The Chrome extension Streak for Gmail claims that they can track emails and I assume that then it works from Gmail to Gmail too (EDIT: not, see answer below).

As far as I know, email tracking works either

  1. using images (typically transparent 1x1 pixel etc.), or
  2. with the active involvement of the reading client (e.g. Exchange read receipts).

As Streak is not a Google product I'd rule out #2, and #1 should be out because Google claims:

Senders can’t use image loading to get information like your IP address or location.

source: https://support.google.com/mail/answer/145919?hl=en

So I wonder how Streak works? And then, how to disable someone else tracking me?


2 Answers 2


Based on information from their site it appears that they are using 1st method. Especially after reading the following

Justin W2 weeks ago 
support@streak says: 
Gmail recently made a change that causes image requests to 
lose all their identifying information. What this means is 
that email opens from a Gmail account will show up as anonymous.

Found at http://blog.streak.com/2013/11/unlimited-email-tracking-for-gmail-with.html

This means that whoever opens your email has download images disabled that will mean that tracking fails. In case of another Gmail subscriber reading the message Google will automatically protect their information.

So to prevent people from tracking you make sure to disable automatic picture download.

Than I would take advice from Google when you go Incognito mode, this relates to websites, ads and etc tracking you not other people using streak.

Going incognito doesn't affect the behavior of other people, servers, or software. Be wary of:

  • Websites that collect or share information about you
  • Internet service providers or employers that track the pages you visit
  • Malicious software that tracks your keystrokes in exchange for free smileys
  • Surveillance by secret agents
  • People standing behind you
  • Ah thanks for finding this quote, do you also have the link to it? -- Now either their whole feature is crippled now (gmail-to-gmail) or I still don't understand. -- Actually Gmail claims that you are protected even if you don't disable auto pic download, via their proxy. -- I am unsure why incognito mode is relevant here, that is about leaving traces on the computer you are using, not towards the network. Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 19:38
  • Yes, you are reading right their whole feature is now crippled. It only works on other platforms that allow that information to go back to server. As far as Incognito mode, it is just in general reference of tracking on internet. Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 19:44
  • Alright. So I guess the answer is that it does NOT work towards Gmail (or most clients that warn you before downloading images). Then in my view the whole feature is a scam -- luckily. Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 19:45

I don't have the reputation points to reply to SaUce's answer but there are some things to add.

  1. It still works. Yes, views show up as anonymous, however one can still see what type of device and how many unique views an email got. So what if you can't see the name of who viewed your email- chances are (surprise) it's the person you sent the email to. Since you can see unique users its still possible to see how widely your recipient has shared your message, again, you won't know their names.

  2. Concur that tracking is via image downloads. Verified by test emails to a friend.

  • Thanks for the details! To me this is disapppointing mainly related to Google's implementation of their image proxy: I was hoping they'd download the image once and when it gets to their servers, and not every time someone opens it. But on second thought maybe they need to allow the image to be updated in between. Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 14:27
  • Disappointing indeed. I am disappointed that Google told all their customers that images are now "safe". Most users likely do not know that images still let a sender see when, how many times, what device and approximate location from where a email was viewed. Commented Feb 19, 2014 at 15:16

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