[Chicago-talk] help with Return-Path

JT Smith jt at plainblack.com
Mon Jul 24 13:45:37 PDT 2006

There is a mail header called Return-Path. Here's the relevent RFC section on it:

      4.3.1.  RETURN-PATH

         This field  is  added  by  the  final  transport  system  that
         delivers  the message to its recipient.  The field is intended
         to contain definitive information about the address and  route
         back to the message's originator.

         Note:  The "Reply-To" field is added  by  the  originator  and
                serves  to  direct  replies,  whereas the "Return-Path"
                field is used to identify a path back to  the  origina-

         While the syntax  indicates  that  a  route  specification  is
         optional,  every attempt should be made to provide that infor-
         mation in this field.

The final transport that delivers the message to the receipient is supposed to attach 
this header to the mail message just before delivery. That's all well and good, but if 
you're writing a system that you want to deal with bounced messages, that causes a 
problem because the most likely Return-Path that a MTA will assign is the From address. 
In the case of a list serv, all bounces would be returned to the user that posted the 
message rather than to the list manager.

I'm using MIME::Tools to create the message, and Net::SMTP to send it.

I've tried manually setting a Return-Path but the MTA just sticks its own at the top of 
the message.

My question is, have any of you run into this problem before? Is there a universal way 
of forcing a Return-Path? Is there a more appropriate field to use?

JT ~ Plain Black
ph: 703-286-2525 ext. 810
fax: 312-264-5382

I reject your reality, and substitute my own. ~ Adam Savage

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