How to Fix Images Not Downloading Automatically in Outlook

outlook-not-downloading-images-automatically

By default, Outlook will not automatically download images from emails that are received externally. Additionally, you will get a message in the header saying “Click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of some pictures in this message”.

Although you could click on the message and click “Download Pictures”, when you have to do it for every single email, it gets a bit tedious and old after a while.

How to Automatically Download Images for All Incoming Messages

In Outlook 2019, 2016, 2013 and 2010 simply go to File > Options > Trust Center > Trust Center Settings > Automatic Download and then uncheck “Don’t download pictures automatically in HTML e-mail messages or RSS items”.

If you’re using Outlook 2007, go to Tools > Trust Center > Automatic Download and then uncheck “Don’t download pictures automatically in HTML e-mail messages or RSS items”.

For Outlook 2003, go to Tools > Options > Security tab > Change Automatic Download Settings > and then uncheck “Don’t download pictures or other content automatically in HTML e-mail”, and also uncheck “Warn me before downloading content when editing, forwarding, or replying to email”.

outlook-dont-download-pictures

When you uncheck this setting, all future emails that you receive will automatically download images. Before disabling this feature, you should probably keep reading to find out the risks involved and why this security feature is enabled by default.

How to Allow Automatic Image Downloads Only for Some Emails

If you trust the sender, you can allow all pictures and content to be automatically downloaded when you receive emails from them. You can either allow their whole domain (eg. company.com) or just their email address.

To do this, right click on the message header and click “Add Sender to Safe Senders List” or “Add the Domain @example.com to Safe Senders List”.

outlook-add-to-safe-senders-list

Why does this happen?

Outlook has a security feature which prevents images and also some HTML elements from being downloaded from external emails until you allow it.

Although this feature can be annoying, it actually exists for a very good reason.

Imagine that you receive an email from an unknown sender, and you open it. The images in the email are automatically downloaded from the sender’s server. If the sender is monitoring that server, they can easily find out that you opened that email by checking if you downloaded the images. This will instantly tell them that your email address is valid. This is one of the many tactics that spammers use to find out if an email address is valid.

This security feature stops spammers from snooping for email addresses – which is great. However, it’s not so great for email signatures as it doesn’t download the images automatically.

Advantages of Blocking Automatic Image Downloads in Emails

Most of the time when a large company such as Microsoft decide to implement a security feature, there’s usually a good reason behind it.

When you block automatic image downloads in Outlook:

  • You’re making it harder for email spammers to get your email address.
  • You’ll use less bandwidth downloading the emails because the images aren’t downloaded unless you allow it.
  • Your mailbox storage will be smaller because you won’t be storing un-needed images. This reduces the overall email infrastructure costs for your company.
  • You won’t be exposed to potentially insensitive or hurtful images.

Which versions of Outlook have this feature?

This security feature was first introduced in Outlook 2003 and has since been used in all subsequent versions.

4 Replies to “How to Fix Images Not Downloading Automatically in Outlook”

  1. This still does not work. Everyone shows the exact same method, yet it still does not work for me or thousands of others.

      1. Hi Gordan,
        Jim is correct.
        At least in Outlook 2013.
        I do not want to automatically download images for All Incoming Messages, but instead only from Safe Senders.

        Only SOME emails from Safe Senders domains/emails display the “(i) Click here to download pictures” note in the header (and hence the “Download pictures” option). Those emails also show the “Download picture” on the right-click menu on any picture mark.

        However OTHER emails, also from senders in the Safe Senders list, will never display these notes and options, neither in the Reading Pane nor in Open emails. Even unselecting File -> Options -> Mail -> Message Format -> Use Cascading Style Sheets… option has no effect.

        Both types of e-mails show a difference. While the first ones display this note in every picture placeholder: “Right-click here to download pictures.”, the later ones display this note: “The linked image cannot be displayed. The file may have been moved, renamed or deleted.”. However this email can be displayed with all its pictures in other e-mail clients.
        This could indicate where the problem is originating from. Maybe Content-type related.

        1. Hi Jorge,

          Wow, thanks for the insightful response. I didn’t realize there was this issue with Outlook 2013 and I am sure others are experiencing the same problem. I’m personally using Outlook 2016 and haven’t come across this issue myself. Either way, hopefully your write up will help others understand that there is an issue there. As for the resolution, when I have some free time, I’ll take a look to see if I can find anything about it, perhaps from Microsoft.

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