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How to Block Email Tracking

Dec 21, 2017 · 2 min read

How to Block Email Tracking

Did you know that when you open an email, the sender can find out when and where you opened it? They do this by inserting a small piece of code in their promotional emails. This might not be a problem if you trust the company, but nowadays, almost anyone can use this feature. Read on to learn how to disable it and protect your privacy.

How email tracking works

The sender of the email embeds an invisible 1 x 1 pixel image, a so-called pixel tracker, into the message or an attached document. When you open it, the email server requests that tiny image from the server where it’s stored. That request reveals the opening time, the location, and the device, which is then passed on to the sender.

This technology is often used by marketers to better understand their email recipients. If you’re opening an email from a brand you trust, you may not mind leaking this information. However, just about anyone can track you by using free pixel tracking apps! Have you ever accidentally opened an email that you wanted to ignore? Well, you’ve already given your information away.

Fortunately, most email providers have a way to block pixel trackers. All you have to do is block your emails from automatically loading images.

How to turn off automatic image loading on desktop

Gmail

  1. Click on the gear icon in the upper right-hand corner and select Settings.
  2. Turn off automatic image loading on desktop

  3. Under the General tab, find the Images section. Tick the Ask before displaying external images bubble.
  4. Turn off automatic image loading on desktop

  5. Scroll down to the bottom and click Save Settings.

Apple Mail

  1. Click on the Mail tab and select Preferences.
  2. Turn off automatic image loading on Apple Mail

  3. Click on the Viewing tab. Check the Load remote content in messages checkbox so that it’s disabled.
  4. Turn off automatic image loading on Apple Mail

How to turn off automatic image loading on mobile

Gmail on Android

  1. Open the Gmail app and tap on the menu button in the upper left-hand corner.
  2. Scroll down and tap on Settings.
  3. Turn off automatic image loading on Gmail for Android

  4. Select the account you want to change your settings for.
  5. Turn off automatic image loading on Gmail for Android

  6. Scroll down and tap on Images.
  7. Turn off automatic image loading on Gmail for Android

  8. Tap on the Ask before displaying external images bubble.
  9. Turn off automatic image loading on Gmail for Android

Apple Mail on iPhone

  1. Open the Settings app and click on Mail.
  2. Turn off automatic image loading on Apple Mail for iPhone

  3. Find the Load Remote Images option and ensure that it's disabled.
  4. Turn off automatic image loading on Apple Mail for iPhone

Using browser extensions to block email trackers

There are many browser extensions you can use that will identify the emails that secretly use trackers, and will block them for you. However, be cautious when using them. They will require access to your inbox, meaning they may or may not be able to scan your emails. To limit online tracking you are better off using ad blockers and script blocker extensions.

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Daniel Markuson
Daniel Markuson successVerified author

Daniel is a digital privacy enthusiast and an internet security expert. As the blog editor at NordVPN, Daniel is generous with spreading news, stories, and tips through the power of a well-written word.


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