What is an SPF Record Lookup Tool?

SPF stands for Sender Policy Framework. An SPF Record Check verifies the legitimacy of an email sender. For this, it relies on the SPF record, a type of record published in a domain’s DNS (Domain Name System) and used to identify the authorized email servers for that domain.

Once you put the SPF record in Smartlead’s SPF Record Check Tool, the system will retrieve the SPF record published in the domain’s SPF. The tool also analyses the SPF record for errors or syntax mistakes that might prevent it from working correctly.

This tool will give you easy-to-understand feedback on whether the SPF record is configured correctly and if it effectively authorises email senders for the specific domain.

What is an SPF Record?

An SPF record (Sender Policy Framework record) is a type of record published in a domain's DNS (Domain Name System) that acts as a security shield against email spoofing. It defines authorized email senders for a particular domain.

Here's how it works:

1. A domain owner creates an SPF record within their domain's DNS. This record lists IP addresses or mail servers allowed to send emails on behalf of that domain.
2. The receiving email server acts like a security guard when an email arrives. It checks the SPF record of the sender's domain to see if the email originated from an authorized source.
3. The receiving server compares the email's sender IP address against the list in the SPF record. If the IP address matches an authorized one, the email is considered more likely legitimate and allowed to pass through. But if there's no match, it raises a red flag!

Properly configured SPF records can help prevent email spoofing, protect your reputation, and enhance email deliverability.

What does an SPF Record look like?




Time to live (TTL)





Below is an example of an SPF record that allows emails from Google Workspace servers.

Breakdown of Components:

v=: Identifies this as an SPF record.
spf1: Specifies the SPF version (1 is the current standard).


include: This mechanism tells the receiving server to consult another SPF record for authorization.
_spf.google.com: This is a subdomain commonly used by Google Workspace to specify their authorized sending servers.


ip4: This mechanism authorizes a specific IP address version (4 in this case). This is the actual IP address allowed to send emails for this domain.


~: This is a qualifier, indicating a "soft fail."
all: Refers to any sender not explicitly authorized in the record.

Together: This translates to "if the email doesn't come from Google Workspace servers, the specific IP, or any other explicitly allowed source, deliver it with a spam flag."

  • www is the subdomain and is an identifier of the record.

  • CNAME is the DNS record type.

  • com is the value of the record. That means www will resolve to the IP address of the domain abc.com.

  • 3600 is TTL (time to live) is the expiry time of the CNAME record. It's expressed in seconds. Here 3600 means that the records will be updated after each hour.

Frequently asked questions

General Questions

What is an SPF record, and why do I need it?

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

An SPF record (Sender Policy Framework record) is a record published in your domain's DNS that specifies authorized email senders for your domain. It acts like a security guard, preventing email spoofing, where scammers disguise their emails to appear from your domain. SPF helps protect your reputation, improve email deliverability, and avoid phishing attacks.

How does an SPF record lookup work?

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

An SPF record lookup is done using a free online tool like Smartlead’s SPF Record Tool. These tools retrieve the SPF record published in a domain's DNS and analyze it for errors. They provide feedback on whether the record is configured correctly and effectively authorizes email senders for that domain.

What are the benefits of using an SPF record lookup tool?

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead
  • Improved Email Security: Ensures your SPF record is valid, helping prevent email spoofing.

  • Troubleshooting: Helps identify problems with your SPF record if you have email delivery issues.

  • Peace of Mind: Provides confidence that your SPF record is functioning correctly.

Do I need to be a tech expert to manage SPF records?

Email automation FAQs- Smartlead

While understanding the basics is helpful, you don't necessarily need to be a tech expert. Many domain registrars and email service providers offer user-friendly interfaces or instructions to help you set up and manage SPF records. You can also use online resources and tutorials for guidance.