How Can You Tell Your Emails Are Being Tracked?

How Can You Tell Your Emails Are Being Tracked?
  • How Can You Tell Your Emails Are Being Tracked?

Did you know that when you get an email message, you may not actually see everything that’s there in it. A lot of messages arrive with hidden code meant to report to the sender whether, when and where you open them. Marketing teams use the information to evaluate if you are interested in the content they are sending you. Are you okay with them tracking you like that? If not, here are a few ways you can spot the tracking in email messages you receive.


To start off this guide, we have to warn you that there is really no way of dodging email tracking with 100% effectiveness, just because the technologies used to implement tracking are evolving all the time.


As a mostly effective and quick solution, try the Ugly Email browser extension available for Google Chrome only. Add the extension to your browser and reload Gmail to see the eye symbol next to messages that have tracking code embedded. You will now know which companies are trying to track you and decide if you want to allow them to do it. If you don’t feel like it, simply delete the messages without opening them to avoid being tracked.


The tracker that comes with messages is normally an invisible single-pixel image. When you open the message, this image gets retrieved from the server it’s hosted on and the message sender gets the info they were looking for. Since the tracker is an image, you can also use the old-school method of avoiding email trackers is to not load images by default (under General in Gmail’s settings) but that’s not an ideal solution.

Another extension to use with Google Chrome that works in a similar way is PixelBlock. With this extension you actually have to open the email messages to see the eye symbols, but it does offer more information about the tracking. You see the number of attempts at tracking you and the source of the tracker for each email message. For best effect, you may want to get both of these tools for your web browser.


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