Last reviewed on April 22, 2015   —  101 Comments

Applies to: Microsoft Outlook 2013, Outlook 2010, Outlook 2007 and older

There are three causes of pictures not displaying in Microsoft Outlook email messages:

You are blocking external content, your SecureTemp folder is "full", or you have Word's Picture placeholder setting enabled.

I think we can add a fourth cause: an Internet Explorer setting for saving encrypted pages to disk. Thanks to William for sharing this with us.

In IE go to Internet Options-Advanced; look under Security for Do not save encrypted files to disk. Untick this setting and Apply. Restart Outlook and you should be fixed.

Save encrypted files setting

Checking the Picture Placeholder setting

If you do not see a red x but have a blank box shaped/sized like the graphic or photo, you have Show picture placeholders enabled. (A great feature if your Internet connection is slow.)

Note that this dialog is accessible from a COMPOSE MESSAGE window, not the main Outlook window!

In Outlook 2010 or Outlook 2013 you need to follow these steps:

  1. Click the New Email button or press Ctrl+N while viewing the Inbox.
  2. Go to the new message's File, Options dialog.
  3. Click Mail, then Editor Options
  4. Select Advanced and look near the bottom of the dialog for the option to Show Picture Placeholders.
  5. Uncheck the box to Show picture placeholders
  6. Close the dialog then close the message.

After changing the settings, close the message. Do not sent it! This, like many other message settings (zoom, etc), will apply only to the current message if you send it. You need to close the message to change the global setting.

picture places option

In Outlook 2007:

  1. While in a New message window
  2. Click the Office icon
  3. Click the Editor options button on the lower right of the dialog
  4. Select Advanced from the left menu of the Editor options dialog
  5. Scroll down to Display email contents section (near the bottom)
  6. Uncheck the box to Show picture placeholders
  7. Then click OK to apply and close the dialog.
  8. Close the message.

In older versions, this is an Internet Options setting, accessible from either IE's Tools menu or Control Panel. In the Internet Options dialog, go to the Advanced tab. The Show pictures option is in the Multimedia group, about halfway down.

Discuss in our community


  1. Yehonatan says

    In my office 2010 it was not in the advanced but in mail and in editor settings window.
    but it helped anyway, especially the note about having it in the sending mail window and not in the gen outlook settings.

    • plautz8 says

      I tried it too and it utterly failed and left me in a worse condition. I went to mail, edit under compose, advanced and found my placeholder box was already unchecked. so I decided to check it to see what effect it had on my e-mail and it produced a small rectangular open box with nothing in it just like it said it would. it was better than the box with a red "X" or a bunch of colors in a small box. But when I went back into my e-mail to uncheck the show placeholders box, It Was No Where to Be Found! The section with that information in it was now gone and not in my computer at all. What now do you suggest I do? I now have permanent black open boxes in my e-mail pictures with no way to fix it or even try something else to get my pictures back in my e-mails.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Begin by restarting Outlook (or the computer) - changing that setting (or any others) won't remove the option.

      The black boxes indicate there is a resource or video card driver problem and the screen isn't redrawing. If you use Office 2010 or 2013, it could indicate you should check the option to disable hardware acceleration.

  2. Bert GF Shankman says

    Following the instructions I drilled down. However 'Show picture placeholders' was not selected. In my downloaded emails I get the boxes with red Xs. I want to see the images. I just purchased Office 2010 and installed it as an upgrade to Office XP. Are there any other suggestions?

    • dan says

      i had the same problem with outlook. it is an outlook problem. Go to microsoft website and there is a fix for it there. it will do it for you automatically. i have outlook 2007. it was driving me crazy until the fix. hope this works for you.

  3. David says

    This setting keeps reverting back to 'show picture placeholders' for a certain user on our network. Can you think of anything that would keep changing this back?

    • Diane Poremsky says

      If it only happens after a reboot, outlook or the computer didn't close correctly and the registry was replaced with the last known good. It happens a lot when Windows does the automatic reboots. Registry cleaner utilities will also cause problems but I assume you aren't using those in a corporate environment.

