Thank you for purchasing through links and ads on this site.
diglloyd Deal Finder...
Buy other stuff at
Durable and fast, up to 1800MB/s

Apple Mail Security: Viewing Mail Headers

Last updated 2016-07-23 - Send Feedback
Related: security, How To, System Setup

Spammers generally use skanky mail servers to send spam and/or programs like Microsoft Outlook, which a corporate email service would not use to send messages.

By using custom message headers, sometimes red flags pop out like mushrooms. But most email programs hide nearly all the headers, thus making these red flags invisible.

MPG also strongly recommends disabling loading of remote content.

Various options to detect bogus /spam email exist:

  • Helper apps like Mail Spy.
  • Viewing additional messagen headers for all messages as in Configuring Apple Mail message headers below.
  • Showing all message headers or specific message headers for all messages, or on a case-by-case basis (notes that follow next, below).

Viewing all message headers

Full mail headers can be viewed by showing or hiding message headers or by viewing the message source code:

Apple Mail: view message headers or message source code

Viewing message headers for a particular message

Add the All Headers item in the toolbar to allow clicking headers on/off for a mail message on a case-by-case basis:

Apple Mail: Customize Toolbar
Apple Mail: customizing which items are in the mail window toolbar

Viewing specific message headers for every message

First, which custom headers to add? Too many headers and the clutter becomes a problem. It’s worth looking at the source code of an email to get an idea, particularly the nastier ones. Spam varies and it may be worth tailoring the message headers to your own crop of incoming spam.

To configure which message headers are shown, first open Apple Mail preferences. Choose Show Message Headers: Custom... in order to add/remove headers. At the least, add Return-Path and X-Mailer as shown:

Apple Mail: Configuring custom messages headers

Email examples

Below, a legitimate email with all the headers showing. Problematic emails typically show 2 or 3 or even more clues that the email is a spammer / phisher.

Legitimte email message

Below, a dangerous phishing email with all the headers showing. Problematic emails typically show 2 or 3 or even more clues that the email is a spammer / phisher. In this case, it should be obvious that would not be sending email from Note also the capitalization errors and non-professional terminology in the footer.

Phishing email pretending to be

Deals Updated Daily at B&H Photo
View BEST Deals Right Now
B&H Deal ZoneDeals by Brand/Category/Savings
Deals expire in 14 hours unless noted. Certain deals may last longer.
$1199 SAVE $500 = 29.0% $19 FREE ITEMS Canon 18x50 IS Image Stabilized Binocular in All Other Categories
$1049 SAVE $450 = 30.0% $20 FREE ITEMS Canon EOS 77D DSLR with 18-135mm USM in Cameras: DSLR
$1697 SAVE $300 = 15.0% Nikon D750 DSLR in Cameras: DSLR
$2797 SAVE $200 = 6.0% Nikon D810 DSLR in Cameras: DSLR
$898 SAVE $100 = 10.0% Sony DSC-RX100 V in Cameras: Point and Shoot
$300 SAVE $160 = 34.0% $9 FREE ITEMS Steiner 8x32 XC Binocular in All Other Categories
$1099 SAVE $200 = 15.0% ZEISS 25mm f/2 Batis in Lenses: Mirrorless
$1299 SAVE $200 = 13.0% ZEISS 21mm f/2.8 Loxia in Lenses: Mirrorless
$1999 SAVE $300 = 13.0% ZEISS 18mm f/2.8 Milvus ZF.2 in Lenses: DSLR | Terms of Use | PRIVACY POLICY
Contact | About Lloyd Chambers | Consulting | Photo Tours
Mailing Lists | RSS Feeds | Twitter
Copyright © 2008-2017 diglloyd Inc, all rights reserved.
Display info: __RETINA_INFO_STATUS__