How to block tracking pixels in Gmail

Unlike messaging apps that have read notifications, emails don’t work quite the same, or at least there aren’t any settings that make it easy to keep track of people. if you read their email.

So, some companies have embedded their emails with a virtually invisible pixel in a link or image, so that every time the email is opened, they will know that you have read their email. Sometimes this information also contains when you opened it and where you opened it.

It sounds like an invasion of your privacy and if you prefer businesses not to know what you are doing with their emails, here is how you can block it if you are using Gmail.

Gmail on the web

  1. Go to Gmail
  2. Click the gear icon in the upper right corner of the screen
  3. Click on View all settings
  4. Under the General tab, find Images
  5. Select “Ask before viewing external images”
  6. Scroll down and click on “Save changes”

This prevents the images from loading in the email which also affects the pixel. While your emails might look a bit bland, they will turn off tracking, but you can still manually click the “Show Pictures” option in emails you trust.

Gmail for Android

  1. Launch the Gmail app
  2. Tap the three lines in the top left corner of the app
  3. Tap Settings
  4. Scroll down and search for “Images”
  5. Press “Ask before viewing external images”

Gmail for iOS

  1. Launch the Gmail app
  2. Tap the three-line icon in the top left corner of the app
  3. Tap the account you want to make the changes to
  4. Tap Pictures
  5. Tap “Ask before viewing external images”, it should now display a check mark next to it

Browser extensions

If you’d rather keep your Gmail’s current image settings and not mess with it, your next best alternative would be to use browser extensions. This includes Ugly email and PixelBlock, both of which are free to download and use. The main difference is that Ugly Email is available for Chrome and Firefox, while PixelBlock appears to be Chrome exclusive at the moment.

Download and install them as you would with a normal browser extension and you are good to go. Emails containing web beacons will display an “eye” icon next to the sender’s name to let you know that tracking has been blocked.

Deposit General. Learn more about Chromium, Firefox, Gmail, Google, Mozilla and Privacy.

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