How To Modify The Send Date On An Email

Email is a method of exchanging messages over the Internet between individuals using electronic devices. While emails were originally formatted in plain text (ASCII), email has become more sophisticated over the years to include more elaborate formatting, including HTML and CSS.

Occasionally, you may have the need to change the date and the time a message was sent. You can manually adjust the date of any email to reflect when it was initially sent. It does require doing it “by hand,” and a mail client must be used for proper export/import.

The example we’ll use for this tutorial is something that’s common: forwarding your email from one address to another address, which changes the time from that of the original message. You may want to adjust the message to reflect the time the sender actually sent the original message.

Windows Live Mail, Microsoft Outlook, the old Outlook Express 6, and the latest version of Mozilla Thunderbird do allow drag-in/out copying of emails from the client to the desktop. For this example, we’ll be using Windows Live Mail.

Here is what the forwarded message looks like in the Windows Live Mail inbox:

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What I want to do here is change this so it reflects the original send date. To get this information, first, open the email in question:

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The original send date was September 28, 2010, at 5:55 pm. This information may not be displayed the same way in your mail client. However, it will be displayed in a similar way.

Next, drag the email outside of the mail client and on to the Desktop to make a copy of the email

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Then right-click and select Edit with Notepad++ or another text editor.

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Note: We highly recommend that you install the Notepad++ text editor as it will make this process much more comfortable to complete. Notepad++ it inserts a right-click context menu entry so you can edit files quickly and easily. Otherwise, you’ll have to launch Windows Notepad manually and manually enter the location of the EML file you want to edit on your Desktop.

In Notepad++, search for the line that starts with Date:

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You will find the date and time stamp of an email in this format: Abbreviated Weekday, Day of Month, Abbreviated Month, Year, 24-hour Time of receive, Time Zone.

From the time/date information I found in the email itself, it needs to be changed to September 28, 2010, @ 5:55 pm, Eastern Standard Time. This would be written as:

Tue, 28 Sep 2010 17:55:00 -0400

You can find the original weekday by using your Windows Calendar (double-click the clock, adjust the date to the time the sender originally sent the email to you).

You can also use alternative calendars like Google Calendar or Yahoo! Calendar if you prefer.

Next, remove  the “Fw:” portion of the subject line):

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The only other header needed for is Received, and if you see Received, modify the date and time for it as well:

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Important note:Received” may or may not be there within the email, but if it is, you’ll need to change it to match the “Date”, otherwise Windows Live Mail will read Received first and ignore Date completely.

Once modifications are complete, then save the file and exit the text editor.

Finally, simply drag the email file from the desktop back into your mail clients’ inbox.

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If you see the email with the date and time you intended then you have successfully completed the process of changing the data and times stamp of your email. Well done. It takes a little practice to get the hang of changing email dates and times quickly.

Final notes

Watch for other date header types

When modifying the date of an email manually as described above, you have to thoroughly scan through the entire message while editing it to make sure you have changed all the mail received dates and times.

Microsoft uses “Received“, but other clients may have different date and timestamp headers. Look for any mention of date in the email headers and you will see the appropriate timestamp header quickly.

What if the email has file attachments?

Since email headers can always be found at the very top of an email, attachments won’t affect your ability to change the date and timestamp of an email. However, this is even more of a reason to use Notepad++ because it can handle large text files easily.

As long as you don’t touch anything in the portion of the message where the attachment is (it will look like programming code), it should remain unaffected when you import the message back into the mail client. So just follow the normal process described above, paying extra attention so that you don’t mistakingly change anything related to the attachment.

Does manually editing email files corrupt them?

As long as you use a text editor that’s well suited for this job (again, Notepad++ to the rescue here), you won’t end up corrupting the email message itself. Notepad++ edits these email files without corrupting them.

Can I change things besides the receive date?

You can change anything in the email header that you want. The ones you will most likely want to change are “From”, “To”, “Date” (obviously) and “Subject.”

Bear in mind that like with “Date” and “Received”, you may also have to deal with additional headers depending on which mail client sent the message originally.

Is there any way to mass-change a batch of emails?

No. Unfortunately, you need to follow the above process for each email message for which you want to modify the date and time,

If the email account is Hotmail or Gmail via IMAP, will the new date be reflected immediately once I import the modified message into the mail client?

Yes. Both Hotmail and Gmail will read the modified date header appropriately, enabling you to follow this process for Hotmail, Gmail, and most other Inbox Provider services that enable you to read your mail with the IMAP protocol.

Can I use this method to modify emails sent by me in the past?

