Email Message Header & Message Checking Tools (2022 Update)


(Here's an updated version of a post from way back in 2018, with additional resources! I hope you find it handy.)

Need a tool to parse message headers? Trying to break down how long it took to hand off an email message between servers? Want to check for blocklistings, content scoring or link issues? Here's a few different tools that do a few different things.

First, let's check message headers using this tool from Google, or this (I think unofficial) version for Microsoft headers. Both do basically the same thing -- you paste in the email headers and it will parse them, giving you a breakdown of how much time it took between each server hop. Very handy for troubleshooting delivery delays. Did a Gmail server hold on to your message for four hours before passing it on? Or did it never leave your ESP's mail server? That's what tools like these can tell you.

Here's another Google tool you should bookmark. I think of it as the blob decoder. I personally use it to decode email content when it's encoded in Quoted Printable or Base 64. There are unix utilities that will let you do this from the command line, but here's a good cut-and-paste option for those who don't want to go the nerd route. Very, very handy.

Litmus has this cool Gmail tab tester. It's been around for a few years now, and various other deliverability tools can tell you Gmail tab disposition information, but it's nice to see this as a standalone test for the casual user. Just send to their special address and they'll tell you where the message goes.

Want to check your email against SpamAssassin and blocklists? Check out the new KBXSCORE tester that I built myself (disclaimer: I work for Kickbox). It'll let you check for IP and domain blocklist issues, check your SpamAssassin score, and also check links to make sure they're not broken and that they use HTTPS. There's also a BIMI logo checker, standalone blocklist checker, and standalone simple SpamAssassin checker. I'm going to be adding more tools to it over time, so keep an eye out. (And we've got even more tools available.)

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