Q: Why is it that when I receive mail with graphics there is an empty box with a red x or a logo in the upper left hand corner of the box. Conversely when the graphics are present in the mail I receive, when I forward said mail, the graphics don’t show up?
By the way, I right click on the red x, and then select “show pic”, but nothing happens?? - Jim Carneghi, Mission Viejo, CA
Gadgetress: Think of the Red X as protection against the digital unknown. But what’s so dangerous about an image in an e-mail?
Don’t get paranoid but remember, computer viruses are often spread when someone opens an infected e-mail. Usually, a suspicious attachment is to blame.
But images are another way for the outside world to know what you’re doing at home on your computer. Some images don’t really live inside the e-mail itself. Instead, they are sitting on some company’s computer. When you open the e-mail, the message pings that company’s computer to get the image. Thus, that company knows that not only did you open the e-mail, they know when you did.
Let me dissect this recent message I got from Apple about the new iMacs. I opened it and not only do I get red X’s, there’s a message in the “InfoBar” at the top that says, “Some pictures have been blocked to help prevent the sender from identifying your computer. Click here to download pictures.”
But if you open up the email’s properties and look at the source of the message, you’ll see that the image goes to a web site. In this case, the “What’s in Store” image actually lives at: http://images.apple.com/chatterbox/us/2=007/08/5508A/img/top.gif
So, now Apple knows that I opened its e-mail. Good thing Apple’s not such a bad seed. But what if it was an annoying spammer?
I just want my images!
If you could care less about the security feature or you don’t mind if advertisers snoop around, then go ahead and let the images load by clicking the warning message. If you don’t even want the warning message, you can turn the feature off.
AOL Mail blocks images from unknown senders. To unblock those, find and select the “settings” link in the e-mail program. Then uncheck the box that says “Hide images in mail from unknown senders.” Don’t forget to save changes! (The save button is right over the “General Settings” line.)
Readers, if you have other e-mail programs you’re wondering about or can offer suggestions to others, please comment below. Thanks!