In email, what are full headers?
In email messages, headers contain the addresses of all the computer systems that have relayed a message in between the sender and you. Each computer that forwards the message along its route adds a line of information to the headers. Usually you do not see the full headers, as they can be fairly long and so are not displayed along with the common "From:", "To:", "Subject:", and "Date:" headers. The information provided in the full headers allows you to determine where a message actually came from, and how it got to your computer. This is sometimes necessary because the address you see on the "From:" line can be spoofed, or faked.
If an Indiana University email account is involved with a questionable email message, whether as sender or recipient, the University Information Policy Office (UIPO) investigates. UIPO staff need the recipient of the message to send them the full headers in order to track down exactly where the message came from, and the path that it traveled through the Internet. Only the original recipient of the message can provide full headers; they aren't available in forwarded copies of the original message.
Note: While UIPO staff can identify the sender's email service provider in this way, it may not be possible for them to positively identify the individual sender.
For instructions on displaying and sending full headers, see How do I display and send the full headers of an email message?
If you encounter any problems while trying to send full headers, contact your campus Support Center.
Last modified on October 27, 2011.