How can I block email trackers and read receipts?

TL:DR; you can block trackers in three ways, jump to the solutions, but first...

What is an email tracker?

Almost every email we get from a company mailing list these days is tracking us. These trackers work by embedding a pixel within the email, which loads from an external website. When you open the email, the pixel loads and the sender can now see that you've opened it.

As well as simply knowing you've read the email, tracking pixels can be used for various other nefarious and intrusive means, as was proved last year by popular new email client SuperHuman.

It was reported that as well as read-receipts, SuperHuman was recording when the email was opened, how many times it was opened, and even where the recipient was when they opened it, which rightly creeped a lot of people out.

SuperHuman's original pixel tracking output - this has since been removed from the email client after the privacy backlash.

After the exposé, SuperHuman decided to remove these tracking features, but it had started a set of heated conversions on social media regarding the ethical use of tracking pixels.

Unlike other web tracking, with pixel tracking it's not something that you can easily opt-out of. But we've collected a few options, so if you don't want to be tracked then follow these steps...

Disable images

Tracking pixels are tiny 1x1 pixel images embedded in an email. So by far the easiest strategy is to simply block all images in your email client. Most clients let you do this and then allow you to enable the images in a specific email if you need to.

Pros;
- Guaranteed to block all tracking

Cons;
- You wont see images in your client anymore
- If you enable images in a specific email then it will re-enable tracking in that email

How to disable images in Gmail
Disabling images in Gmail

Use our block list with your ad blocker

If you're using an ad-blocker then it can be customised to add specific URLs and elements to block. We've created a custom block list specifically for email pixel tracking URLs. Check it out here for install instructions.

Pros;
- Only block the tracking pixels, other images wont be blocked

Cons;
- We might not catch every URL companies use for tracking as they could periodically change (but you can submit more here and we'll try and keep it up to date).

Finally, it's always in your power to just unsubscribe from mailing lists that are tracking you!

If you need help with this, Leave Me Alone will now show you which mailing lists contain trackers when you run a scan, and as always you can easily unsubscribe from them with a single click.
Leave Me Alone shows you which mailing lists contain trackers
Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this post drop us a like or retweet on Twitter, it really goes a long way to helping us reach more people ❤

There's been some recent controversy around this, but we've been thinking about email pixel trackers, how we feel about them, and what we can do to stop people from spying on our email habits.

So here are three ways we've come up with to stop the tracking 👇

— James Ivings @ 🇹🇭 (@JamesIvings)

READ ALSO:

Myths of Email

And as always, enjoy your clean inbox! 💌

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