  4. Martin says

    I have the exact same issue. It reverts back to 'show picture placeholders' for a certain user on our network. Did you have any luck solving it?

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Make sure Outlook closes cleanly when you close it - some changes aren't saved until outlook closes. Close Outlook before rebooting, don't let windows close it for you.

  5. Pam says

    It worked! Found 'Editor' and yes, had the place holder checked! Uncheced it and my pictures returned! Yea! Thank You!
    Is there a 'Clifnotes for Dummies'for Outlook 2007? Never quite understand what some of these options and the question mark usually brings up info that doesn't
    get it or covers other things :(

  6. Aliuska Snijders says

    Hi Diane,

    I just wanted to thank you for this post as I've been looking for the solution to this problem for months without finding the right answer until you. Thanks a lot!


    • Diane Poremsky says

      Outlook 2010 or 2013? Click the expander in the Tags chunk to open the Options dialog. The File tab, Properties button will open the same dialog.
      Tags - Options (properties)

  7. Ray Han says

    I also hit the same problem and try to find the solution for weeks.I solved the issue from your help and guidance.
    Really appreciate it.
    Ray Han

    • Diane Poremsky says

      It is when you open a compose message form (Ctrl+N) and look in Options > Editor Options > Advanced

  8. Paul says


    I have unchecked placeholders, but still no pictures. This is very frustrating - I've had this computer for two years and never had this problem before. Please advise.


    • Diane Poremsky says

      Did the problem just start after an update was installed? Like maybe, IE10? I'm seeing issues after it's installed - deleting the SecureTemp key from the registry seems to fix it. See Red X for the key to delete.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      The Office icon inside the round button in the upper left where File menus are in other versions.

  9. Bruce says

    After both the past two automatic windows updates, my Outlook 2010 mail no longer displays pictures. It doesn't display the little box with the red x, it doesn't display a blank area the size of the picture that should be there, it displays the little box with the square, circle and triangle in it. The trust center option to show place holders remains UNchecked, the Secure Temp folder was emptied of the few small files it contained, and it is empty as we speak. I am not blocking external content that I am aware of, or I would expect to be offered the 'download pictures' option which I am not. I do get an option at the top that says if the page doesn't display correctly click here to display in a web browser, if that offers any clues. The first time this occurred I restored to an earlier point which resolved the issue but I don't view that as a long term solution - having to restore to an earlier point after every MS Windows Update. Any ideas? I would appreciate any help offered as I get more frustrated each day.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Was the new ie installed in the update? We've seen issues with pictures in outlook after it was installed. Deleting the secure temp key from the registry and letting outlook recreate it works for most people.

  10. Bruce says

    Neither of the last two series of automatic updates loaded a new version of IE, only security updates to it. Deleting the SecureTempKey entry in the Registry had no effect and I had already made sure the folder was empty earlier. Still no pictures just the little boxes showing the tiny square, circle and triangle. I notice though that after removing the registry key that it has not been recreated by Outlook. So at this point I'm not sure I even have a secure temp folder. Is there something I need to do to have Outlook recreate it so I haven't taken a step backward while trying to resolve the MS issue?


  11. Jim Kout says

    I read all of the interconnected articles and replies concerning this situation about not being able to see pictures within emails -- a problem that just started for me a week or so ago. Very frustrating.............. Anyway, none of the discussed options helped -- and I did try them. Have no idea why -- I'm not a computer genius but above average in my ability to find and fix problems. Anyway, I decided to do a 'repair' with the original MS Office 2007 disk set. I was apprehensive and hoped it wouldn't screw up my Outlook -- but, I didn't really see any other option. Surprise, it worked like a champ. I didn't have to do anything except start it and it completed the 'repair' with total automation. My Outlook 2007 works very well again and all photos are where they should be. The 'repair' function did it's job. Surprised that no one else has discussed this option. I have used it before for other problems over the years with MS Office 2007. It seems to be a good capability provided by MS. Anyway, hope it may work for someone else. Take care. jim

