How to add an external email warning

In this article you can learn how to add an external email warning message in Zimbra when receiving an email from an external domain. Tested on Zimbra 9 patch 19. The solution is by way of a Sieve filter, it can be enabled per account,cos,domain,server.

Create /tmp/myfilters

  su - zimbra
  nano /tmp/myfilters

With the following contents:

require ["fileinto", "reject", "tag", "flag", "editheader", "variables"];

# add an external domain header to all email not coming from our own domains
if allof(
  not address :domain :is ["from"] ["example.com"]
  addheader "X-External-Domain" "This Message originated outside of mind.";
  # Match the entire subject ...
  if header :matches "Subject" "*" {
     # ... to get it in a match group that can then be stored in a variable:
     set "subject" "${1}";

  # We can't "replace" a header, but we can delete (all instances of) it and
  # re-add (a single instance of) it:
  deleteheader "Subject";
  # Append/prepend as you see fit
  addheader :last "Subject" "[External Email] ${subject}";
  # Note that the header is added ":last" (so it won't appear before possible
  # "Received" headers).


Replace example.com with your Zimbra domain name, you can also add additional trusted domains where you do not want the external email warning to be displayed.

Enable it on a test account using

 zmprov mc default zimbraSieveEditHeaderEnabled TRUE
cat /tmp/myfilters |xargs -0 zmprov ma test@example.com zimbraAdminSieveScriptBefore


  1. Modifying the message like this will break DKIM in case the user wants to re-validate DKIM manually after it was verified and the subject was changed, but not many people do this.
  2. This is in itself not a protection against spoofing, you will have to reject email with a FROM domain that comes from untrusted locations, but that should have been done anyway.
  3. In a multi-tenant environment, it would be best to configure this on the domain. Even if domains are on the same environment, they may be external to one another!
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