HTML email

How can I prevent my email from displaying images?

Gmail

Episode 1613

Sam from Eugene, Oregon

Sam has worked hard to minimize his bandwidth by turning off images in his email account. But it the image still flashes briefly, what gives? Leo says that what Sam has discovered is that while the email account isn't displaying the image, it's set to display your email as HTML, and that means it's still downloading them, and that can trigger a virus or exploit. What you need to do is use an email client that only downloads the ASCII text email and not display emails in HTML. That will prevent it. Thunderbird is free and is very good. Turn off HTML and image loading.

Why can't I see images in Outlook?

Outlook Email

Episode 1495

Ron from Charlotte, NC

Ron has messed up his Outlook. Now he can't see any images in the body of the email, and it won't download any graphics. Leo says that's a good thing! Outlook disables downloading jpgs by default because they can be hacked to include malware. That's called HTML email and it's a bad idea. So he'd have to opt-in to enable it, but Leo wouldn't. Plain text emails are always best. But if he really wants to, he can go into the Trust Center and change the settings.

How can I protect my email account in Outlook?

Email

Episode 1472

Nathan from Canada

Nathan gets a lot of "sketchy emails," and he wants to know how he can avoid that. Leo says he really can't avoid it, but most email programs can render any malware written into an HTML formatted email neutral. If he's using his mobile device, there's really no exploits that can hijack the phone. It's possible, but not at all likely. Malware emails are more dangerous in a browser rather than an email client. He can turn off HTML in the settings if that worries him, though.

Is there an alternative to HTML based mail in the iPhone?

Apple iPhone X

Episode 1444

Marco from Portugal

Marco wants a better email client for his iPhone. He's not a fan of HTML based email. Leo says it's dangerous, but most mail clients including Apple Mail panders to users who want to see pretty pictures. But it's just not as secure. They do prevent loading of images unless you request them, but plain text will always be more secure.

How about a good antivirus for his iPhone? Leo says he doesn't have to worry about viruses in an iPhone or macOS. There haven't been any successful malware attempts on iOS.

Why can't I visit links I get in email?

Episode 1292

Al from Chino, CA

Al recently upgraded to Windows 10 and Chrome has been giving him error messages preventing him to go to certain sites. Leo says to trust that. It's likely that the site has some malware code in it that will cause issues down the line. It could be a generic warning though. To be safe, Al shouldn't click on any links. Instead he should hover over it to see what the actual link is. It's possible to spoof a link with HTML code. In fact, Leo suggests turning off HTML in his email client. Leo suggests also using Thunderbird. It will give him the option of text only.

Can email senders track when I've opened their messages?

Email

Episode 1174

Hank from Santa Ana, CA

Hank always gets unsolicited emails and he suspects that when those emails are opened, they send a confirmation of it being read. So he disconnects before reading to prevent that from happening. Leo says he never opens spam because he wants to discourage the practice. Spammers often put beacons in messages, which are actually links to invisible image files that are 1 pixel in size. Those images are actually on their servers, so when a message is opened and the image is loaded, it hits their servers.