Tip 222: Viewing Message Source

If you are like most folks, you get a couple phishing scams every week. While most people just delete them, a few like to report them to the company they are trying to impersonate. Microsoft has a page dedicated to helping individuals determine phishing scams, and how to report them. The problem is that most of the phishing emails contain images, which Outlook will, rightfully, not download (so that the person that sent the email doesn't get a ping that you actually read the email). If you try to forward the message, Outlook requires you to download the images (thus alerting the phishing party that you read the email).

So in the Microsoft guide, they tell you to create a new email, include the suspected email as an attachment, and manually copy the headers over to the new message. But, to report a phishing email to EBay or PayPal they want you to forward the email to them, not send it as an attachment, which is the exact opposite of the MS guide. If you try to follow Microsoft's suggested method, and report the email to EBay or PayPal, you will get a response asking you to forward the original email, not include it as an attachment. Do you see where I'm going? You can't use Outlook to forward the email without downloading the images, and EBay and PayPal will not accept it any other way.

My solution at the moment is to log onto my email via webmail and forward it, but there has to be a better way.

Yes, there is a better way. Right click on the message body in the preview pane (or opened message) and choose View message source, Ctrl+A to Select All, then Ctrl+C to copy the text, then paste it into the body of new message. Next, use View, Options to get the header and paste it at the top of the message.

If you use Outlook 2003, switch to plain text (it's easy to toggle back to html on a per message basis) and forwards will be plain text too. This setting is in Tools, Options, Preferences, Email Options. Toggle HTML rendering on for individual HTML messages by clicking on the InfoBar.

Other options include using Pocketknife Peek to view the source and the header easier or view the source with the header (Outlook 2003 and up only): View the Message Source in Outlook.

Published January 27, 2005. Last reviewed on May 8, 2013.

  • lucie

    This is what i was looking for!!!!! thank you so much