How to protect your privacy while preventing your emails from being tracked
Did you know that opening an email can send a huge amount of data back to the sender? It’s possible. When you first opened it, how many times you opened it, where you were when you first opened it, and so on. Emails can share detailed information about when a recipient views a message and their actions, similar to Apple iMessage and Facebook Messenger receipts. Follow this guide to keep your emails from being tracked if you want to keep them private.
Check out our article on how to create a disposable email address and stay safe online if you’re thinking about how to keep your online life safe.
What methods are used to track emails?
One of the most common ways to track an email is with pixels. A single-pixel-sized image is frequently attached to the email’s end. Your email service must retrieve the image from the sending server when your email client loads it; this server can then log when your email service loaded the image to determine when (and if) you opened the email. Additional information, such as your IP address, can inform the server of your location at the time you opened the email.
How do you get rid of the tracking?
The simplest way to stop tracking is to disable your email client’s automatic image download feature; this prevents the sending server from loading its tracking pixel. There are also browser extensions that will analyze your web-based emails and notify you if they contain a tracker.
If you want to stop your email client from downloading images from emails, you’ll need to take different steps depending on your email provider.
Step 1: Log in to your Gmail account.
Step 2: In the upper right corner, click the gear icon.
Step 3: Click on the General tab.
Step 4: Select Ask Before Displaying External Images from the Images category at the bottom of the page.
Step 5: Scroll to the bottom of the page and click Save Changes.
Gmail app (iOS/Android)
Step 1: Launch the Gmail app on your phone or tablet.
Step 2: In the upper corner, tap the hamburger menu (three horizontal lines).
Step 3: Select Settings from the drop-down menu.
Step 4: Select the account you want to change.
Step 5: Select Images from the drop-down menu.
Step 6: Choose the option to Ask Before Displaying External Images (Also Disables Dynamic Email) from the drop-down menu.
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Step 1: Log in to your AOL Mail account first.
Step 2: Go to the Options menu, then Mail Settings.
Step 3: Select General.
Step 4: Select Hide Images in Mail from Unknown Senders from the Reading category.
Step 1: Log in to your Yahoo Mail account.
Step 2: Select More Settings from the gear icon in the upper-right corner.
Step 3: Choose Viewing Email from the drop-down menu.
Step 4: Select Ask Before Showing External Images from the Show Images in Messages menu.
Step 1: Log in to your iCloud Mail account.
Step 2: In the lower-left corner, click the gear icon.
Step 3: Choose your preferences.
Step 4: In Messages, uncheck Remote Load Content.
Step 1: Open the Settings app.
Step 2: Select Mail from the drop-down menu.
Step 3: Toggle off Load Remote Images in the Messages section.
Step 1: Launch the Outlook program.
Step 2: Select File and then Options.
Step 3: Go to the Trust Center page.
Step 4: Select Trust Center Settings from the drop-down menu.
Step 5: Check the box next to Don’t Download Pictures Automatically in HTML Email Messages or RSS.
What extensions are available?
You can also get browser extensions that protect your privacy by notifying you when an email contains a tracker. PixelBlock for Google Chrome is our top recommendation; it blocks pixel trackers and alerts you when tracking attempts are made.
Tracker for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox is a second option that does the same thing. Both of these extensions offer excellent online security to protect against email tracking.