Technology in terms you understand. Sign up for the Confident Computing newsletter for weekly solutions to make your life easier. Click here and get The Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet — FREE Edition as my thank you for subscribing!

How Do I Keep Attached Photos Out Of An Email’s Message Body?


I want to be able to send a photo as an attachment, but not have it automatically visible when the recipient opens the email. I sent a message to myself with a photo as an attachment and when I opened it, the photo was shown as an attachment, but it was also opened at the below message text.

It seems like overkill to me. If I send six photos as attachments, then the recipient will get six attachments and six opened photos below the message.

How do I stop this behavior.

Well, the short answer is: you don’t. You’re trying to control a feature that may or many not even be present in your recipients mail program.

But there are some games we can play.

Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!


Stop auto-display of email attachments

To prevent auto-display of images in emails, zip them into a .zip file before attaching. Another option is to rename the image’s file extension so it’s not recognized as a photo by the recipient’s email program.

Many mail programs have this feature. Assuming that images aren’t blocked for security, they’ll automatically display attachments below the message body when you view a message. Note that these aren’t additional copies of the photos, they’re just the attachments automatically displayed for you. The program is trying to be helpful, and save you the step of opening each attachment to view it.

Contrast that to Outlook which does not have this feature. I get requests for it regularly, so I know the it’s popular.

I know of no way that you, as the sender of the email, can control this feature directly. If you send a picture as an attachment, it may be automatically displayed if the feature exist and the settings are right in the recipients mail program.

Now, if you really, positively, want to make sure that the images aren’t automatically displayed, then don’t send them as images. Use a “zip” utility to bundle them into a “.zip” file. Normally we think of zipping a file to compress it, but since most images such as “.jpg” files are already compressed, the file probably won’t get much smaller, if at all. However the result will be a zip file, not an image, which you would then send to your recipient as an attachment. Their mailer won’t automatically display it.

The down side is that your recipient will have to un-zip the file before he or she can view the images.

As kind of wacky an alternative you could simply rename the files before you attach them. For example rename “picture.jpg” to “picture.leo”, and the recipient’s mailer won’t know what to do with it. The type of file is indicated by the extension. A “.jpg” file is an image, and the mailer acts accordingly. A “.leo” file? Who knows? Certainly not the mailer, so it shouldn’t display the image that it is.

Again the down side is that your recipient will need to rename the files back, for example renaming “picture.leo” to “picture.jpg”, before they can view them.

Do this

Subscribe to Confident Computing! Less frustration and more confidence, solutions, answers, and tips in your inbox every week.

I'll see you there!

12 comments on “How Do I Keep Attached Photos Out Of An Email’s Message Body?”

  1. > The down side is that your recipient will have to un-zip the file before he or she can view the images.

    The real down side is that you never know if Mickeysoph is going to change Outlook Express so that even the contents of ZIP files get displayed, the same way that the contents of ZIP files now get displayed in XP’s Search results (unless you are savvy to some rather slick and obscure wizardry).

    Take care!

    Cliff the CyberCynic

  2. not tried this but have been told this works
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Identities\{GUID}\Software\Microsoft\Outlook Express\5.0
    where {GUID} is a unique alpha-numerical string corresponding to your identity.
    Set the DWORD value for “Automatically Inline Images” to 0
    create it if it is not there

  3. Based on my limited experience, it appears that the picture shows in the body of the message when it is OPENED in Outlook Express, regardless of the source, Outlook or Outlook Express. (This is what I am trying unsuccessfully to stop.) This does not happen when the mail is opened in Outlook.

  4. When i am trying to send photos as an attatchment to an email it keeps saying error as the photos are the wrong size how do i cure this?

  5. To prevent seeing picture attachments in outlook express messages you receive you can tick the box in the: tools – options – read tab to “read all messages in plain text” – the pictures will not then open until you click on the attachment icon for each picture –will not stop display in the receivers email, but you can at least tell them how to stop it happending in Outlook Express

  6. Here is a solution that works with ‘Outlook Express’, but I have no experience with ‘Outlook’ or ‘Web Clients’
    After you have selected your pictures for entry on the ‘Attach’ line, click on ‘Format’ in the top command line. A Format panel shows up, and at the bottom of that panel, you’ll see the option: “Send pictures with message”.

    Make sure that this option is NOT selected by a check mark. If it is, then de-select this option, and your pictures will show below the text area. They will then only be carried as JPG pictures in your Attach line for the recipient to open them.
    This is not necessarily a permanent setting, and must be checked for every E-mail you send with JPG pictures attached.
    Best of luck.

  7. Bill G fm Ontario provides the best solution for yet another Microsoft pain. If you send a bunch of pics with the pics showing in the msg, there are email clients out there (e.g., yahoo) who reject it outright or aggressively treat it as spam or even think it’s a virus. But apart from changing every extension and then asking the recipient to do the same, Bill gives the least painful solution. I wish MS would stop helping me!

  8. I am looking for the opposite solution, I have a picture which i wish to be opened automatically when i send a email, its a christmas card, but when i send it to outlook it keeps it as a seperate file, so in essence i am sendign a blank mail with an attachement. Is there anyway to sort this out.



Leave a reply:

Before commenting please:

  • Read the article.
  • Comment on the article.
  • No personal information.
  • No spam.

Comments violating those rules will be removed. Comments that don't add value will be removed, including off-topic or content-free comments, or comments that look even a little bit like spam. All comments containing links and certain keywords will be moderated before publication.

I want comments to be valuable for everyone, including those who come later and take the time to read.