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tip – don't autoload images in email

To prevent tracking, only load images in emails you trust

how email tracking works

It's easy to think of an email like a letter. When someone sends you a message, it is delivered to your mailbox and once it is there, the sender can't take it back or know when you open it.

In reality, people can easily track when you open their email just by embedding linked images within the text. These images are included in HTML like on a website, so each time you open the message, you are actually requesting them from a remote server.

This was originally a useful way to send smaller messages with more images, since these images don't need to be included as attachments. Fast forward to today, and this technology is used all the time to track when an email is read. You often can't even see the images that are included, which can be transparent and as small as 1 pixel (called web beacons or pixel trackers).

This wouldn't necessarily be a big deal if it only happened in email newsletters from your favorite retail shop, but they also are included by spammers and phishers.

stop loading images automatically

Getting rid of this type of tracking is simple, just tell your email client you don't want it to automatically load remote images when you open a message.

Then, if you want to see the images from emails/newsletters that you trust, you just tell your email client to "load remote content". This is usually done with a button at the top of the email and takes one extra tap.

This also protects you if you accidentally open a SPAM message. Otherwise, simply opening the email can give spammers a notification that your email address is real and active.

how to disable images in Mac Mail

Each email client is different, but most will have a setting similar to this.

For Mac Mail, go to Mail > Preferences > Viewing and uncheck "Load remote content in messages".

disable images mac


Then, you can click "Load remote content" on any email you trust where you want to see the images.

load images mac



published apr 26, 2019

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