How to: View email Headers in Outlook 2010

Normally I hear my Users complaining about the changes in Microsoft Office, and my standard response is something along the lines of CRY MORE N00b!!!1!11!1!eleventyone! “Well it’s Microsoft, what are you gonna do?”. But today I am feeling their collective pain. See I installed the Office 2010 RTM on my personal workstation.

Is Microsoft trying to make life more difficult for SysAdmins? Specifically, why (for the love of whatever god you believe in) would they hide the button to view email headers? I need email headers. They give me information. Useful information. Like why my spam filter is marking legitimate email as spam (you know little things like that).

Just not in Outlook 2010. Or at least not where it used to be, or where you’d think it should be. See in Outlook 2003, or 2007 (and I’m pretty sure it was even this way in Outlook XP and 2000), you simply right-click the email, and select “Message Options…”, and you get to see header information. Easy, right?

Apparently there is some guy at Microsoft that thought this was too confusing (or maybe I don’t know,  too easy), and simply had to be changed in Outlook 2010. Ok, no problem, I’ll just bust out some Google Fu, and we’ll be off to the races.

10 minutes later, I find my self wanting to fly to Redmond to beat the tar out of that guy. I’ve found several forum posts, and blog entries that describe ways to do it that simply do not exist in the RTM version of Outlook 2010 (I defy you to open an email in the RTM version of Outlook 2010, and find a View tab in the ribbon). Finally I find one that works. Hopefully this saves you guys some trouble.

Method One (the long way):

  1. Open the email
  2. Click the File Tab
  3. Click the Properties button (?)

Ok, so at least now I know how to view it, but now I have to actually open the email I want the header information for, and this is just way too much work. I want this to be as easy as it was in previous versions of Outlook.

You’ll notice in this screen shot:

That I have a button for showing the “Message Options” (Header information) in the “Quick Access Toolbar” (wasn’t easy to get it there).

Method two (the easier way):

  • Click the Drop down arrow in the Quick Access Toolbar (“QAT” from here on), and select “More Commands”, as shown below.

  • Now follow along in the screen shot below: (1) select “All Commands” from this drop down, (2) find and select “Message Options…” , (3) click “Add”, Click “OK”.

  • Now you can view header information for any email without having to actually open the email, as shown below.


Things like this are why Apple products and Open Office are gaining so much ground on you. I understand updating the Office interface to the ribbon style menus (I don’t like it but I understand it). You should have done it all in 2007, or just waited until 2010 to do any of it.


59 Responses to How to: View email Headers in Outlook 2010

  1. Josh says:

    Awesome article. Sure is much harder to find in Outlook 2010. I definitely appreciate the steps for including it in the Quick Access Toolbar.

  2. Gary says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

    I found Microsoft’s directions to view the header information and was floored to find that I would have to open a suspect email in order to learn where it came from; then again, this is the same company that sets the reading pane to open as default.

    Again, thank you for taking the time to post, and to post such a professional set of instructions.

  3. Thank you! Yeah, I should’ve thought of that myself as I had to add hidden items in Excel (I’m looking at you Pivot Table wizard). It’s nice to look at the headers without opening the email, especially when you know it’s bad email, and you don’t want to risk anything malicious by opening it.

    Microsoft, I know you’re trying to make everyone’s life easier, but we admin’s are people too. If you prick us do we not bleed? If you move our menus around, do we not run to Google and find an answer?

  4. Pingback: How to: Single space envelope addresses in Word 2010? « Joe-IT: Technology done right

  5. Don Johnson says:

    Joe, I would have killed to have you on my IT team (retired now, no stress!!!)
    Recently upgraded to the 2010 suite after years of loving Thunderbird.
    Many of the articles out there assume you need to open the email – BAD.
    Your instructions are so thorough (pointy arrows, etc) the only people you might confuse are Microsoft developers, who delight in complicating life.

  6. Wes Stanton says:

    THANKS! That

  7. Laura says:

    totally awesome info and easy to follow instructions – thank you!!!!!!!

  8. Liza says:

    Brilliant! Thanks for the time you put into this.

    Next: Have you ever opened a document, created in a previous version of Word, containing footer text, and tried inserting a Page Number using Word 2010?

    Also they have messed up the footer spacing for European A4 pages… Now we must remember to manually increase the: Footer from Bottom spacing, to 1.5cm (always 1.25cm in previous versions!) otherwise the bottom half of the text goes missing.


