There are numerous services that allow the sender to track emails, including when email was opened, which links were clicked, what device was used, and even the recipient’s current location. And all of this without the consent of the reader.
Therefore, we think emails should be something personal and we find email tracking a form of privacy invasion. So, the antidote we use for this are a bunch of tricks to track and disable email tracking. If you feel the same, then we can help you save yourself from email tracking as well. Below are some ways you can know if your emails are being tracked and how to disable this feature for your emails.
Before we get to the business, let’s first see how email tracking actually works. Usually, there are two ways to track emails. Either the tracking software will attach an invisible trackable image called pixel-beacon, or you will receive a link that you can click to see the email content.
In the first method, the trackable images connect with tracking software servers to let them know about email interaction. And in the case of a tracking link, the interface where you read the email is a tracker in itself.
There are multiple ways to detect email tracking, below are solutions to most common tracking methods:
All of the popular email services like Gmail, Outlook, and Yahoo don’t show external images by default. Your email provider will automatically ask to open external images or not, in case there is a trackable image. You can decline this request to disable tracking for that email.
Of course, there is a chance that the email may have contained an important image instead. However, you will have to guess yourself whether the email contained a tracking image or an actual viewable image.
Opening links inside email is never recommended, and this is especially true for links to see the email content. If the email has a link to see the email content, then only click it when it’s ok to let the sender know that you have read the message.
Most server side trackers send their email or website URL along with the email, you can look for it to check for tracking.
To detect if your email is being tracked through this method, go to your email service and look for Show Original Message option that shows server side data. For example, in Gmail, you can click on More > Show Original to access it.
To see all the addresses in the original message, Press Ctrl + F and type.com in it. This will reveal all the email or website addresses mentioned there. If you find any third-party address apart from your email service, links in the message, or your own email address, then search it online to see if it connects to a tracking service or not.
Using this method, you can also use the keyword
track inside the original content. Sometimes a tracking service may not mention their address, but track or tracking word should be there.
The above methods are good, but not very reliable. That is why we recommend using a third-party app instead that is more effective. For this purpose, we are going to use Ugly Email. It has proven itself since its inception. It’s a Chrome extension that lets you see tracked emails in Gmail. Unfortunately, it’s limited to Chrome and Gmail users only. Remember, browsers like Brave, Chromium and even Edge are based on the 'chrome engine'.
Ugly Email has improved a lot recently and supports almost all of the popular tracking services. It can detect and disable email tracking, and can even tell which service was used for tracking. Once installed, it will simply show an “eye" icon next to tracked emails.
As to their website, the Ugly Email is the #1 most downloaded Gmail extension for blocking read receipts
and other email tracking pixels. And Ugly Email is since 3 years (at least) even open-source! (do whatever you like with it!)
Ugly Email scans through your inbox and looks for emails containing tracking pixels. Tracked emails are labeled with an eyeball() icon, and the tracking pixel is blocked.
All of the Ugly Email data is stored on your browser's IndexDB storage locally. We do not track, transfer, or store any of your information.
Ugly Email does not work cross-platform. As mentioned above, all detection is done locally on your desktop browser. We also do not alter your emails nor permanently strip the tracking pixels. We block them.
Well, then we need to look for some alternatives. But first of all, why not testing the email by forwarding it to a security and tracker check service? One that can be used is Scary Senders, to detect spooky spy pixels in your emails. Forward your suspicious letter to Scary Senders' friendly ghosts!
Let's lure them out! Go ahead to https://scarysenders.com/ and read the instructions written by the ghosts: Forward an email to the Scary Senders email address below and our friendly, privacy-protecting ghosts scan it to detect spooky tracking pixels that spy on you. After they've processed the email, they generate a report that you can share with others – to either raise the awareness of these spooky tactics or tell your subscribers that you are not tracking them.
And happy hunting!