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Internet images are not being downloaded in emails

I’ve received a message with images in it which are located on the Internet. Outlook blocks these images from being downloaded, but even when I tell Outlook to download the images they will not show.

I’ve completely disabled the picture blocking feature in Trust Center-> Automatic Download now and they still don’t download and only show the infamous broken image icon with a red X. This applies to all the emails that I get with Internet  images from different senders so I know it is not an issue with how the message was composed or that the images are no longer available on the web server.

How can I get Outlook to download these images?

Online Pictures button

This question seems to come up more often lately. This could be due to the fact that browsers other than Internet Explorer are becoming more popular now but there are also other instances where the e-mail pictures won’t download for you.

Outlook uses Internet Explorer configuration

To download the email images that are located on the Internet, Outlook relies on a properly configured Internet Explorer. So if Internet Explorer broke down on you and you started using a different browser or never even bothered configuring Internet Explorer because you are a happy Firefox, Chrome, Opera, etc… user, Outlook won’t be able to download the images either.

In short; start Internet Explorer and see if it is still working properly.

If you need to configure a proxy server, you can do so via;
Control Panel-> Internet Options-> tab Connections-> button LAN Settings
Usually it will suffice to enable the option “Automatically detect settings” and disable the rest or simply compare the settings with the configuration settings of your Internet browser.

Another common issue is that Internet Explorer has been set to Work Offline. You can change this via the Tools menu in Internet Explorer or via the File menu by pressing ALT+F.

If Internet Explorer is completely unusable you can reset IE via;
Control Panel-> Internet Options-> tab Advanced-> button Reset…


There is really no need to change the default picture download settings in Outlook in order to download the pictures from the Internet. If it doesn’t work via the option to download the pictures, it won’t work with the options disabled in Trust Center either.

OutlookSecureTempFolder

The OutlookSecureTemp folder is the folder that Outlook uses to save attachments to when they are opened directly from a message within Outlook. It is located in a semi-random location and is not always cleaned up properly after closing the attachment, the message or Outlook. Even though Outlook doesn’t use this folder to actually store the Internet images in, if this folder is “full” or otherwise not available, the picture download will fail.

To locate the folder and learn how to clean it up see the guide;
Error opening attachments / Cleaning out the Temporary Outlook Files folder

OutlookTempCleaner
OutlookTempCleaner can detect and empty Outlook’s Secure Temp folder automatically for you.

Show picture placeholders only

If you have been playing with the display settings within Outlook or Word, then it could be that you have mistakenly enabled the option; Show picture placeholders

In general this option only affects the message when it opened in its own window and not when being displayed in the Reading Pane.

You can find this option in the following location (make sure you open the message first by double clicking on it);

  • Outlook 2003 with Word as the email editor (composing only)
    Tools-> Options…-> tab View-> Picture placeholders
  • Outlook 2007
    Office Orb (top left)-> Editor Options…-> Advanced-> Display e-mail content
  • Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013
    File-> Options-> Mail-> Editor Options…-> Advanced-> Display e-mail content


Verify that the “Show picture placeholders” is disabled.

Proxy Server with Basic Authentication

If you are using Outlook 2007, Outlook 2010 or Outlook 2013 and you are connecting to the Internet via a proxy server which requires basic authentication, then you’ll need to apply the latest updates to Outlook (except for Outlook 2013 but staying up to date is of course always recommended) and configure the following Registry key;

Key: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\<version>\Common
Value name: AllowImageProxyAuth
Value type: REG_DWORD
Value: 2

Note 1: The minimal update required for Outlook 2007 is KB2436194 and for Outlook 2010 KB2459116

Note 2: For more information about the above key see KB2434342 for Outlook 2007 and KB2457649 for Outlook 2010.

Virus scanner or firewall blocking

In some rare situations the picture downloading fails because a virus scanner has altered the message source or a firewall is blocking Outlook from retrieving the pictures.

In this case you should disable your virus scanner’s integration with Outlook and/or reconfigure your firewall so the pictures won’t be blocked. You can disable/uninstall your firewall entirely for testing purposes. If it works now, you’ll know it is caused by the firewall configuration.

Repair or reinstall Office

In very rare situations you might still be having issues. In that case you might want to do a repair installation on Office or completely reinstall it. Reinstalling Office will not delete any settings or Outlook data, but it never hurts to start with making a proper backup first.



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