  12. William Powell says

    I have had this issue pop-up also. I'm running Windows 7 SP1 64bit, Office 2010, IE 9. After tryiong all the fixes here and elsewhere including Microsoft Fixit. Then I started after seeing a discussion on anoither site about Group Policy., it got me thining about people updating to IE 10 or getting MS Updates abd havinf this issue start. MS is famous for rseting preferences to to default with many of their updates. So I started looking and behold in IE-Internet Options- Advanced; under Security "Do not save encryptedpPages to disk" was check, which I do not set. I unchecked this Apply and Ok'ed in IE; restarted Outlook and problem fixed. Ok everyone collectively let's all say "Thank you Microsoft" Hope this helps

    • Chuck Miller says

      Eureka!!! I have been looking for a resolution to the missing picture for the longest time. I'd see it on the web (Chrome) in gmail, but not in Outlook. Your suggestion of the change in my IE settings did the trick. Thanks very much.

  13. William Powell says

    I too tried everything here and elsewhere. I figured it out. This seems to have started with either a MS Patch/Update or an upgrade to IE 10. MS is notorious for resetting configurations during patches anbd updates/ In IE goto Internet Options-Advanced; look under Security for "Do not save encrypted files to disk". Untick this setting and Apply. Restart Outlook and you should be fixed.

  14. Bruce says

    This had no effect. However, the article found by using the link mentions several times that it is addressing the red x issue, and does not mention the issue I've said I have, which is not the square with a red x but rather a square with a little triangle, circle and square inside. So perhaps the issues are not similar enough to be resolved the same?

    • Diane Poremsky says

      I missed that important piece of information, sorry. That icon is the "broken picture" one. It often means the picture is not available on the web server. Are all pictures like this or just some?

  15. Bruce says

    All pictures in any Outlook email are like that. Although when I click on the 'broken picture' icon it will normally display the picture. When this originally began it was after an MS update that included something like a dozen updates. Using a restore point to return to a state before the update seemed to correct the issue. But not surprisingly the following update which included additional updates as well as the ones backed out by using restore, caused a return of the problem.

  16. Christine says

    Hi there!
    I'm taking you way back, I hope.

    I stayed with Outlook 2003 (sp3) because I disliked the new layouts, etc., I have a new computer, but after my installation of O03 then Word/Excel 10, Outlook is not displaying images at all, just as attachments. I've got all the proper settings unchecked, but no go.

    Any advice?

  17. Christine says

    Yes, it did work for years. Which is why I even bother to be fussy about it. I guess it's a trade-off for me, though. No pics, but the layout of Outlook I still like. Go figure.

    Yes, I did all the deleting of Temp files, compacted, deleted extra folders with mail from 2002, all kinds of things to make everything less cumbersome. C'est la vie. Hoped there might be something I hadn't thought of.

    Appreciate the response.

  18. Paula says

    I tried everything you mentioned, and I still have a few emails where I cant see the pictures... the weird thing is that it is only for few of them (sometimes I don't get the X but a square with a couple of shapes in it)... what should I do? Thanks in advance for your advice!! (I have outlook 13 and Windows 7), my outlook is connected to a acct...

  19. Clarence says

    Unchecking the "Picture Placeholder" helped but now the picture boxes all have the red "x" in the squares and the only option is "Copy" not "Show Pictures." HELP!

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Did you try any thing else ? The red x means the temp cache folder is corrupt, either outlook's folder or the windows folder.

  20. Kate says

    My issue is related but not directly on point with previous questions and comments. I receive graphics and images in my incoming email messages, but when I "select all" > "copy" and "paste" into a 2010 Word doc, the text transfers but there is the four cornered place holder box in place of the image.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Did you check the picture placeholder setting in Word's File, Options, Advanced dialog? It sounds like Show Picture Placeholders is checked.

