An Easy Way to Prevent Email Tracking

If you don't prevent it, both the legitimate companies and scammers will think you'll want more of their messages...

email tracking

Email tracking is one of those technologies that were invented with right intentions but which use, in most cases, went the other way. These days, it is being used by legitimate businesses as well as scammers, both of which are looking to find out whether you’re reading their messages and clicking on the provided links.

What’s more, thanks to the new trackers, the sender can know that you’ve opened their message multiple times — if that’s the case. And if you actually click on some link from the email, they get to add many other data points to that information – such as the browser you’re using, operating system, and your location – if you’re not using a VPN to mask your real IP address.

How email tracking works?

The technology behind email tracking is pixel tracking, which involves adding an invisible, single-pixel image in the email to track email opens. If the email recipient has image loading enabled on their email client and a request for the invisible image is executed, then an open event is logged.

In other words, if this image is loaded, the sender sees that you have opened the message.

And if you click on a link in the email, chances are you will be redirected to the page where trackers will get to know even more about you.

So the first thing you could do is NOT to click on links in the emails from the people and companies you don’t know.

The second (easy) thing is to…

Stop auto-loading of images in emails

This is the mentioned easy way of preventing email tracking. You can always load images afterwards after you have concluded that you trust the email sender and would like to know more about what they’re talking about. Sometimes, they use images to explain that.

In Gmail, you can prevent auto-loading of images from the “Settings” screen in your “Email preferences”:

  • Click on the “general” tab and scroll down to images
  • Check the box that says “Ask before displaying external images”.
  • Scroll to the bottom of the page and click “Save Changes”.

And you’re good to go.

In the Mail app for iPhone and iPad:

  • Go to Settings
  • Select Mail
  • Scroll down to “Load remote images” and turn it off.

There are similar settings to change in most email clients, so make sure to take appropriate steps in order to disable auto-loading of images. You can always thank us later. 😉

Alternative ways to prevent pixel tracking

Aside from disabling auto-loading of images in the email’s app/service settings, there are also alternative ways to stop email tracking – by using dedicated plugins. These would include:

  • PixelBlock – which blocks images from loading and alerts users when it detects an email tracker.
  • Trocker – available for Chrome and Firefox, this extension will display pixel trackers as well as links that are being tracked.
  • Ugly Email – this Chrome extension alerts users to the presence of possible trackers even before you open the message.

You could also…

Get a VPN to better protect yourself from tracking

A VPN will protect you by channeling all your Internet traffic through its servers, presenting that server’s IP address to the world instead of the one your ISP gave you. This way, the entire world will see you accessing the sites and services from a different location — thus shielding you from various trackers.

In addition, a VPN will also let you do other things online, such as allowing you to access parts of the Internet which would otherwise be outside of your reach. This same capability will let you bypass censorship in places where the authorities don’t like its constituents to freely browse the world wide web.

And that’s just a start as a good VPN has much more to offer. Therefore, we think everyone should be using a VPN these days — and to get one for yourself, check out our page with Best of the Best VPNs and take it from there…