Email messages normally show basic information such as the subject, content, and the email address of the sender. The email address of the sender is generally not sufficient to determine who sent the email. Many email accounts, such as those created in gmail, yahoo, or msn are in fact anonymous.
Email messages do however contain additional information know as ‘email headers’. Email headers comprise of lines of characters that precede the actual email message. Email programs do not normally show these Headers when displaying a message. Email Headers contain important information about the message. This can include the original Internet Protocol (I.P.) Address belonging to the sender of the message. I.P. addresses can be used to identify the sender of an email message. An IP address is usually represented in decimal notation (four numbers, each ranging from 0 to 255, separated by dots, e.g. 126.96.36.199)
An example of an email header is included below. The I.P. address in this instance has been highlighted for identification purposes:
Received: from teela.mit.edu (188.8.131.52)
by mail1.aol.com with SMTP; 30 Jun 2003 02:27:02 -0000
X-Spam-Checker-Version: SpamAssassin 3.2.3 (2007-08-08) on ipcop.cciu
X-Spam-Status: No, score=0.1 required=6.0 tests=RDNS_NONE autolearn=disabledversion=3.2.3
X-Spam-Report: * 0.1 RDNS_NONE Delivered to trusted network by a host with no rDNS
Received: from nskntotgx03p.mx.bigpond.com
by nskntmtas05p.mx.bigpond.com with ESMTP
for <email@example.com>; Thu, 22 Jan 2009 08:56:32 +0000
Date: Thu, 22 Jan 2009 19:56:32 +1100
From: "minwo" firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: ebay matter, please help
Since email programs do not normally display these Headers, you must first learn how to display them on the email program you used to receive the email. Methods for viewing an email header will depend on the email program you are using.
The “help” menu of the email program you are using may assist determining how to view email header information.
Below are some examples for accessing header information using the email programs Outlook Express, and Outlook:
First, open the email and select "Properties" from the "File" Menu. Next, select the "Details" tab.
Open the email and select “Options” from the “View” Menu.