How to Find Out Where an Email Came From

By Heather Topham Wood

Updated September 15, 2017

Sometimes you will receive an email in your inbox and feel at a loss about the origin of the email. You can use several free online programs to trace an email and discover more information about where it came from. This will help you narrow down who may have sent the email as well as provide reporting data in the case that the email was an attempted phishing scam.

Try out the email trace program offered through IPLigence (see link in Resources). This free program is simple to use and provides you with the necessary email origin data within minutes.

Enter the source headers of the email you want to trace. The source headers can be viewed by changing your email’s settings to show the original copy. For example, in Gmail, you click on “Show Original” at the bottom of the email’s address bar. A new window will appear displaying the source code. Highlight all the text in this box.

Paste the source headers into the search box on IPLigence. You will then press "Submit" to have the website return the origin data to you.

Review the results of the email origin trace. The email trace engine will then return the IP address that the email was sent from, city, country, continent and time zone.

Find out where an email came from by the person’s email address. Certain web programs don’t require source headers to track an email. On, you can use its free or paid versions of an email trace program. Type the email address and find the sender’s location once you submit the data. With a paid subscription, you can view the name and other details about the email account.


IPLigence has a help section that explains how to look up source headers on several popular email programs.