Outlook: Sending HTML Messages to Outlook 2003 Users

We distribute a newsletter in HTML format and have heard that Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 users can't see the graphics that make up a large part of our newsletter's layout. What can we do to ensure that readers see our newsletter as we intend them to see it?

By default, Outlook 2003 blocks the automatic download of images from the Internet when users view a message either in the reading pane (Outlook 2003's new name for the preview pane) or in an individual message window. For each image, users see a red X and the message Click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevents automatic download of some pictures in this message.

Microsoft calls this behavior a privacy feature because many HTML messages with a marketing focus include invisible Web bugs—images with embedded URLs that tell the sender that you've opened a message, thus providing readership data for advertisers and confirming an email address. (Oddly, though, the feature seems incomplete: Outlook downloads the images when you forward or print the message.) Your Outlook 2003 readers can turn off picture blocking for all the messages they receive by selecting Tools, Options, Security; clicking Change Automatic Download Settings; and selecting Warn me before downloading content when editing, forwarding, or replying to e-mail in the Automatic Picture Download Settings dialog box which Figure 3 shows (however, readers will still receive a warning message, as the option label suggests).

Alternatively, you can tell your Outlook 2003 readers how to disable picture blocking just for your messages. They must add the newsletter's From address to the Safe Senders list. To manage the Safe Senders and Safe Recipients lists in Outlook 2003, your readers can click Tools, Options, Junk E-mail. Then in the Automatic Picture Download Settings dialog box, readers can leave automatic download of images turned off and select the option to permit downloads in messages from and to the people on their Safe Senders and Safe Recipients lists.

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