You may not know it, but many people who send you an email know the exactly when you open it and even where you are at the moment of opening it. Many marketing companies have been using small pieces of code in their promotional emails that can track both the location and the time when someone opens up the messages they send.
Here’s how it works: The sender of the email embeds an invisible 1 x 1 pixel image, a so-called pixel tracker, into the content of the message, or possibly inside an attached document. When that email is opened, the image pings the server it originates from with information like the time, location, and the device the recipient is using. This way, the sender knows how many people open their newsletter as well as where and when, so they can improve their content based on these parameters.
While this information can be useful to content marketers, it is still being done without the recipient’s consent, and often, awareness. However, you can block images that act as trackers by preventing the image from loading automatically in your inbox.
1. Click on the gear icon and select Settings.
2. Under the General tab, find Images.
3. Select “Ask before displaying external images.”
4. Scroll down to the bottom and click Save Settings.
1. Open the Gmail app.
2. Select your account.
3. Tap on Images.
4. Select “Ask before showing.”
Apple Mail (desktop)
1. In Mail go to Preferences.
2. Select the Viewing tab.
3. Make sure the “Load remote content in messages” option is unchecked.
Apple Mail (iPhone)
1. Open the Settings app.
2. Select Mail.
3. Switch off the “Load Remote Images” option.
A number of Chrome extensions, such as Ugly Mail, PixelBloc and Trackbuster, show you who is tracking your activities in your Gmail inbox. They are able to identify the pixel trackers and block them so you can open your emails without your information being passed on to the senders.