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Complete Step By Step Guide to Examine & Analyze Outlook Message Header

Published By Aswin Vijayan
Approved By Anuraag Singh
Published On October 4th, 2023
Reading Time 6 Minutes Reading

Analyzing the email message header can provide users various kinds of information. That can be extremely useful in forensic investigations and normal diagnosing email problems. Therefore understanding the importance of a message header, we have come up with a step-by-step guide to analyze Outlook message header.

But before proceeding any further, let’s have a quick glance at Message Headers.

What is an Email Message Header?

An email message header contains various types of technical & authentication details about the message, such as who sent it, the software used to compose it, and also the email server is passed through to the recipient along with its time and date, etc.

Why Analyze Outlook Message Header?

As we all are aware of the fact that organizations are rapidly adopting Office 365 and Outlook being one of the most leading email clients used for communication and information sharing within the businesses.

Most of the time users do exchange their crucial enterprise data over MS Outlook. Whenever a user receives an email over Outlook, it not only contains attachments and messages, it also contains an Email message header. In order to understand the route and checking the spamming of an email, the message header plays a very important role.

Hence using this information, it can easily be traced by analyzing the message header, whether there is any manipulation in the header of sender or receiver. It is very vital in checking the authenticity of an email message. In this way Analyzing a message header becomes a major asset for a forensic team in a cybercrime.

How to Find Message Header in Outlook Manually?

Outlook users can easily view a message header and can obtain all the information attached to it. A user can not see the message header directly in an email, as it is not visible in an actual email. Follow the guided steps to see a message header in Outlook.

Step 1. Open the “Outlook” on your computer.


Step 2. Select and open the desired email for which you want to obtain the message header.


Step 3. Now click on the “File” Tab.


Step 4. From the given options click on the “Properties” section.


Step 5. Here user can easily see the message header in “Internet Header Box”.


With the help of these steps, users can find and analyze it.

As you can see a complete email message header info in the above picture of Microsoft Outlook is attached in the email.

Let’s discuss in detail all the elements of an email message header attached to it.

Return-Path: This is used to process bounces from an email, moreover it defines where & how bounced email will be processed. One can reach the message sender by using the Return-path information.

Received: This is the most important and reliable component of an email message header, that contains all the list of email servers and computers by which the email passed in order to reach you.

This element of the header also supplies the IP addresses of all the email servers like the sender’s mail server, the receiver’s mail server, and the mail server used to pass the email to the receiver.

Message-ID: A unique id that is always assigned to each email message that reefers to a particular version of a particular email message.

For example: “Message-ID: “51030de3.622e420a.7228e.e2aa@mx.google.com

In this example, you can see a unique identifier in the message ID which is being assigned by mx.google.com for the purpose of identification.

Date: It simply specifies the date and the time of the associated email message, when compose and sent. It is completely dependent on the sender’s computer clock.

From: This element of an email message header, defines the name and email address of the sender. This element can easily be manipulated, hence it becomes the least reliable element of a message header.

To: It simply defines the name of the receiver in Outlook or in different words it can be said to whom the message was sent.

Subject: This element of a header simply displays the subject of the associated email message, that is specified by the sender of that email.

MIME-Version: This is basically a Multi-purpose Internet Mail Extension, which is an internet standard. This can extend the email message format. The version of the MIME protocol, that the sender was using at that time, can also be described by this.

Content-Type: This is one of the additional types of MIME header, that provides the information about the type of content to expect in the email message with the help of MIME-compliant e-mail programs. This also displays the email message format like HTML, XML, or plain text.

Free & Automated Way to Find Message Header in Outlook

In the above manual way, users have limited data to analyze and it becomes pretty important to analyze the complete data for forensics experts to find all the evidence in a cybercrime.

In this situation, it is suggested to use a professional Outlook PST File Forensic Tool, this utility is capable of displaying all the different types of information available in the message header.


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Note: If you want to keep the pdf versions of your Outlook Email then you can upgrade this free tool to its pro version.


Benefits Of Choosing an Automated Tool Over Manual Method

Using this utility, users can analyze all the routing details of the email message over different mail servers. Forensics experts can deeply analyze all the data available in the message header. These are some of the important views available in the pro version are:

Normal Mail View
Message Header

These are the few important views of this utility, users can find in it. With the help of the Hex view, users can deeply analyze and can find bit by bit information from the email header. Moreover, you can keep the email messages in pdf format on your local computer by upgrading to its pro version.

Concluding Words

Though the manual method is available for obtaining basic information from the email. But what if the user needs to do a deep analysis of it. Most forensics experts need to analyze the email data deeply.
Hence, in this article, we have provided a step-by-step solution to analyze outlook message header in the most convenient way.