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February 11, 2009

Show Your Location in Gmail Messages

Try this simple exercise: send an email from an Yahoo Mail account to a Gmail account (you can also use almost any other mail client or service). When you receive the message, click on the small arrow from the top of the message and select "Show original". Check the Received header and you'll find your IP address, which could be used to find your location.

Now send a message from your Gmail account to a Yahoo Mail account and select "Full Header" in Yahoo Mail. If you look at the Received header, you'll notice the IP address of Google mail server, like

The conclusion is that Gmail doesn't send your IP address and here's why: "Personal information, including someone's exact location, can be gathered from someone's IP address, so Gmail doesn't reveal this information in outgoing mail headers. This prevents recipients from being able to track our users, or uncover what may be potentially sensitive personal information. Don't worry -- we aren't enabling spammers to abuse the system by not revealing IP addresses. Gmail uses many innovative spam filtering mechanisms to ensure that spammers have a difficult time sending bulk emails that arrive in users inboxes."

If you do want to show your location when you send a message, try the newest experimental feature from Gmail Labs: "Location in Signature", which adds your locations to your signature. After enabling the feature, go back to the Settings page and select "Append your location to the signature". Gmail will use the IP address to approximate your location, but you can get better results by installing Gears. "The Gears Geolocation API can make use of network servers to obtain a position fix. The server determines the client's position using a set of data provided by the client. This data includes the client's IP address and information about any cell towers or WiFi nodes it can detect," informs a document about Gears APIs.

Google has at least two other services where you can show your location: Blogger, which lets you geotag posts, and Latitude, that shows the locations of your friends.

{ via Gmail Blog and Paul Buchheit }


  1. To be honest with you, I'm tired of all of these stupid features they're adding to GMail. When it all comes down to it, it's just an email service. But they're bloating it up with all of this useless crap.

    Why isn't Google spending time on important things, like viewing the size of individual emails and accumulated size of conversations, or manual sorting of labels into various categories for organization. Or even a feature to include images in emails.

    There's so many other (more important) things that google could be working on ... but yet they invest all of their time into stupid labs.

  2. @void.pointer
    "Google" isn't really building these features in Gmail, the labs things are mostly peoples 20% projects. So the point your eluding to that Google is wasting time on these is really null as it's usually just a few programers spending their own time doing it.

  3. Gmail Labs is the place where Google engineers add features that might become standard Gmail features if users like them. It's a place to test ideas, get feedback and release unfinished features early to see if they have potential.

    Gmail doesn't become more bloated because you can enable/disable each Labs feature individually. Most of the features are developed in the 20% time of a Google engineer, so they don't "invest all of their time into stupid labs". Gmail tasks, offline Gmail, superstars, canned responses, SMS, gadgets are useful features that will certainly graduate from Labs.

  4. Cool! Can a googler make a Blackberry version of gears so I can use this on my BB8800? Granted programming on this thing is painful so I can understand why you wouldn't want to.

  5. Nice feature. I enabled it. I use Windows Live Mail to send and receive emails but have enabled some Gmail Labs features that I think are fun and/or useful. This location feature is fun (not sure if it's useful though) so I enabled it.

  6. Now if we could only find an engineer who wants to spend his 20% time developing features like viewing the size of individual emails and accumulated size of conversations, or manual sorting of labels into various categories for organization... :-)

  7. Does it work in messages send from an IMAP client?

  8. No, of course not. Most Labs features only work in Gmail's web interface.

  9. I have enabled this feature in Labs but I can't see anything new in my signature. Does it work outside USA? My Google language is English US.

  10. My IP address is hidden in the web client but not in Thunderbird (using IMAP). I'm emailing from the UK.

  11. Hi,

    I posted this earlier today but the spam comment monster ate it :-)

    Remark: Gmail does send along the originating ip if you use IMAP, either on the iPhone or via thunderbird.

    It does even send along the originating ip of the machine on the original network behind on top of the ip address of the internet gateway.


    Received: from ? ([]) (I was using a mobile network in the Netherlands, see )

    Received: from ? ( []) (I was using my cable access provider in the Netherlands on internal network - btw I obfuscated the IP and access provider name)

    In these cases, I think the headers are probably added by the IMAP client, but the Gmail smtp server should strip them out if they are serious about privacy...

  12. Wow, it located me in Melbourne, Vic Australia. Nearly felt the pin-prick of the pointer landing specifically on me as it did it, oh wait that was a big blob over half of the state generally getting my area. Since I don't move from Melbourne, how would this be useful?

  13. Why can't the developers spend their 20% doing something useful, instead of something like "Super duper crayon extension that lets you draw pictures all over your gmail interface! woopdeedoo!"

    GMail has been around for many years already and they are missing these fundamental features. It's really just annoying, and for every pointless lab they make I feel like they aren't really contributing where it counts. If I were an engineer at google, I would obviously be implementing these (obvious) features instead of pointless junk.

  14. it seems we have another wannabe googler in ;)

  15. ok, i'm not sure i understand what goes on behind the scenes, but does this not work in google's own browser - chrome?

  16. in the infamous words of emily litella, "nevermind!!!". it just showed up.

  17. I tried this exercise but, to be honest, yahoo didn't send mi IP but Yahoo ip:

    Received: from ( [])

    if you lookup the name server about you will get:

    Translated Name:

  18. void.pointer, Gmail is growing like crazy and being adopted and loved at an incredible rate. So, even if they are missing "fundamental features", seems like they must been doing things right, don't you think so?

  19. @popein

    Oh they've done SO much right, but that doesn't mean they're perfect. I'm not complaining because I'm unappreciative, I'm actually very appreciative. I'm complaining because that's how software evolves. Software most usually obtains new features when a large portion of the community would find a usefulness in it.

    Sure, this isn't the right place to complain, but there's still a little frustration. I hate having obscure label names because I can't manually sort them or organize my labels in a collapsible/expandable tree-like form. My mailing-list labels look like ml:Foo, ml:Bar, and my regular labels all have a dot in front of them, like .Personal, .Work, and .Fun.

    So while GMail has done a lot right, they still have a lot more room for improvement. After all, they are still beta, and complaints/suggestions are a part of the development cycle.

  20. gmail is indeed becoming bloated...its almost going the way MS Office went with bloatware...

  21. Do you want to try feature rich xgenplus webmail. Amazing piece of work done by an Indian Comapny. We are using it and our organisation shifted from gmail to xgen. Very very happy.

  22. Hi,

    I can not work in exercise because i open my email in and the options '' show orginal'' doesn't work, how can i find out the header in another way?


  23. I understand that the Location feature has been retired from the Labs.. Any chance that it would be brought back.. It suddenly disappeared... would love to have it back..

  24. I know a couple of email addresses in gmail which has addresses like But these email ids receive mails addressed to I therefore receive someones bank statements or somes resume and all the crap that I m not supposed to receive.


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