  21. Hilary Pedder says

    Excellent!! Many, many thanks, William, you are a star. This has worked a treat for me.

    I have spent hours over the last few months trying every suggested solution posted in various forums and in microsoft's own help pages and had no success. I knew there had to be a solution because the images used to appear.

    Thank you!!


    Windows 7 SP1 32bit, Office 2007, IE 9

  22. Ed Erris says

    I noticed the missing pictures following a major Windows update (patch Tuesday Feb 11). In addition IE wouldn't connect to the internet. I found that my Norton Internet Security program did not start after a reboot with the update. Starting it allowed internet traffic to resume and Outlook again started downloading images.

  23. Mick B says

    In IE go to Internet Options-Advanced; look under Security for Do not save encrypted files to disk. Untick this setting and Apply. Restart Outlook and you should be fixed.

    Ace, this worked for me. Been trying to figure that out for ages. THANKS !

  24. Geek Girl says

    Here's what worked for me:

    1. Open Internet Explorer.
    2. Click Tools -> Internet Options -> Advanced tab.
    3. Scroll down to Browsing.
    4. Select the check box for Empty Temporary Internet Files folder when browser is closed.
    5. Click OK.
    6. Close IE.
    7. Close Outlook 2013.
    8. Open Outlook 2013.

    • Geek Girl says

      Yes, I tried all of the suggestions in this and other threads. I even disabled IE from the control panel, increased the cache size, and changed the registry keys. I thought it might be the cache because I'd be able to see the images in one or two emails, but then no others unless I ran cleanup again.

      I was not able to delete the Temporary Internet Files folder, but I was able to move it and that seems to have fixed the images in all of my emails. Hooray! I haven't tried rebooting yet to see if it sticks.

      I created a folder called New Temporary Internet Files in the same folder as the Temporary Internet Files folder (C:\Users\username\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows).

      Then go to Control Panel > Internet Options > General Tab > Settings Button > Move Folder Button > Navigate to the new folder > click OK.

      After pointing to the new folder, the system logged me off. When logged back in I can see the images again.

      I'll reboot now and see if it sticks.

      Thanks everyone for posting suggestions.

  25. Don Christopher says

    I was able to resolve this in Outlook 2010 and Windows 7 by repairing Office.
    Control Panel
    Programs and Features
    Microsoft Office Home and Business 2010

  26. Jamie says

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!! I have been trying to fix the lack of visibility of html's in my email for months! Your directions for Outlook 2010 worked! That was the first time I had seen the directions involving an opening of a new email and adjusting those options. Awesome! Thanks so much (again)! Jamie

  27. Donald says

    hi sir
    my problem is the outlook 2007
    the attached images is not seen in the email inbox
    please help me XD

    thank you

  28. Michelle R says

    Thank you! For months IT has been trying to get my pictures to show with no luck. Today I found this site and your solution #2 worked!
    Again, thank you!

  29. David Gauld says

    Hi. We seem to be seeing the same issue. I have one user out of 300 who cannot see the pictures of out people inside the company. I've tired all the suggestions noted in this blog and nothing has worked for him. We are using Outlook 2013 Professional Plus connected to Exchange 2007. Everyone else in the company is working with no issues. His workstation was just replace two or three months ago and his Microsoft Social connector was working just fine up until today that is.

    There have been no Microsoft Security updates installed or other software. This is proving to be very frustrating to figure out and resolve. All he sees now is the box with a white image where the persons picture should be. I've checked like I was saying all the options listed here and nothing has helped. So I'm hopeing that someone else might have a suggestion.

    Thanks for any advice!!
    David G.

    • Ashley Tsuki Neko Fain says

      Found solution that works!


      In Outlook 2010 you need to follow these steps to enable images to be seen in emails.

      From the ribbon select Files > Options.

      When the Options window opens, select Trust Center from the left side of the window.

      From the right side of the page, click the Trust Center Setting... button.

      From the left side of the page, select Automatic Download.

