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How to: Track Whether Email was Delivered (Message Trace O365, Old & NEW Interface)

Need to track an email that seems like it was lost in Never-land? Look no further. Luckily, Office 365 offers an option to run a message trace. This is as close to IT magic we can get to when it comes to seeing where things disappeared- and it is definitely very useful in determining if the issue lies within your side- or an external sender. Below is a sample scenario of when the message trace could be used perfectly:

A user claims they sent an email- before they send a follow up to the client, want to confirm if the original was delivered from our end. Below are steps on how this will work, with the old interface (bear in mind both the old and new interface are currently active for the foreseeable future, so it is up to user preference. New interface can be found Here)

Start by navigating to www.office.com. Here, you will be given an option to enter your email address and sign in. Depending on how your SSO settings are configured- you may then be asked for a network password, or automatically land at the settings splash page.

Upon logging in, you will be brought to the home page. This will have tiles related to all the applications/services you have access to (Mail, SharePoint, Admin,etc). The one we are interested in is the Admin page-where we can manage users and Exchange settings

Once on the admin page, you will notice a column on the left side with many options. In our interest, for the old layout, go ahead and select Admin Centers on the bottom. From there, navigate to ‘Exchange’ as shown below:

Security & Compliance is related to the new layout, which can be found in the link above, or again, Here. Once on the Exchange menu- you will see a variety of options all with features that can be utilized and will be covered in a series of Exchange/O365 How-To here.


From here- go to the column titled ‘mail flow’. Here, you can control many things such as what external domains are blocked/allowed, certain rules such as message size limits, etc. For our purpose, message trace is where we will be navigating to


Here, you are presented with a menu of configurable options that can help make the such as narrow or as broad as you’d like.

  • Date Range: Comes in 24 hours, 48 hours, Past 7 days, or Custom. When custom is selected-time zone, start/end date and time all become available. Ranges longer than 10 days usually don’t return instant results, rather an email with a detailed summary. 
  • Delivery Status:
    • All: Includes all of the options below
    • Delivered: Message had been successfully delivered from your tenant to the recipient, whether internal or external.
    • Failed: Message was not successfully delivered
    • Pending: Message is currently in the process of being sent (attempting, will reattempt a few times if not successful on first try before failing)
    • Expanded: Sent to distribution list, opened to see all recepients
    • Unknown: Status Unknown. I usually take this as not delivered.

Once you are ready, select ‘add sender…’ to select from either your directory or add an email address (usually external) manually. Click Add Sender…(this interface is the same for Add Recipient, so we will look at both processes at once). If the sender is in your address book, enter them on the bar up top and press search. This will return any matching items from the directory. Select one, and select ‘Add’ on the bottom and press OK. This will add the sender/recipient.

However, if you are adding an external address, follow below:

  • Write the name of the external address in the ‘Check Names’ line. From here, click the ‘Check Names’ box and this will get it added to the top line.


From here, select ‘add ->’ and this will move it to the top bar. Select OK and it will have it added just like an internal/known address.

It will open a window, where it will show the Date, Sender, Recipient, Subject, and Status of the message (different statuses shown above). If you select the message, it will show some more information, such as message size, attachments, etc.


This is the old interface (which is still active). Now we will explore the new interface, which offers a more powerful engine to perform these searches, is more intuitive, and more options to categorize the messages you are searching for. To navigate to this, in the Admin column, select ‘Security & Compliance’ instead of ‘Exchange’.


You will navigate to this page, which offers a brief overview of the new security and compliance features they offer. For our needs, we will once again navigate to the message trace option.


On the left column, we will select Mail Flow. This will bring down a drop down menu, and ‘Message Trace’ will be one of the options.




The new message interface will open up from the right. Right off the bat, you will note it is much easier to navigate.


See more options offered below:


Again, they offer the ability to narrow results by delivery status. In my experience, selecting all is best, as that displays all results and allows you to narrow down the desired result yourself. You also have the option to choose different types of reports – some with more information about the messages being sent.

Once ran, you will reach a page as the one shown below showing the results:


And that’s it! That’s all you need to know to be able to run Message Traces successfully in O365.

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