If you were placed in the situation where you forwarded all your sent emails to your new email address and want to change the email back to the original data and time without the forwarded information, you can do follow the process described in this article.

The “sent” folder is treated just like any other email folder location, so you can pull mail out of that folder and make the same modifications you can make to the email you have received. Use the same process as described above for emails in your sent folder.

Can I use this method to send “future” emails?

No. The import of emails is completely different from the mail client actually sending them. The mail client will always time and date stamp the email with the exact date and time the email’s sent. It’s not until the email’s forwarded that this time and date stamp will be changed.

Once I’m happy with the modified emails I import into my client, is it safe to delete the old ones?

Yes. The messages you import will be treated as separate, so it will not affect the modified messages you import. We do recommend that instead of deleting the old emails, you instead move them to a backup folder just in case something goes wrong in the process and you need to start over.

Recalling Emails

Both Outlook and Gmail servers give you the option to recall emails once they’re sent. If you’ve accidentally sent an email, or you’d like to save it as a draft and send it at a later date you can.

  • Gmail users will need to enable the setting from Gmail – Travel to the settings cog in the upper right-hand corner of the user interface and click it. From there you will see an ‘Undo Send’ option. Its default is a 5-second recall timeframe but you can change it to 30-seconds allowing you to recall your messages.
  • Outlook users can recall a message as long as it hasn’t been opened yet – Visit the sent items folder and double-click the message you’d like to retract. Click ‘Actions’ and ‘Recall This Message’ then proceed to delete unread copies of the email message.

Emails have come a long way since they first became popular. Knowing and understanding the full capabilities at your disposal reduces the risk of embarrassing mishaps when communicating with others.

12 thoughts on “How To Modify The Send Date On An Email”

Avatar Stephen Paparatto says:
This does not work for me at all? When I select edit with Notepad ++ the message can’t be read. All I see is a bunch of black rectangles with the word NUL in white on them?
Avatar bash says:
Hi Nik, I would like to hire you to do this. Please contact me asap
Avatar Basim Daoud says:
When I import an email to notepad++ and I make the adjustments, after I save it and move it back to my inbox in Microsoft Outlook , it puts it as an email attachment for me to email it. Also I cannot open it to read it, It says I do not have permission or that the file may be open in another program. Please help.
Avatar ggg says:
same issue, please help
Avatar sarmon says:
me too, same issue, canot open the attch
Avatar Mark Carmel says:
I forwarded an email with attachments to myself, and then accidentally deleted the original with attachments. How can I place the original email that I forwarded, dated in 2017, back into my inbox with the 2017 date?
Avatar Eric L. Hepperle says:
In 2018, drag-to-desktop from Gmail does not appear to work anymore.
Avatar Vimal says:
I have my own mail server and and i want all the emails that i send through my mail server should contain past date , what should i do

And if it is possible to do for the particular user or group of users

Avatar Paul says:
Can anyone tell me how to prove this has been done. I have a company trying to con me as I type this. I know they have done something similar because when I scroll through my inbox, which is in date order…it comes up in my May emails as a January date received……. compete rubbish. The company is trying to con me by saying they have sent an email. Please help me asap
Avatar visi0n says:
it works I tried it
Avatar Vincent Lai says:
How do we actually ‘drag’ it back into the inbox
Avatar huma satti says:
yeah plz tell me how to drag back into the inbox … it shows seprate msg but didnot drabback to inbox to show
Avatar Huma Iftikhar says:
how to drag back this email in inbox… plz tell it can not put back in inbox
Avatar visi0n says:
you have to convert the eml file back to msg format silly. then it will show on web or where ever you log in.
Avatar anon says:
How do you do this?!?! I’ve been trying to convert it back to .msg but Outlook wont recognize it when I try to drag it back in as a .msg file. Says its blocked
Avatar Francois-Milan Janousek says:
When I try to drag it back into the inbox, it simply attaches it to an email.
Avatar visi0n says:
you have to convert the eml file back to msg format silly. then it will show on web or where ever you log in.
Avatar Arm says:
Is this possible to do with an existing email but change the attachment?
Avatar Mansoor Habib says:
not helping as I am getting a lot of NUL in there and I can’t find DATE so easily at all.
Avatar gigi Kent says:
same for me (I get lots of NUL)
Avatar nchethan says:
Convert the email from .msg format to .eml using any free online converters. Then open the converted file in notepad++ to make any chanes that you want. Hope it helps.
Avatar Mansoor Habib says:
This is incredibly helpful. I will give it a try today. I also need to replace the attachment with a newer version. How do I do that?
Regards

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