How to Block Trackers in Incoming Emails in Gmail

Nancy Messieh 03-04-2017

Email trackers are commonly used in newsletters sent using a newsletter service to let senders know when you’ve opened their emails. With the help of a Chrome extension, that tracking can be blocked — to a certain extent.


How Does Email Tracking Work?

Email tracking is usually done using an invisible 1 x 1 pixel image included in the email. The tracker lets the sender know if the email has been opened, and can often relay information about your device, location, and which links you click.

While this information can be useful to content marketers, allowing them to improve their content based on their audience’s interests, it is still being done without the recipient’s consent, and in many cases, awareness.

How to Block Email Trackers in Chrome

Gmail users can identify emails that include trackers by installing the Chrome extension Ugly Email. After you install the extension, refresh your Gmail inbox, and any email that contains a tracker in it will be identified with a small eye icon.

How to Block Trackers in Incoming Emails in Gmail UglyEmail

Ugly Email is able to identify invisible 1 x 1 pixel images that act as trackers, and Ugly Email blocks that tracker so you can open your email without your information being relayed to the sender. That feature does come at a price: it requires read/write permission on Chrome, but promises not to store, transfer, transmit or save any of your data. You have to decide what is more important to you.


According to Ugly Email, emails sent using MailChimp, Boomerang, TinyLetter, and more will be blocked.

How to Block Trackers in Incoming Emails in Gmail Trackers 670x192

PixelBlock is another similar Chrome extension you can use alongside Ugly Email to cover all your bases, but if you prefer not to install another extension, you could at least change your email settings, by preventing images from automatically downloading in your messages. But remember, this, like any other method, won’t be completely foolproof.

To prevent images from automatically downloading in Gmail, go to Settings > General and scroll down to images and make sure Ask before displaying external images is checked.

Which of these methods would you use to block trackers? Or is it something that just doesn’t bother you? Let us know in the comments.

Image Credit: Joe the Goat Farmer via Flickr

Related topics: Email Tips, Gmail, Online Privacy.

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  1. Arjuna
    August 31, 2018 at 6:42 am

    Great Job!!

  2. Annah
    September 29, 2017 at 6:50 pm

    I use Gmelius ( to detect and block email trackers. It's a long time Pixel Block and Ugly Email haven't been updated... Gmelius is more reliable.

  3. Sean
    April 3, 2017 at 3:14 pm

    I use Hubspot/Sidekick to make sure my emails get read by my clients and these kinds of extensions make me worry. Now I have to send highly skilled private investigators to sit outside their windows to make sure they open my attempts to contact them.

  4. Pravin S
    April 3, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    I use Ugly Email to identify the emails with trackers. Mostly subscriptions.