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How to find out which emails are tracking you quietly

Everyone sends emails now: political parties, your book club, freelance journalists, the social networks you are registered with, your parents, that online store from which you bought just one item from a decade ago, and many, many more.

What do many of these email senders have in common? They want to know if the messages they send you open, and there are many tools to help them do just that – tools that aren’t that hard to use.

A tracking pixel embedded somewhere in an email is the way most people track whether an email opens. Once the small hidden one-pixel image is loaded, it is reported back to the database. According to some experts, their use in emails is now to “endemic”

; levels.

Tracking pixels can read the opening times and dates of their associated email, as well as the location of the device used and the email client involved. This is a lot of data to send back to a third party that you may not know much about.

Marketers and newsletter writers would say that this type of tracking is essential for understanding their audience and what they are most interested in reading – as well as the type of return they receive from their advertising dollars – but on the other hand, you may feel like an invasion of privacy to have a look over your shoulder, making a note every time you open and read a specific email, especially if you don’t know it’s happening.

You may not be able to do much to use these tracking pixels, but you can take steps to stop them from working and see which messages include them – so you know which people and companies are particularly interested in you. , and you can choose which to allow and which not.

Stop tracking emails

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Blocking images in an email client blocks tracking pixels.

(Outlook Mail via David Nield)

Emails are usually tracked using the pixel method we mentioned, so the easiest way to stop this is to stop loading the default images in your chosen email application. In the end, your messages look less appealing, but it’s worth compromising if you want that level of control.

In Gmail on the Web, click the tooth icon (top right), and then See all settings and Total: до Images, select Ask before showing external images. In MacOS Mail, select Mail,, Preferences,, Review and uncheck Load remote content in messages. In Outlook Mail, which comes with Windows 10, tap the tooth icon at the bottom of the navigation pane, and then select Reading window and make sure both Automatic download of external images options are off.

You can find similar settings on your phone. In Gmail for Android or iOS, tap the menu button (top left), then Settings, then your email account and Images. For iOS Mail, open the main settings app, then select Mail and turn off Load remote images option. In Outlook for Android and iOS, tap your profile picture (top left), then the gear icon, then your email account – then you can activate Block external images option.

Email applications other than those mentioned by us usually have similar options that you can take advantage of. It is still possible to view images in emails in these applications, it will just need an extra touch or click to do so. If the images are not loaded, then the built-in tracking pixels will not be available and will not report that they are open.

Tracking email tracking

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