  9. Dan says:

    Sure needed this, not like 2007.

  10. Hal says:

    Thank you very much. I just received what I believed to be a fishing message, but could not tell for sure without this capability. I really appreciate you explaining this so clearly. I used Method 2, as I will probably need this again in the future.

  11. UnderwearNinja says:

    This is awesome, thank you.

  12. Meri Anstead says:

    GREAT INFO! Thanx to all who help “de-code” Microsoft’s antics!

  13. Thanks for this great research! Here in Europe in the middle ages ‘undesirables’ were often ‘hung, drawn and quartered’. This involved hanging the offender by the neck until nearly dead. But before the victim expires, a sharp knife or axe is used to hack into his chest cavity and pull the still beating heart out of his body. Finally for good measure, the body is then cleaved into four parts, starting between the legs upwards to the head and shoulders and completing the job with an artistic flourish by horizontally severing the torso from the hips and legs. This sounds like appropriate treatment for the maniac at Redmond responsible for mutilating the Outlook email client program 🙂

  14. Ozgun says:

    Thank you for taking the time to write this. Much appreciated.

  15. Siva says:

    Thanks for the tip and your time!

  16. Gregory Phillips says:

    Thank you VERY much. How Microsoft could think it was a good idea to hide the header information and force you to open the email to see where it was from is beyond me.

  17. David Leathers says:

    Thanks, The designers of Outlook were definitely not thinking about Exchange admins…

  18. Thomas says:

    I am unable to get the header of send emails. For all other folders, even for deleted mails i can get headers by following this instruction. Can someone please help me

  19. Just Joe says:

    This is normal behavior for Outlook. The sent email in Outlook should only show an antivirus stamp (if the antivirus software installed on that computer has an Outlook Agent).

    The header information is added to the email before it has hit the server, and hence there will be no other information present your copy of the email.

  20. Gar says:

    Kudos my friend! Thank you for finding this! Outlook 2010 certainly did change a lot of things and made it complicated for users. I don’t know why they do this. I absolutely hate that ribbon. I wish they would allow us to choose on install either install the ribbon or install the drop down menus like it used to be, that would be splendidly wonderful!

  21. PJ Young says:

    EXCELLENT!! Thank you for addressing a concern I’ve had since “upgrading” (and I use the term loosely) to Office 2010.

  22. Teresa M. says:

    Have Mercy! That WAS painful, but thanks to you, it was do-able! I could not believe that I was expected to open a questionable e-mail to verify where it came from in the age of viruses and worms. Like everyone else, I thank you profusely for posting this.

  23. Marianne says:

    Thanks a lot for this! I installed Office 2010 on my new laptop last week and could not find the option for viewing the headers of (suspicious) e-mails. I’m not an admin, I wouldn’t even call myself an advanced user, but I know viewing e-mail headers is a very useful feature and it’s silly to have to actually open a suspicious e-mail to be able to view the headers. On a positive note, Microsoft did include a link to this page when I pressed the Help button to look for Internet resources 😉
    Of course, I immediately added the command to my Quick access toolbar according to your clear instructions.

  24. Just Joe says:

    Really, this post showed up in the internet help resources in Office 2010 help?

  25. Betsy says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you…. excellent directions, just the same as I like to do for my clients!

  26. mmmlatt says:

    Awesome. Thank you. It’s help.

  27. RedNeck says:

    MS do you see this! This is just one blog of many on the internet that address this issue. Start listening to your customers!

  28. devan says:

    I have message options on my Quick Access toolbar but it’s grayed out if the message is not open. Can’t get it to work come hell or high water, neither of which I want to happen. I’m getting too much spoof mail appearing to be from a key vendor. Who wants to open potential malware to discover that’s what it is. Message headers are needed by non-IT folks too! Happens with both my work mail as well as with my imap mail on home computer. May have to revert to my old office 2003.

    Any words of wisdom?

  29. Barbara C says:

    Thank you so much – details were very appreciated. I don’t usually have to need header information but on a few occasions in the past it has come in handy. Of course, it wasn’t as simple as before and this article was clear and to the point.

  30. Over the years I have become firmly convinced that Microsoft has employed people whose job it is to make life easier for other companies to beat Microsoft. What other explanation can there be for the continued stupidity at Microsoft?

