header. If you can't find either of them, see If It Didn't Work for You....

  5. Copy and paste the entire source of the email into the bottom of your new email and send it off to support. If your email client makes it easy to send the message source as an attachment, that's fine, too.

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Congratulations! You've Just Become an Email Power User!!!

Now, wasn't that harder than you thought it should be? Take a brief moment to enjoy the heady sense of power and accomplishment that can be derived from wresting an envelope header from its hiding place. Ahhhhh!

If it didn't work for you...

Perhaps you are using some platform not covered in the previous instructions—or you followed the instructions but still weren't able to access the source. Take one last look at the help for your MUA, and if you don't find the answers you need, it's probably time to contact your friendly support person. Be sure to provide the name and version of your OS (e.g., MacOS9, Windows98, , etc.), and the name and version of your MUA (the application you use to send email) and tell the support person you would like to provide a full email header for troubleshooting purposes—if only you knew how. Hopefully they will send you some instructions which you can save somewhere on your hard drive for future reference, because if you correspond regularly through email, you're going to want to access email header source again someday.

Beyond Email Header Access

If you enjoyed finding the full headers (and who wouldn't?), you may be interested in learning more about how to troubleshoot email.

KaviŽ Mailing List Manager help includes extensive information on email and troubleshooting and it's available online. The troubleshooting documentation is aimed at a users with a wide range of technical knowledge, so you may find some of it too technical for your immediate needs. Certain documents, particularly the troubleshooting flowcharts, include instructions for users who have access to Kavi tools that may be unavailable to you. Even when this is the case, you may find the troubleshooting flowcharts useful if you follow the steps until you reach the limits of your knowledge or the tools available to you. If you reach this point without finding your solution, follow the instructions on preparing information to send to support that are included in the flowchart instructions. You'll already have the full header, for which the support team thanks you in advance.

Any of the following documents may serve as a starting point. Select the one that seems most likely to meet your needs.

Email troubleshooting documentation

Composing Email to Post to a List

How to construct an email to post to a mailing list so it isn't rejected by spam filters, etc. Read this if you sent a message to a list and it wasn't posted for some reason.

How Really Email Works

Email is more complex than transferring a message directly from a sending computer to a receiving computer. Read this if your email ran into a problem somewhere in the email delivery chain.

Analyzing Email

This will teach you how to read an email header, but you need to understand How Email Works.

Bounces and Automated Bounce Handling

If your email bounced and you want to learn more, read this.

Introduction to Troubleshooting Email

Read this for an overview of all available troubleshooting tools and documentation, including flowcharts that guide users through troubleshooting the most common email problems.

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