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Why is my picture showing up next to emails I send?

Question: One of my email contacts sees an image, which is next to my name at the top left side of the email that they’re viewing. Other contacts don’t see this image. I’ve not knowingly put this image there. The image has a URL link, which goes to Facebook. Do you know how to stop this image from appearing?

My belief is that this boils down to Facebook. But things like this – profile pictures and email being shared – are happening more often. Fortunately, there’s little cause for concern. I’ll explain.

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Where the picture comes from

Many email programs now attempt to provide more information about the sender when an email is viewed. When the program displays the email, it automatically goes out to the internet to see what it can find that’s associated with the “From:” email address. If a picture is available, the program displays that alongside the email when it draws the email on the screen.

It’s not in your email. It’s actually a function of whatever email program that the recipient is using to actually look at your email.

The picture is one that you’ve made public somehow. It’s most likely a profile picture on some online service or social media site that is somehow associated with the email address that you’re using.

Putting the face in Facebook

Blame may be a strong term, but let’s just say my first thought is Facebook in this case.

Facebook is notorious for defaulting things to have more public access than we often intend. They often will make your profile picture public and it is possible that they could even make your email address public. The net result is that email programs that are trying to provide this functionality for the recipients have that as a resource.

Profile Picture in EmailAnother possibility is that you have a profile picture on a Google account, and your recipient is reading your email in Google Mail – or Windows Live and

Personally, I wouldn’t worry about it too much.

It’s something that’s just happening on the recipient’s email program. If you are concerned, then you’ll need to spend some time reviewing the privacy settings for Facebook or Google or any service in which you have a profile picture set, particularly social media services.

Part of what they’re doing is probably  in the name of being social: providing your image when email programs ask for it.

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9 comments on “Why is my picture showing up next to emails I send?”

  1. When I type my name in the google search bar, my google profile comes up, but it shows my personal email addresses. How to I stop them being shown publically.

    • Google only shows search results. So I’m thinking that you may have posted your email address to a forum someplace along with your name. You may want to follow the links and see if you can’t get that removed from what ever site it is on.

    • It could come from a number of sources. As the article suggests, any social media subscription or other online service you’ve associated your photo with. No way of knowing without being able to look at your computer. You can can check the URL of the photo in the email to see the source of the photo.

  2. I had the same thing happen, except I do not have a social media account of any kind, and have never posted the image to the internet. My only guess is that I may have sent the image to the recipient via WhatsApp, their phone automatically saved it and then somehow the Photos face recognition decided to associate it with my contact information on their phone? It was very strange to find out that a random picture of me is being associated with emails I send, without my knowledge!

  3. Hi, I’ve been trying to resolve this problem for over 10 years. Please help. I used to have a picture with myself and another woman on facebook, hotmail, skype. Now, everytime i use my email, it’s pulling that decade old embarrasing picture everywhere! For example, wordpress admin pulls that account, vimeo pulls that account. I’m now married, when i sent out my wedding invites, they saw another woman on the profile picture because they were using a (russian) account. The picture has been rechanged everywhere for many years and some online service is still pulling this decade old pictures and it’s haunting me daily. Please help


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