Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Ask The Help Desk - Why Can't I See Graphics In My Incoming E-mail Messages?

Question: Why can't I see graphics on incoming e-mail messages anymore? I used to be able to see them. I use Microsoft's Windows XP and Outlook Express.

Answer: Microsoft Corp. developed and released software called Service Pack 2 (SP2) for Windows XP users in the fall of 2004. Its purpose was to "patch holes" in some of Microsoft's software programs to help reduce the threat of e-mail viruses, e-mail worms, and hacker attacks. SP2 most specifically eliminated many of the vulnerabilities within its Internet Explorer browser and Outlook Express software programs. Most Windows XP users have since downloaded SP2.

One of SP2's protective measures for Outlook Express is to block images from being displayed within incoming e-mail messages as a default setting. Microsoft had discovered that some virus/worm threats arose from malicious code within the graphics of e-mail messages. Microsoft's solution was to prevent users from seeing any graphics within e-mail messages. This is probably the reason you are no longer able to see graphics within your e-mail messages.

Luckily, Microsoft provides an easy option to allow images to appear within messages, either on a per e-mail basis or for all e-mail messages. To see graphics within messages on an e-mail-by-e-mail basis, with your Preview Pane open, follow these steps:

1. Click your cursor arrow on the gray bar located just below the subject line of the message. It will say, "Some pictures have been blocked to help prevent the sender from identifying your computer. Click here to download pictures." If you click anywhere on this gray bar, the pictures for that particular e-mail will appear for as long as you have that e-mail open.

2. If you go to a different e-mail and then come back to this message, you will need to click on that bar again to see the images within the message.

Note: If you don't see the gray bar, open the message in its own window and follow steps one and two above. Otherwise, click your cursor arrow on the "View" menu and drop down to "Layout." When the "Window Layout Properties" window appears, make sure "Show preview pane header" is checked.

If you want to be able to see all pictures on all incoming e-mail messages that contain images, you can disable SP2's default blocking feature by following the steps below.

1. Go to the Outlook Express "Tools" menu and drop down to "Options." When the "Options" window appears, click on the "Security" tab. About half way down the window you'll see an item titled "Download images." You will see a checkbox next to the words "Block images and other external content in HTML e-mail." If you uncheck this box, it will allow images to be viewed again just as it was before your SP2 update.

2. Click "Apply" and then "OK" to save your new settings and close the window.


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