      Finally, on the right side uncheck the box next to Don’t download pictures automatically in HTML e-mail messages or RSS items.

      Click OK as needed to save your changes.

      Once your change is saved, Outlook 2010 will automatically download images for all of your mail and RSS feeds."

  30. Kajowas says

    I faced a very subtle problem that caused the same behaviour: images are all displayed with red X.

    The problem was related to the change of the hard disk with a cloned image of the Win7 partition.

    I solved reinstalling the Intel Rapid Storage Drivers and magically (yes, exactly) all issued are dissappeared.

    In particular I had update service not working, indexing service not working, outlook with that problem, and different other minor bugs...

    It took me 4 hours to solve it (I was very near the idea of formatting everything...) so I think it should be helpful to know:

    This link helped me to go on the right way:

    • Mike L says

      Thank you so much for posting this. I tried all the other fixes in this thread and thought I was doomed. I have been trying to solve this problem all week. Uninstalling/Reinstalling intel rapid storage solved the Outlook red X image problem. After reading your post, I realized that my problem started after I cloned my 1TB drive to a new 2 TB, then I checked and found out Windows update also wasn't working, Who knew they were related ?

  31. Andrew says

    Are you married? If not, let me take your hand -- you solved this for me (it was the IE setting) after weeks of going nuts.

  32. Jenna White says

    I have the same issue, however I have a problem! I do not have a Show placeholders option in Outlook 2010 under the Mail - Editor Options - Advanced. Is it anywhere else? I thought perhaps a group policy might remove it, but seems odd that we would have one that does.

    • Diane Poremsky says

      Are you looking at the File, options menu of an open message? You'll have different options between the main outlook window and message.

  33. Dave says

    OMG it worked! After trying 4-5 other suggested fixes which did not work, I followed your Checking the Picture Placeholder setting instructions. "Note that this dialog is accessible from a COMPOSE MESSAGE window, not the main Outlook window!" Diabolical! I would never have found this. Thank you.

  34. David says

    Had the same problem. Searched for, found and tried all of the suggestions out there. None worked. Saw a comment that Outlook uses Internet Explorer to display images. Said if IE is broken that will cause lack of image problem in Outlook. Running W7 Enterprise and IE11. Uninstalled IE11. The uninstall automatically reverted to IE9. While I did not want that to happen, could not control it. The uninstall automatically reverts. In any event, opened Outlook and it works perfectly. As an aside, I also found that problems I was having in other IE related matters also were solved. As in trying to view IP Camera images on IE. This is what you need to do solve the problem. Wanted to share as so many of you have been kind enough to offer your suggestions.

  35. Nick (@Kew_Nick) says

    Oh gee... I've been exasperated by this for months. I tried the "Picture placeholders" solution, making sure to open a new email, and then to make the changes, then close it. Then I closed Outlook 2013 and I CAN NOW SEE THE PICTURES!
    Thank you for your help and for posting this solution :)

  36. Tamimii says

    at last it worked for me
    thanks a lot
    new email check place holders then close email then close out look
    then start outlook then new email then uncheck placeholder close email close outlook
    start outlook then it worked

  37. peter563 says

    I have read some of the replies but not all so may have missed an obvious solution.
    My images were downloading until recently then stopped - but no idea what I have done (not aware of anything)
    When I close an email after having said download images - Outlook thinks that is what it has done because it states that the email has changed and asks me do I want to save the changes
    I use Firefox or opera and occasionally Chrome NOT IE?!
    Tried navigating through to 'uncheck the box' show picture placeholders and like many others it wasn't checked
    No idea what to do an obviously not a critical element
    I have the OUTLOOK installation cd/dvd is a reinstall worth considering?

  38. BobbyC says

    Tried everything suggested for Outlook 2010. Finally did the repair. Worked like a (Lucky) Charm !! Thanks to all.

