gmail inline pictures screen

Google updates Gmail to always display photos embedded in emails

If your inbox looks anything like mine, it’s likely rife with newsletters from companies urging you to buy things. I know, I know—I could unsubscribe, but I love to look at the pretty things. Often times, I don’t let the images show up so that I’m deterred from actually buying anything, but Google’s announcement Thursday is likely to ruin me and my bank account.

Google updated Gmail so that it will automatically display photos that are embedded directly into email messages on both the desktop version of the service and through its mobile apps. The company posits that this will actually make your Gmail account safer. In an official blog post, John Rae-Grant, product manager of Gmail, explains that before, Gmail asked you if you wanted to see photos to actually protect you from unknown senders who were attempting to compromise your computer or mobile device with an infected image. Now, instead of loading images directly from the original sender’s external host servers, Rae-Grant writes, “Gmail will now serve all images through Google’s own secure proxy servers.”

Images will also be routed through the same spam filter as other messages sent to a Gmail account so they can be checked for any known viruses or malware. If you’d rather images not show up automatically—say, to avoid data overages on your mobile device or to keep yourself from buying things you really shouldn’t—you can set up Gmail to ask you before it displays those external images under the General tab in Settings. The option will remain the default for those users who previously selected it, too.

The new Gmail functionality will begin rolling out Thursday to the Web; Gmail’s mobile apps will get an update early next year.

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