Prevent Click Tracking Tools for Gmail

"Miguel knows when you open your email or read it!" A co-worker thought it was creepy that I knew when people were reading my emails. I found it immensely helpful to know if someone had read my email about a meeting 2 minutes before it started, or several days, as well as whether they clicked the links, viewed attached documents, etc.

It had a coolness factor, but also, it must be acknowledged, a creepy one--should we know when people are reading emails we send them? These days, I don't want to know...once emailed, my correspondence becomes the recipient's problem! ;-)



Want to know if someone read your email (a.k.a. "click tracking") sent via Gmail? There are several Chrome add-ons you can use, such as the following:

FREE CROWD
Looking for free? The list is short:
  1. Sidekick Email Tracking - A free tracking tool for your email, as well as scheduling when emails are sent. 200 emails for free.
  2. GetNotify.com - Add .getnotify.com to the end of email addresses your writing to (e.g. mreynolds@gmail.com.getnotify.com) and this will track emails sent. You'll need to get a free account. Has a different approach but works! And, no cost!
COST MONEY
The rest of these cost money, although not right away (listed in order of preference)
  1. MxHero - This was my favorite for a long time, but the time came to pay for it, and I wasn't willing to do that. "features include open and URL click tracking, attachment tracking, self-destructing emails, email read receipts and the ability to schedule an email for later"
  2. MixMax - Another nice tool that allows you to embed polls as well as do all sorts of neat stuff.
  3. Boomerang Read Receipts for Gmail - Just like the other services, you can take advantage of a free feature.
  4. Bananatag - Another click-tracker. "It's free for 5 messages a day, but $5 a month gives you unlimited tracking" via LifeHacker
  5. ContactMonkey - Free version includes 100 emails a month.
  6. Bananatag - An aggressively priced email tracking tool. Check their pricing!
  7. Yesware Email tracking - A Chrome add-on, includes free two month trial with limited features afterwards at no cost or at great cost otherwise! (smile)
  8. MailTrack for Chrome - This is another alternative. It didn't work all that well for me, but I had several others going at the same time.
Of course, it can be annoying when someone uses these tools on you, right? Imagine that vendor--yes, this has happened to me--who knows a few minutes after I've opened their email selling their product and requesting a follow-up visit. Technically, their email is spam, but some writing is too intriguing to pass up. They receive a notification that I've read their email, and I kid you not, within 5-10 minutes, I have a follow-up email from them.

Wouldn't it be neat to know if someone was trying to click-track you? These click-tracking tools work because they embed "invisible" images in the email they've sent you. If you use an email client like Mozilla Thunderbird, you can automatically block those images:

 But sometimes, you want to see the images that come with an email, and that lets the "bad images" in that track you.
By default, Thunderbird blocks remote images and other content in messages from people you don't know. This protects your privacy because spammers can verify your email address by detecting if you viewed a remote image in a message from them. Its also possible to embed an executable (malware) in images.
When you receive a message with remote images, Thunderbird will display an alert stating that remote images have been blocked, and the images in the message body will be replaced with simple place-holders (screenshot). Find out more
CHROME ADD-ONs THAT PROTECT PRIVACY
Two free tools (via LifeHacker) you can use to stop click-tracking include the following:
  1. Uglymail - "Ugly Email is a Gmail extension that allows you to see if the email is being tracked before opening it. It seamlessly integrates with Gmail."
  2. Pixelblock - "PixelBlock is an Gmail extension that blocks email tracking attempts used against you to detect the opening/reading of emails. PixelBlock displays a 'red eye' when it finds and blocks a tracking attempt inside of an email you're reading. "
Here's what UglyMail displays (notice the red eye with a line through it) when blocking a tracker:

If you're concerned about privacy, then you will certainly want to take advantage of one (or both) of these two free tools.

Update: You can deconstruct an MX Toolbar embedded link to get access to a web-hosted (e.g. GoogleDrive) file. It's a pain, adds about 10 minutes and involves copy-n-pasting the link into a text editor. Then, replace all the %20 and other special characters that convert into forward slashes "/" and more. At the end, you have a usable link that provides no evidence that it's been clicked. But by then, you have to ask yourself, Why bother? Just delete it.



Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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