Apple’s New Mail Privacy Protection

September 27, 2021

What You Need to Know


In June, Apple announced new privacy protections which are meant to help users better control and manage access to their data. One of the main changes is Mail Privacy Protection, which prevents “senders from knowing when they open an email and masks their IP address so it can’t be linked to other online activity or used to determine their location.”

This will limit the accuracy of reporting metrics for email marketers, including:

  • Whether/when an email has been opened
  • Where a contact is located when they open your message
  • The type of device and email client a contact is using when they open your message


How will this affect reporting?

Let’s get technical for just a second. Currently, email marketing platforms place a small, transparent image (which isn’t visible in the email) into each email campaign. When a recipient opens the email, the pixel will load.

But, if a contact has Apple Mail Privacy Protection enabled, Apple Mail will preload pixels, even if the contact hasn’t opened the email. In other words, regardless of whether a contact on your mailing list has actually opened your email, it will be reported as “opened” (if they have Apple Mail Privacy Protection enabled), resulting in inflated and inaccurate open rates.

Bottom line: If your audience makeup is skewed toward Apple Mail users, your open rate will be over-inflated come this fall. Consider using different metrics to track the performance and efficacy of your email marketing efforts, most notably click rates.

Other Information to Consider

Some slightly positive news is that Mail Privacy Protection will not be turned on by default for Apple Mail users – they will have to actively “opt in.” Unfortunately, it’s likely most people will choose the option they feel is going to protect them from marketing/unwanted emails.

It’s also important to note that this will affect any email opened from the Apple Mail app – regardless of device or which email service is being used. However, this shouldn’t affect other email apps used on Apple devices (e.g., Gmail or Yahoo mail apps).

For up-to-date information as this situation evolves, we recommend you check the website of your email marketing platform and this regularly updated article from Litmus.