Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Disable the Preview Pane For Safer Computing & Less Spam*

Disable the Preview Pane For Safer Computing & Less Spam

[note: if you are looking to see who won this week’s contest, click here.]

A recent article on spam (e-mail) prompted a reader to send in this good question,

Q: “Hi Paul –
You wrote “don’t even open e-mail from unknown sources.. doing so can/will mark your e-mail address as a “live” person, …”.
How do we delete without opening a specific email message?   Even while deleting in bulk the first email in the highlighted selections opens.  I’m using Outlook Express.  Thanks for your help!

* What is being referred to is the feature common to e-mail clients called the “Preview Pane”.”

A: Dear Reader–
You’re correct that most webmail settings, and e-mail clients, (by default) have what is called a “preview pane”, which opens the first (topmost/most recent) e-mail in your Inbox, and shows you the first few lines of the e-mail. Yes.. this will trigger whatever the spammers/hackers are using to verify receipt (such as downloading an invisible jpeg). Because of this, I always turn the Preview Pane off.oe_new
To do this in OE, click on the View menu and select Layout.
Then in the Preview Pane Properties, uncheck the “Show preview pane” checkbox.

BTW– by exploring Properties/Options/Settings/Preferences (different names for the same thing), you can disable the preview pane in every e-mail viewer.. (i.e., Thunderbird), and webmail (i.e., Hotmail, Gmail, etc).

Tip of the day: While many people find the preview window a convenient way to skim their incoming mail, using it automatically opens your machine up to security risks — especially if you are allowing HTML, and/or images, as the OE pictured above does — and tells anyone who’s interested that yes, is a valid address: suitable for spamming.
The spammers (and advertisers) collect lists of these validated addresses and sell them to each other.

I advise disabling the feature, and doing without the ’speed enhancement’ of previewing. Doing so will reduce the amount of spam you receive, improve your privacy, and close the door on one of the methods hackers can use to infect your machine.

Today’s free download: Open Office A new version of very popular free office suite is now available. Support for Office 2007 formatting and improved PDF creation in Writer highlight the big additions for business users. A new Start Center provides a launching pad and makes it easier to switch between tools.

Copyright 2007-2010 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.

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June 25, 2010 - Posted by | advice, computers, e-mail, Internet, privacy, spam and junk mail | , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Regarding the article about minimizing spam, an old trick that has worked for me for many years is to create a bogus name as the first name on the contacts list in any email client. For instance the most effective one is
    Name: !000
    Email address:
    It has the advantage of foiling the spammers and you will be notified by Mail Daemon or Postmaster that mail is undeliverable.

    I have over 60 accounts with nearly 2000 contacts and rarely ever get spam.


    Comment by Skykisser | June 25, 2010 | Reply

    • Skykisser,
      I naturally appreciate any tip that will combat the human plague that is spam and spammers… And I congratulate you on your success…
      … but maybe my thinker unit is not operating at capacity…
      but how would placing a null as a Contact “foil” spammers? (Even in place 0) Or reduce your email addresses from being harvested?
      .. since the mailers are automated, would the spammer care if they collect a non-deliverable address (such as !000)?

      I am not seeing the “trick” here. Help me out.


      Comment by techpaul | June 25, 2010 | Reply

      • I don’t really know, as I understand it if an email isn’t viable the bots leave the account be.

        All I know is that it was a tip on yahoo about 8 years ago and I used it and I have rarely had any spam. I purchase a great many items on line and even so rarely ever get any spam. As I said I have over 60 accounts that I maintain. I wish I was more technically knowledgeable in order to explain why it works all I know is that if isn’t the cause of the scarcity of spam I don’t know what is.
        Perhaps it is the equivalent of placing peanut butter on the bottom of ones sneakers to ward of elephants. All I know is I haven’t had any elephants in a very long time.

        PS: I enjoy the newsletter.


        Comment by Skykisser | June 25, 2010 | Reply

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