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Getting rid of empty Contact pictures

In Outlook, everywhere I look, I see a placeholder as the Contact’s picture.

Rather than seeing this placeholder all the time, can’t I simply remove it altogether?

Contact image placeholderThe really short answer; Yes, you can!

  • Outlook 2010
    File-> Options-> Contacts-> disable: Show user photographs when available
  • Outlook 2013
    File-> Options-> People-> disable: Show user photographs when available

Restart Outlook, and the pictures won’t show anymore.

Sadly, it really is an all or nothing deal here. When you do have a picture set for a contact, it won’t be shown anymore either.

Outlook 2013’s huge message header

Button Reading PaneIf you thought that removing the Contact image from the message header would reduce the space the message header takes up, I need to disappoint you; It doesn’t.

Especially when you have a relatively small screen and the Reading Pane at the bottom, this can be quite an issue. In those cases, it is better to have the Reading Pane on the right side.

This feedback has definitely been heard by the Outlook Team though.

Contact pictures can come from multiple sources

Social NetworksNote that there isn’t any need to manually set a picture for each contact of your own. The pictures that you see for your Contacts can be set or obtained via any mix of the following methods:

  • Set manually for the contacts in your Contacts folder.
    Just open the contact item and set a picture (except via the People view in Outlook 2013).
  • Obtained via the Outlook Social Connector (People Pane).
    For instance, from Facebook, LinkedIn or SharePoint.
  • Obtained via the Address Book of your Exchange account.
    This is usually set and maintained by User Management and can’t be set by yourself in Outlook.

Note: In all cases, the picture isn’t part of the message itself and you are also not sending out your emails with your contact picture attached. If your recipients sees an image of you, it is because it was obtained by one of the above methods.