Learn to Prevent Mac OS X Mail From Downloading Remote Images

Play it safe and limit the download of remote images

Emails and newsletters in HTML format look great in the Mail application in Mac OS X and macOS, and they are easy to read, but HTML emails can compromise your security and privacy by downloading remote images and other objects when you're reading them.

MacOS X Mail has an option for security- and privacy-conscious users that disables downloading any content from the net. If you recognize and trust the sender, you can instruct the Mail app to download all of the images on an email-by-email basis.

Instructions in this article apply to Mac OS X Tiger (10.4) and later.

How to Prevent Mac Mail From Downloading Remote Images

To prevent Mail from downloading remote images:

  1. Select Preferences from the Mail menu.

    The keyboard shortcut is Command+, (comma).

    The macOS Mail menu with Preferences highlighted
  2. Click the Viewing tab.

    Mail Preferences with the Viewing tab highlighted
  3. Unclick the box next to Load remote content in messages to remove the check mark.

    MacOS Mail Viewing preferences screen
  4. Close the Preferences window.

Now, when you open an email with remote images in it, you'll see an empty box for each image that has not been downloaded. At the top of the email is a message that says, "This message contains remote content."

Click the Load Remote Content button at the top of the email to load all the images immediately.

To view just one of the remote images, click the box in the email to load that image in a web browser.

Email with Load remote content highlighted