These invisible images allow companies to spy on your email – here’s how to stop them


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dated: 2022-11-20 09:53:20 .

They are spying on your email. Of the countless emails that arrive in our inboxes every day, most of them have hidden trackers that can tell the recipient when you opened them, where you opened them, how many times you read them and more – for many a privacy nightmare the call”endemic.” Fortunately, there are ways you can protect yourself and your inbox.

Advertisers and marketing companies in particular add web beacons to their promotional emails to track their bulk campaigns. Based on how people interact with them, senders can learn which subject lines are the most “clickable” and which of their targets might be potential customers.

Although this is useful from an analytical point of view, it is often done in secret and without consent. Not a fan of this invasion of privacy? There is an easy way Disable email tracking. To get a better look at what those pesky little pixels are and how to get rid of them, read on.

What are email tracking pixels?

The email tracking pixel is a surprisingly simple concept that allows anyone to secretly collect tons of information about you after you interact with their messages.

When someone wants to track whether you’ve read their email, they embed a tiny 1 x 1 pixel image in it. As soon as you open the email, it pings the server where the image is stored and records the interaction. Not only does the sender track whether you clicked on their email and how many times it was clicked, they can also determine your location by checking where the network ping started and what type of device was used.

(Image: Shutterstock)

There are two reasons why you never actually see this tracking chart. First, it’s small. Second, it is in GIF or PNG format, which allows the company to be transparent and invisible to the naked eye. The sender often hides this in his signature. As such, that fancy font or flashy company logo you find at the bottom of a commercial email can be more than an innocuous, cosmetic presence.

More important, studies discovered that it is possible for advertisers and other malicious actors to link your email activity with your browser’s cookies by matching your location and device specifications. This opens up an alarming can of worms, as they can identify you everywhere you go online, link your email address to your browsing history, and more.

“Results Disprove Claim of ‘Anonymous’ Web Tracking”, the study warned.

Find out which emails are spying on you

If email tracking pixels are invisible, how do you spot them? Most email clients like Gmail and Outlook don’t have a built-in mechanism for this, but you can turn to third-party tools.

(Image: Laptop Mag)

For Gmail, we recommend an extension for Chrome and Firefox called ugly email. It adds a small “eyeball” icon next to emails loaded with tracking pixels, then blocks them from spying on you. Alternatively, if you are a Yahoo or Outlook user, you can try dryerwho also tag emails with trackers on their websites.

However, these extensions are limited to your computers. To detect email tracking on your phone, you need to subscribe to a premium email client such as hey.

How to block email tracking pixels

Optimize your existing inbox

Because email trackers rely on hidden media attachments, they are fairly easy to block. The easiest way is to simply prevent your email apps from loading images by default and do it manually only for emails you trust or when there is an attachment you want to download.

(Image: Laptop Mag)

In Gmail, the option to block external images is available at Settings > Images > Ask before showing external images on the web and in mobile applications. In Outlook applications, you can find it at Options > Block external images on a mobile phone and Options > Trust Center > Automatic download on the table.

However, you can also achieve this using Apple Mail Settings > Display > Load remote content in messages, you can directly block trackers on it as long as you’re on macOS Monterey. go there Mail > Settings > Privacy and check “Protect email activity” Box.

Get a private email address to upload

The problem with the methods we’ve discussed so far is that they block tracking pixels after the email has already arrived in your inbox – they don’t remove them from the email. In order to never accidentally open an email containing trackers, you need a proxy address that will scan your messages and remove any contraband before it reaches your inbox. Another advantage is that you can keep your personal email address private and share only one Relay ID with websites, newsletters and others.

(Image: Laptop Mag)

There are many free services that offer a proxy email address. We recommend Email protection from DuckDuckGo. It allows you to create a new custom relay address that will protect your email before it is forwarded to your personal inbox by running a tracker and encrypting any unprotected links in the text.

At the top of the forwarded email, DuckDuckGo also adds a small section that tells you if it found trackers in them and, if so, which companies are responsible.

Go to on your Android phone or iPhone Settings > Email Security in the DuckDuckGo app to login. On desktop, you can start with the DuckDuckGo browser extension or its browser for Mac.


These invisible images allow companies to spy on your email – here’s how to stop them

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