How to Have Gmail Display Remote Images for Safe Senders

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Get remote images safely and do not look directly into the sun!. ©Santiago Medem; CC BY-SA 2.0 license

You can have Gmail show images in emails and still be reasonably protected from malware and privacy infringement.

Clicking for Every Email’s Images or Sender? Not Necessary.

"Always display images from..."
"Always display images from..."
"Always display images from..."

How many senders can there be, and, more to the point, why should you have to authorize all your friends, family, colleagues and clients with whom you exchange mail frequently?

Why click, at least once, for each newsletter you receive?

You do not have to: you can let Gmail do the clicking and authorization on its own instead. For safe senders, Gmail can display images automatically, no clicking required on your part.

Have Gmail Display Remote Images for Safe Senders Automatically

To make Gmail show remote images and display them automatically in emails from senders deemed trustworthy:

  1. Click the Settings gear icon () near your Gmail's top right corner.
  2. Follow the Settings link in the menu that has appeared.
  3. Go to the General tab.
  4. Make sure Always display external images is selected under Images:.
    • Select Ask before displaying external images to have remote images show automatically only in messages from senders for whom you have enabled remote content (by clicking Always display images from… in a message from them under Images are not displayed).
      Of course, you can always also see images in individual emails; click Display images below under Images are not displayed..
  1. Click Save Changes.

Inbox by Gmail will always display images automatically for emails from senders it deems safe.

Will My Computer and Privacy Still Be Safe with Automatic Image Loading in Gmail?

Remote images in emails are used for tracking, they may reveal your approximate location and could install malware.

These are all good reasons not to enable automatic downloading of images in arbitrary emails.

Gmail does a lot to mitigate and protect you from these very risks—even if automatic downloading is turned on.

  • First, Gmail scans all messages and their senders for potential threats to privacy and data. If an email is from a source that is not trustworthy, or if Gmail suspects malicious intent, remote content will not be loaded.
  • Second, even the images in emails from reputable senders are not downloaded directly from the sender's server to your computer. Instead, Gmail inserts itself as an image proxy: it requests the image, saves it and then shows its own copy to you. All the sender learns is that Gmail downloaded the image.
  • Third, this means senders cannot use images to set cookies in your browser or find out about your physical location; they can know you opened a message, though, when an image unique to your email is downloaded by Gmail, of course.
  • Remember these security measures only protect your data and privacy if you use Gmail in a browser. Email programs (connecting to Gmail using IMAP or POP) do have their own privacy settings for remote images, though, and you will still profit from Gmail scanning for malware.