  31. Mike says:

    This is fantastic.Thanks I can now work out which email address my spam is being redirected from. What used to be a simple right click in Thunderbird has been buried in a tomb hidden under the sand by M$.

  32. Agus says:

    Thank you.for posting this. Very useful.

  33. Clancy says:

    Saved my day, thanks for your research and work. Every time a “new” Microsoft Office arrives, I spend more time figuring out where they have hidden prior useful features. I think they are trying to protect us or assume most of us are idiots and don’t know what we need.

  34. Dude of Life says:

    Wow. What a great article. Saved me from having to poke the grumpy SysAdmin bear.

  35. John Marchant says:

    Thanks for the great and simple info.

  36. --DMan-- says:

    As I recently discovered, you can also get the details via:
    Open Message>Message Tab>Tags>Arrow at bottom right

  37. cindy says:

    Thank you! Although I don’t understand why I don’t have the properties option, the second way was helpful.

  38. yendor says:

    Using the first method, I still had no header info in the properties box until I went to
    “Send/Receive” on the main menu and clicked “Download Headers”.

  39. david says:

    it should be easier then this, but it works great once setup

  40. J Salb says:

    Joe, thank you.

  41. Very helpful. Thank you.

  42. Todd says:

    Thank you for posting – I was beginning to think I would have no option but to open suspicious emails just to inspect the headers.

  43. Al says:

    Thank you for this great information, very useful tool for admins

  44. nicole says:

    Great article, most informative, very helpful and thank you so much. Please work for Microsoft!

  45. Devil in the Details says:

    At last! No one, including my go-to IT people of many years, has known how to view the headers in this program. I already had figured out how to add the icon to the QAT, but I hadn’t discovered how to use it to view the headers. How easy it all seems now! THANK YOU!

  46. Carl says:

    Good job, Joe! Not only a good tutorial on how to set this up, but the tone was very chuckle-worthy! Further chuckles ensued when I realized that Microsoft simply added a link to your post to provide help for folks seeking this information…

  47. debra says:

    Excellent directions on creating shortcut. I always have to google when I need to see Outlook headers. Now, I have an easily accessible shortcut. Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  48. Tobi says:

    THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!! ITA it wasn’t broke why change it .. What a PIA! But Thanks to you I can now view message headers.
    Thank You

  49. Thanks so much for taking the tmie to do this … and for fixing with Microsoft broke!

  50. vance decker says:


    rant follows below:

    Why are Microsoft (and google, and yahoo, and etc…) user interface designers so F#$&ING ARROGANT?!

    Why do they think that they are so brilliant, that they can just reason out all possible use cases that are necessary? Why not just give users a F#$&ING choice? If user interface designers could somehow be graded by actual end users, instead of having ZERO ACCOUNTABILITY and rationalizing stupid interface design decisions after the fact, then there would be a lot less user interface designers doing stupid S%#T!

    (I know there is some idiot at MS patting themselves on the back for a job well done, lamenting how people just don’t appreciate them…)



    Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of H1B VISA MS Employees posting “SOLVED” solutions to MS TechNet, there are plenty of those, however, there are no actual correct solutions posted. Only useless MS babble clogging up google searches…i had to find the actual solution, your blog, through reddit.

  51. vancedecker says:

    Reblogged this on Vance Decker Complains and commented:
    Microsoft Employees Still Suffering From Mysterious Mental Disorder! Entire Outlook Team Affected! Email Header Mystery Solved!

  52. Jerry says:

    Great Post! On a related note, here’s an answer to another annoying problem displaying email headers in Outlook:

    If Message Options is grayed out on an email message that you have moved from your inbox to another folder, especially if that folder is imap accessible, then 1) click the send/receive tab, 2) highlight the message(s), 3) click Mark to Download, and 4) click Process Marked Headers. You should now be able to click Message Options and see the email headers.

  53. Gus says:

    Thank merciful belzibub… This is my first line defence against sus email messages and has saved me from opening email that is fake and potentially loaded with script garbage

  54. Pingback: Find Headers Outlook 2010 |

  55. Pingback: How To View Outlook Email Header |

  56. Pingback: How To Retrieve Email Headers Outlook 2010 |

  57. Pingback: Outlook Mail Header Info -

  58. pam says:

    thanks Joe! it was driving me nutso

    those who wrote Outlook 2010 are wankers & retarded

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: