Email messages can contain remote content such as images or stylesheets. To protect your privacy, Thunderbird does not load remote content automatically, but instead shows a notification bar to indicate that it blocked remote content.
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What is remote content and why is it blocked?
Remote content are parts of a message (such as images, stylesheets, or videos) which are not included in the message itself, but are downloaded from the Internet when you view the message.
Remote content is a privacy concern because it allows the message sender to know:
- each time you view the message
- rough details about what application and what platform you are using
- your current geographic location (a rough approximation by IP address)
- that your email address is actually used ("active")
This is almost the same information websites commonly collect about you during normal web surfing. While browsing has the same privacy implications, what makes remote content in messages different is that it is targeted at you initially, so you can assume your access is directly linkable to your email address. This is also why spam often contains remote images (also known as "web bugs") which allow the spammer to mark your address as valid if the image is ever loaded.
How does Thunderbird protect my privacy?
By default, Thunderbird blocks, and does not download, remote content so that the sender does not get any information about you. Instead, it displays a notification bar with the message To protect your privacy, Thunderbird has blocked remote content in this message.
Display remote content for a particular message, sender or website
If you trust the sender, you can allow remote content to be downloaded. Emails look much better with images and stylesheets turned on. To load remote content, clickin the notification bar and select one of the following options:
- to show remote content just for this particular message;
- to display remote content by default (see next section);
- (to load remote content from all sites the message refers to, click ; ) to show the remote content stored on this site
- to show the remote content for all messages from this sender.
Note however, that email addresses are easily spoofable in contrast to websites that serve remote content. As long as the network is not compromised, it is much more difficult to spoof content than email addresses.
Display remote content by default
If you are willing to accept the privacy implications of displaying remote content for all messages, Thunderbird allows you to display remote content by default. To set it so:
- At the top of the Thunderbird window, click the menu and select In the menu bar, click the menu and select At the top of the Thunderbird window, click the , or click the menu button menu and select and choose .
- Select the panel.
- Check the
checkbox to have all remote content loaded by default.
- You can exclude specific sites from the rule. Click the button, type the website or email address and click or .