-Email headers: In an e-mail, the text (body) is preceded by header lines indicating sender, recipient, subject, sending time stamp, receiving time stamps of all intermediate and the final mail transfer agents, and much more. (See RFC 5322 for details.)
Email headers are the life blood when tracking an email. You cannot locate the sender of a message, if they never send you a message. I see a lot of people asking to find someone based on just an address. The email provider would have logs (usually less that 10 days) of the last connections made.
Obtaining headers from a given message differs based on your method of accessing the message (email client or web interface):
-IP address: Every networked computer has one. Everyone that is connected to the internet has an external IP address. Most external IP addresses can be tracked back to the ISP they are owned by and sometimes to a geographical location.
NOTE: Gmail and Facebook do not include the IP address of the end user sending the message within the headers of emails it sends out.
Gmail Legal disclosure policy:
Report abusive emails:
To gain any data from Google on a sender, you would need to subpoena Google for this information.
With an ISP and an IP address, how close are you to finding the actual sender? Very close. But for obvious protection, an ISP cannot just hand out details on their clients. Once again a subpoena would be used to obtain customer information.
I use the script on this whatismyipaddress.com (http://whatismyipaddress.com/trace-email) and recommend it to others. Before finding that one, I had written one for myself that tries to go above and beyond in the way of usability. It does it’s best to even show you the originating location within a map:
On a side note, you can to some extent use http://www.readnotify.com/ when sending an email to someone and possibly obtain further details, from their site:
ReadNotify will endeavour to provide the following in your tracking reports:
* Complete delivery details
* Date and time opened
* Approximate geographic location of recipient
* Map of location (available on paid subscriptions)
* Recipients IP address
* Referrer details (ie; if accessed via web email account etc)
* URL clicks
* How long the email was read for
* How many times your email was opened
* If your email was opened on a different computer (such as forwarded)