How To Block Tracking Images in Outlook

Everyone understands that their online actions are being tracked in almost every scenario. But not many realize that even opening emails from trusted sources can lead to real-time data collection.

How To Block Tracking Images in Outlook

Even if it’s not used with malicious intent, email tracking still infringes on people’s rights to privacy and can make them targets for numerous ad campaigns. Without the proper configuration, a robust email service like Outlook is vulnerable to tracking images or tracking pixels.

Here’s what you need to know about how they work and how to stop them from flooding your inbox with unwanted mail.

How Tracking Pixels Work

Tracking pixels are individual, transparent pixels that can be embedded into emails. Although unseen, they are automatically downloaded when users open an email.

Usually, tracking pixels help verify if the receiver opened the email and when they did it. However, the tracking pixels can also collect other identifying information about the user. This can be used to send malicious code, track someone’s location, or send targeted ads.

As annoying as they can be, tracking pixels can be stopped in various ways. Disabling automatically downloading third-party images or routing them through proxy servers are among the most reliable solutions.

If you’re using Outlook as your email service, there are some methods you should know, depending on what devices you prefer to use.

How To Block Tracking Pixels in Outlook on a PC

The issue of tracking pixels comes up when using external images in your emails. Fortunately, there are a couple of ways to get around this when using Outlook.

Disable Tracking in the Outlook Client

Here’s how to disable tracking if you’re using the Outlook client on a Windows PC or laptop.

  1. Go to “File.”
  2. Select “Options.”
  3. Navigate to the “Trust Center” tab.
  4. Access “Trust Center Settings.”
  5. Go to “Automatic Download.”
  6. Check the box next to the “Don’t download pictures options in standard HTML email messages or RSS items” option.
  7. Check the box next to the “Don’t download pictures in encrypted or signed HTML email messages” option.

This will block tracking services and protect your privacy by ensuring that Outlook verifies the validity of email addresses.

Disable Tracking in the Outlook Browser Version

If you’re using the browser version of Outlook, blocking tracking pixels works differently. Unlike the client service, the browser service won’t stop loading images.

Here’s a workaround you can use to protect your privacy.

  1. Log into your Outlook.live.com account.
  2. Click the gear icon in the top-right corner to access “Settings.”
  3. Click the “View all Outlook Settings” option.
  4. Navigate to the “General” tab.
  5. Go to “Privacy and data.”
  6. Scroll until you see the “External images” section.
  7. Select the “Always use the Outlook service to load images” option.

This prompts Outlook to route images and loads them through its own service, which can protect your system from accessing malicious content like tracking pixels.

Disable Tracking With the Trocker Extension

Another way to tackle tracking pixels on a PC would be to use the Trocker Chrome extension.

This open-source extension works with Outlook, Gmail, and Yahoo. It features a heuristic tracker detection algorithm that works immediately once you permit it.

It doesn’t need configuration and becomes active when it detects a tracking pixel embedded in an email. Trocker automatically blocks image links and prevents them from loading.

Trocker works with some tracking links and may even be able to redirect you to the desired target website to prevent tracking. You can even see which emails Trocker flagged as having trackers so you can update your trusted email addresses list.

Although it’s a good extension, there’s no reason to rely solely on Trocker to block tracking images. You can use it as a backup for the in-client prevention methods listed previously.

How To Block Tracking Pixels in Outlook on an Android Device

Despite mobile devices being more prone to tracking, targeted ads, and general privacy issues, the Outlook Mail app simplifies the process of blocking tracking pixels.

Here’s what to do when using Outlook on an Android smartphone or tablet.

  1. Launch the Outlook Mail app.
  2. Tap the profile icon in the inbox section.
  3. Go to “Settings.”
  4. Tap an email address.
  5. Turn on the “Block External Images” feature.

You still have the option to load those images manually, even with this feature turned on. This way, you can still access media content received from trusted senders.

How To Block Tracking Pixels in Outlook on an iPhone

Preventing tracking pixels from accidentally installing on your iPhone is an easy task.

Here’s all you need to do when using Outlook on an iPhone.

  1. Launch the Outlook Mail app.
  2. Tap the profile icon in the upper-left corner of the screen.
  3. Go to “Settings.”
  4. Select the desired email address.
  5. Turn on the “Block External Images” feature.

Similar to using an Android device, you can still download images manually if the blocking feature is activated.

FAQ

Can you block tracking pixels with a VPN?

Defending against email tracking is one of the many privacy features of modern VPNs. VPNs can mask your IP address, thereby negating the data collection capabilities of tracking pixels embedded in emails. A VPN with a vast database of malicious websites can help filter out dangerous tracker links and images.

What is a tracked email?

A tracked email is any email that collects and relays data back to the sender to inform them of how the recipient reacted.

Protect Your Privacy

Even if you have nothing to hide, being exposed to tracking pixels isn’t fun. Marketers and various organizations argue that they’re mandatory to determine how audiences interact with their emails. However, tracking emails almost always leads to unwanted spam emails and sharing your contact information among countless third-party operators.

Keeping your inbox free of trackers isn’t just a way to keep it clean and organized, but is also a way to protect your privacy. These days, the major email service providers have various methods to combat email tracking, and Outlook is no exception.

You can attack this problem on multiple fronts with client-based protection, VPNs, and browser extensions.

Stay safe, and let us know in the comments section below which methods you find most efficient at dealing with tracking pixels.

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