Learn to Prevent Mac OS X Mail from Downloading Remote Images

Play it safe and limit the download of remote images

Illustration of laptop with downloading sign and cloud against blue background

Endai Huedl/Getty 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 email users that disables downloading any content from the net. Don't worry about missing anything though. If you recognize and trust the sender, you can instruct the Mail app to download all the images on an email-by-email basis.

Prevent Mac Mail from Downloading Remote Images

To prevent macOS X and macOS X Mail from downloading remote images:

  1. Select Mail > Preferences from the macOS X or macOS Mail menu.
  2. Click the Viewing tab.
  3. Make sure Load remote content in messages is not selected.
  4. Close the Preferences window.

When you open an email that was sent with remote images in it, you'll see an empty box or boxes with or without a descriptive term for each image that has not been downloaded. At the top of the email is This message contains remote content. Click the Load Remote Content button at the top of the email to load all the images immediately. If you prefer to view just one of the remote images, click on the box in the email to load that image in a web browser.