  39. Steve Ford says

    Yeah, after three hours on phone with Microsoft and still no resolution, but several other things screwed up. they referred me to 2nd level support for next day. They called back and said they could not troubleshoot it at that time could they reschedule.. I told them know. This fixed my problem. thanks for your help!

  40. Drew says

    I have an issue in Outlook 2007 where in some instances I get a link to an image rather the image itself eg: cid:image002.jpg@01D05B16.CE038650

    Can anyone advise on how to have the image displayed?

    PS. I am not suffering from the Red X problem.

    • Diane PoremskyDiane Poremsky says

      is the image attached to the message? Was the message forwarded? The CID images are embedded images and the code after the @ is what outlook uses to place it. This usually changes in a forward.

  41. SwIFT says

    I use browser-based as well as the e-mail client and cannot recall contact's display pictures ever showing? I don't think they will show in my e-mail client because they're not showing at, I've checked multiple accounts on multiple devices and followed these set of instructions.. I really love outlook but this is bugging me any suggestions?

    • Diane PoremskyDiane Poremsky says

      The instructions on this page is for images embedded in messages, not contact photos. If the contacts at don't have photos, they won't display in outlook (unless you are signed in to Facebook, then you'll get the profile pictures.)

      Outlook has an option to not show contact photos - go to file, options, people (or contacts in 2010) and see if contact photos is enabled at the bottom of the dialog. Screenshot here:

      As far as i know, you can't turn images off in, other than to turn them off in all browser pages.

  42. smscott317SS says

    Your instructions are helpful. Thanks. However, you leave out a really important point. You say:

    1.Click the New Email button or press Ctrl+N while viewing the Inbox.
    2.Go to the new message's File, Options dialog.
    3.Click Mail, then Editor Options
    4.Select Advanced and look near the bottom of the dialog for the option to Show Picture Placeholders.
    5.Close the dialog then close the message.

    You don't say what to do after you 'look near the bottom of the dialog for the option to Show Picture Placeholders'. Thankfully the comments make it clear that the option should be unchecked. It would be great if you could say that in your main text.


    • Diane PoremskyDiane Poremsky says

      Thanks for pointing that out. Somehow that line was removed when I copied and edited the instructions from earlier versions.

  43. APBA says

    Hi, I have outlook 2007 and W7. Just about a week ago, the pictures did not display in outlook in spite of downloading them, just the dreadful red X could be seen. After checking out everything out in the forum, my problem was that the size of my temporary internet file (IE 11) was somehow set to 0. Tried to increase to 8, as the system indicated, but I could not save the change. Like somebody suggested up above, I moved the file location and voila, it accepted immediately the increase in size, and I could, once again, see pictures embedded in the e-mail text. Thanks, it was really annoying.

  44. UPEU says

    Thank you so much. I read a lot about messing with the registry, setting up a complete new profile and other rather invasive suggestions, but YOUR first piece of advice just worked the magic. Although I do not use IE I changed that setting according to your hint and Outlook now displayed all of the images in my e-mails. I was well worth having looked a bit further and not try those more serious "fixes". Keep the good work up, pleaaaaase!

  45. ComTech says

    Thank you!!! that solved a problem that I have had for at least two months!!!! much appreciated!!!!

  46. Sandra says

    None of these have helped me. Some of the suggestions will change the icon shown from the broken picture to the red x or just an empty outlined box. I even have some icons changing when Outlook is re-opened. The first icon is the usually the broken picture and if I scroll down the preview pane and back up, it changes to the red x.
    I've tried all the solutions listed above and some I found on other websites including disabling all add ins, changing settings in IE, changing the settings in a new email, changing settings in Outlook, but I continue to get icons for pictures. Currently I'm back to getting the broken picture icon that changes to the red x when scrolled past or clicked on.
    If anyone comes up with another solution to try, please let me know.

  47. Dan Richards says

    I had this issue and removing the align tag fixed my problem. The align html attribute, not css property.

Leave a Reply

Please post long or more complicated questions at OutlookForums by

If the Post Comment button disappears, press your Tab key.