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Don’t Use Images in Gmail’s signature!

09 August 2010 Posted by in category: Internet tools with Tags , , ,

About a month ago Google add a new feature to Gmail – rich signatures. Among other design capabilities, the new feature lets you add images (or icons) to your signature. Now, there is a really big problem with the way images are added to the signature.

Images might change

Instead of just uploading an image and adding it to the email, when you create your rich signature you are asked to give a link to the image (see screenshot below). The link is of a web address, not a location on your computer. When you send an email, the link is a live link.Gmail's dialog box for adding image to the signature. Only Web address filed is available.

This mean that whenever someone opens an email you sent, the image is retrieved from it's original location on the web. If the image changed in the meantime – your recipient will see the changed image, and if it no longer exists – he will see no image at all.

This is a Huge problem!  You can't really be safe when using images in your signature: If you host the images on your servers – you will have to keep them alive forever, and if you link to someone else's image (say, on Flickr) – they might decide to change it or remove it one day.

I discovered it the hard way

After using a rich signature for about a month, I noticed that one of the images I used have changed on all the emails I sent(!). It changed to a huge, gray image saying that the the trial period of the image hosting has ended! this happened because I used a link I got from a chrome extension that takes a screenshot and automatically uploads it to the web. It seams that the image was only hosted for a short time. Of course, I did not know that the image is not beeing actually added to the emails I send…

3 Responses to “Don’t Use Images in Gmail’s signature!”

  1. james 9 August 2010 at 10:39 am (PERMALINK)

    I don't understand your point. If you want to use an image, of course you need to make sure it is available online. How hard can it be to host an image somewhere (use flickr, a free blog, or whatever)? As Google implied in the instructions: "using others' images on the web without their permission may be bad manners…". Also, if the image was embedded in the email and not retrieved online there would be an option to upload it from your PC, which is clearly not the case.

    • Eyal Sela 9 August 2010 at 11:29 am (PERMALINK)

      Well, as of itself it’s not a bad thing to offer web based images.

      The problem is Gmail’s implementation, which does not emphasize that the images are not being uploaded – just linked to the source.

      I did not realize that this was the case, so I put a link to an image, assuming the source does not matter (and as they suggested, I did not link to someone else’s image).

  2. ceops 24 August 2010 at 10:29 pm (PERMALINK)

    i think you have to upload you photo on your picassa album it will never expire period and will be more secure.