External Images and Other Content

Quick guide to blocking options for external content in eM Client

External Images and Other Content are objects in an email that are not directly a part of the email, but that are downloaded from an external source once you open the message. Inside the given message there is only a link that will give instructions to your internet browser or email client to download and then display this external content, which can be an image, sound, video or any other file linked to an external server or even a script or code that once downloaded and executed, could compromise your security.

This method can be used to track if you have opened the particular email, since downloading the external content will cause a connection to a specific mail server that the sender can be tracking. This action is not always malicious, but can be misused by spammers to check if your email address is still in use and by getting this confirmation of the email being read they can send you more unwanted messages or share your email address to other third parties for profit.

Tracking pixels which can be part of this external content are able to show your actual IP address every time you open the message and nowadays with GeoIP services that means that the sender can find out your location very accurately, down to the street or even a building you were in at the time, opening you up to dangers not only online but in real life as well.

If you deactivate external content, some messages may not look as they were designed by the sender, since the pictures or custom fonts are missing. However, this will most likely only affect commercial emails, as this method is rarely used in private email conversations. In most cases, the blocked content will be a logo or style sheet, adding prettier visuals but not content, so you won't miss much by not downloading it. In the case of advertisements that are all images, you can opt to download the content when the message subject or text in the body is interesting enough to convince you that the blocked content is worth reading.

When there are any external images or content in the message, you will see this confirmation in the information bar under the message header:

Download pictures or always download pictures from this sender. To preserve privacy, external content was not downloaded.

How to block External content in eM Client

You can find all settings for displaying external content in Menu > Settings > Mail > Privacy.

In the External Images and Other Content section, there are three options to choose from:

  • Block external content
    This option will block all external content by default. There are exceptions that can be set for this option, since it’s quite a finite one:
    • Display content from whitelisted senders
      With this option you can block everything but content from senders in your Whitelist - which is a list of senders you can curate by adding trusted contacts into it via the option to ‘always download pictures from this sender‘ in the information bar under the message header. Using the ‘Manage Whitelist...’ button you can view and remove any contacts if you change your mind.
    • Display content from people in contact list
      This option will use all addresses in your contact list as an automatic Whitelist. This can be useful when you curate your contacts and keep only trusted senders in them, but some email providers with synchronized address books can add some emails to your list automatically when you respond to them, so keep this in mind before using this option or check to see if this feature is present and desirable for your purposes.
    • Display content when email tracking in detected
      This option will allow you to download all external content but leave out the parts that eM Client detected are used for email tracking. Since it is rare that all images, links and other details in a single email are used for tracking, this option can make it easier to read the message in full but keep your privacy protected.
      You can read more about Email Tracking here.
  • Display content when email tracking is not detected
    This option will download external images and content only for emails that are not showing any signs of email tracking elements, which makes it less likely that the message is used for marketing or spam.
    You can read more about Email Tracking here.
  • Display unsafe content in all messages
    This option will automatically download and show all external content, no matter who it is from or if it contains any email tracking elements. It is the least secure option.

If you are happy with the setting option you select above, you can then also decide if you want to see the confirmation for External content download in the information bar under the message header.

Using the checkbox for the option to ‘Ask before downloading external content when editing, forwarding or replying to email.’ you can enable or disable the warning in the information bar. If you are set to either never or always display this content, then hiding this confirmation can save you some space in the message detail section of eM Client.