Every day, email users receive many emails. Some of them are work-related emails, but others are spam from unknown sources. Each device that the email sender uses has an IP address, which acts as a "label" to mark the location of that device. If you want to track down the sender of a particular email, you can use the sender's IP address. While not every email address can be tracked, you can track most emails in detail by using the hidden fields provided by your email service provider. This article will guide you through tracing the sender of an email by IP address.
Step 1. Open your inbox with a browser or email client
If you receive a suspicious attachment, do not open the attachment. You can find the information you need without having to open the attachment.
Step 2. Find the header of the email
This section of the email contains the email route information and the sender's IP address. Most email programs, such as Outlook, Hotmail, Google Mail (Gmail,) Yahoo Mail and America Online (AOL) hide this information because they are considered unimportant. If you know how to unlock this hidden data, you can track down the sender of the email.
- If you use Outlook, go to your inbox and select the desired email. However, don't open the email in a special window. If you're using a mouse, right-click the desired email, or if you're using Mac OS without a double-key mouse, click the email while holding down the Ctrl key. After that, select Message Options from the menu that appears. The email header will appear at the bottom of the window.
- If you're using Hotmail, click the menu next to Reply, then select View Message Source. A window with address information will appear.
- If you're using Hotmail, click the menu next to Reply, then select Show Original. A window with address information will appear.
- If you're using Yahoo, right-click on the message you want, or press Ctrl and click on the message. Select View Full Headers.
- If you're using AOL, click Action on the message, then click View Message Source.
Step 3. Find the IP address of the email header
After following the steps above, the email header will appear in the email program/site. You don't need all the information in the header of the email.
If you can't find the IP address in the information window, copy the header to a word processor
Step 4. Find the X-Originating-IP information
While not all email programs display the sender's IP address in the label, finding the X-Originating-IP label is the easiest way to find the IP address in the header of an email. If you can't find X-Originating-IP, find the keyword Received and read through the information until you see a numbered address.
Use the Find function on your computer (by pressing Cmd+F on Mac OS or selecting Edit > Find on this Page in Internet Explorer and entering the desired keywords) to quickly find those keywords
Step 5. Copy the IP address you found
An IP address is a string of numbers with a dot separator, for example 188.8.131.52.
Step 6. Perform IP address lookups on specific websites
IP address lookup service providers generally allow you to look up an IP address for free.
Step 7. Copy the IP address in the column provided on the service provider's site, then press Enter.
Step 8. Pay attention to the information that appears
Most search results will show the city or province from which the email sender's IP address came from. Sometimes, the sender's computer name will also appear in search results.
- You can display full IP address information in most email programs. For example, if you use Hotmail, open your inbox and click Options in the top right corner of the screen. After that, select Mail Options > Mail Display Settings. Select Full in the Message Headers option, then click OK. Return to your inbox and select a message to view the email header. With that option, you'll see the full email header. Change the option to Basic to display the basic email header.
- Some IP search service providers also allow you to complain about emails that are considered illegal/unwanted. Enter the information you received to submit a complaint.