Pictures don't display in Outlook messages

Last reviewed on January 11, 2014

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. 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.

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.

Written by

Diane Poremsky
A Microsoft Outlook Most Valuable Professional (MVP) since 1999, Diane is the author of several books, including Outlook 2013 Absolute Beginners Book. She also created video training CDs and online training classes for Microsoft Outlook. You can find her helping people online in Outlook Forums as well as in the Microsoft Answers and TechNet forums.

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