You know what they say about curiosity, right? It killed the cat. Maybe that’s why cats have nine lives. It puts a limit on their curiosity. Curiosity is what got me to try MailSpy, a Mac utility which attempts to track down the geographic origins of an email message.
Most email messages you receive on your Mac have a header with far more information that Mail displays on the screen. MailSpy works by taking that header information, including IP addresses, and attempts to track down the location of the sender.
Yes, using IP addresses and matching them to geographic locations is not an exact science, made more inaccurate by email spammers who want to trick readers and obfuscate their origin.
MailSpy works about as easily as an app can work. Drag and drop. Grab an email message and drag it onto MailSpy.
MailSpy grabs information from the dragged and dropped message and does a search to try to determine where the message came from– when it can.
Does it work? Yes. And, no. And, it depends.
During my tests MailSpy worked well on legitimate email messages. Or, it seemed to. It also displays a list of stops the messages made along the way to your Mac, and can sometimes display what type of email app the sender used to create and send the message.
As noted, this kind of search isn’t an exact science, and doesn’t work well with webmail services. Also, IP address locations do not always correspond with where a particular email server is located.
Still, it’s interesting to know and might just massage your curiosity itch about where email comes from before it gets to you.