How To Trace An Email Using Its IP Address (for Free!)

In the beginning of the web, tracing an email address was practically impossible. Nowadays a bunch of free tools for this purpose have sprung up all over the web. Availability of these tools combined with an improvement in tracking geographic locations of world IP addresses, have made the job a lot easier.  In this article I will explain how to trace an email address back to its original sender using freely available tools.

How To Obtain The Email Headers

To trace an email address, we first need to obtain the IP where that email came from. This can be found on the email headers. An email header  is basically code containing information necessary for communication and routing. Usually headers are hidden from regular users because they look messy and are irrelevant in the content of an email. Uncovering these headers is different for each email provider. In the following section I will cover how to un-hide these headers for the most popular email providers and programs.

Getting Email Headers in Gmail

Open the email to be traced. Besides the reply button you are going to see a small arrowhead pointing down, click on it; then click on “Show original” (see image).


Getting Email headers in Hotmail

Open the email to be traced. Besides the reply button you are going to see a small arrowhead pointing down, click on it; then click on “View message source” (see image).

Getting Email Headers in Yahoo

Open the email to be traced. On the new email’s top menu click on the Actions button ; then click on “View Full Header” (see image).


Getting Email Headers in AOL

Open the email to be traced. On the new email’s top menu click on the Actions button; then click on “View Message Source” (see image).

Getting Email Headers in Outlook

Open the email to be traced. Besides the reply button, you are going to see a small arrowhead pointing down, click on it; a new window will appear and at the bottom of it, you will see a section named “Internet Headers”  (see image).


Identifying IP To Be Traced From the headers

Once you open the headers, look for something titled “Received:” or “X-originating-IP:” with an IP address besides it. Take a look at the image below, those are the headers from actual email spam. I have covered part of the IP in case they have cleaned up their act.

Tracing IP Address

To trace the email’s IP address, copy the IP obtained from the email headers. There are many free IP tracing services on the web; the following are some of them:

http://visualroute.visualware.com/  (use their live demo)

http://www.geobytes.com/iplocator.htm

http://www.ip-adress.com/ip_tracer/

The following is a picture of VisulRoute. It shows that the IP in question is coming from Bangalore, India.

Final Thoughts

Tracing an email address location can be very easy with the right tools.  A word of caution:  Finding an email’s source does not automatically mean the originating IP’s owner is guilty of actually sending that email. Spammers use other peoples’ IPs to prevent from being detected. They can do this in a variety of ways, such as spoofing, hacking the sender’s computer, etc.

5 comments:

  1. Pablo Garcia, 4. May 2011, 21:42

    You are probably not using the right IP. You need to look for the one that says “originating IP”, or something similar.

     
  2. Franklin Wright, 4. May 2011, 17:26

    I have been having trouble with yahoo for some time. I used to be able to trace a email back to its originating PC using the tools you have posted . Now it comes back to a Yahoo server.. I can’t get all the way to where the user is or there computers IP like I used to.

     
  3. Pablo Garcia, 12. February 2011, 21:11

    Images have been fixed now, you should be able to see them fine in the RSS

     
  4. Pablo Garcia, 11. February 2011, 9:54

    If you are talking about the emails being sent by the RSS feed, we are working on getting that resolved. They should look fine on the website itself. If you are comming from the RSS feed, what you are seeing are chashed images, just do a refresh on your browser and they should appear.

     
  5. Turk, 11. February 2011, 9:46

    Images are pretty useless..
    Can only see copyrighted place holder.

     

Write a comment:


You will receive an email when your comment is answered

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.

.