How to Find Out if Your Email Provider Leaks Your IP Address to Recipients

Here’s a brief-yet-handy guide for those who are interested in seeing exactly what information is shared with their email recipients …

Sending an email to someone can reveal more information about you than you may want to reveal. Whenever you send an email to someone, so-called header information are send along. These header information, much like the headers that are added to connections in your web browser, may reveal information about the PC and connection to the recipient. Among the information can be the IP address of the computer the email was composed on. The IP address can be traced back to the account owner of the Internet connection at the date and time it was used to send the email address.

In addition to that, tools can be used to look-up the IP address in the world so that you know about the country and general location of it as well.

Depending on which email provider you use, the IP address may be included with each message you send, or only messages that you send via third party or first party services.

If you are using Gmail, you may notice that the IP address is not included if you use the web service, but that it is included if you use a third party program like Thunderbird or Microsoft Outlook.

As far as the two other major email services are concerned: IP addresses are hidden when you use Outlook.com, while Yahoo Mail displays the sender’s IP address in the message header.

Find out if your email provider spills your IP address

The easiest way to check if your IP address is added to emails is to send an email to yourself and analyze its header afterwards.

How to display email headers

Depending on which program or service you use, that may be easier said than done:

Gmail (Google Mail)

  1. Log in to your Gmail account on the official website.
  2. Open a message that you want to analyze.
  3. Right-click on the down arrow that is displayed next to the reply button in the “from” and “date and time” header.
  4. Select “Show Original” to display the email including all of its email headers.

Outlook.com

  1. Sign-in to your Outlook.com account.
  2. Select a message that you want to investigate.
  3. Locate the “Actions” down arrow icon in the name row.
  4. Click on it and select “View message source”.

Yahoo Mail

  1. Sign-in to your Yahoo Mail account.
  2. Locate the message that you want to look at and click on it.
  3. Select “More” and click on “View Full Header”.

Mozilla Thunderbird

  1. Click on the email in the mail client.
  2. The header is displayed on top of the email content.

What to look for

email-IP-address

Now that it is clear how to display email headers, you need to know what you should look for, as they may contain a lot of information that are not relevant for this.

You need to locate the “Received” header which should display the IP address of the sender, or the service it was send from.

How do you know it is yours? Use our sweet IP lookup script to display your current IP address and compare it to the one you found in the email header.

Alternative

ip-address-leak

Email IP Leak is a third party service that you can use as well. The service “asks” you to send an email to an address that it randomly generates for you.

Once you have done so, wait a short while and watch the page you are on. If the email provider leaks your IP address, you are informed about that by the service.

If not, nothing happens. If the screen has not changed after a couple of minutes, you can be sure that nothing was leaked, provided that the email arrived safely.

Closing Words

If your email provider is adding your IP address to emails, you may want to consider using a virtual private network service when you send important emails to hide your computer’s IP address from the recipient.

Or, if you are using Gmail, you may want to compose those emails on the web interface and not third party clients.

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