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How to analyze e-mail headers the easy way

Analyzing e-mail message headers can help pinpoint message delivery problems, but a full message header can be confusing to interpret. Fortunately, there's an easy way to analyze them.


E-mail messages weren't always as reliable as they are today, but problems can still occur during delivery. Reading message headers can help pinpoint delivery issues, like delays. But if you've ever tried looking at a full message header, you know that it can be a bit confusing to read.

Fortunately, there's a Web-based message header analysis tool that reads the header data for you and outputs it into a format that's much easier to analyze.

To use Message Header Analyzer, first copy the full message header from an e-mail message. If you need help figuring out where to extract the header, take a look at Google's tutorial for finding headers from different e-mail clients.

Next, paste the message header into the large text box in the Message Header Analyzer Web app, then click the Analyse button.

Message header analyzer
Screenshot by Ed Rhee/CNET

You'll end up with an easy-to-read display of each hop that your e-mail message took and any delays that may have occurred between servers.

E-mail header analysis
Screenshot by Ed Rhee/CNET

That's it. Now you can troubleshoot e-mail message delays a lot easier than having to decipher crude e-mail headers.