Apple states the following about their Mail Privacy Protection feature:

The Mail app can help protect your privacy. Email messages you receive may include remote content that allows a sender to collect information when you view a message, such as when and how many times you view it, whether you forward it, your IP address, and other data. Mail Privacy Protection prevents senders from learning your information.


When this option is selected, your IP address is hidden from senders and remote content is privately downloaded in the background when you receive a message (instead of when you view it).


I can't find more detailed information on it, but as far as I understand they download all attachments on a proxy / cache when you receive a mail and you as a user get it from their proxy / cache when you open the mail.

This seems way more dangerous to me than just blocking all remote content in my client and filtering malicious mails for phishing and malware on my own. How do I know the cached data Apple provides me via its Mail Privacy Protection feature when I open a mail is not malicious?

  • 3
    You seem to be conflating two issues - privacy & malware awareness. The two are not related.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Nov 15, 2021 at 17:30
  • I can choose between privacy protection and disabling remote content in messages in the mail app, so that's why I'm comparing the safety of these two options.
    – dabo248
    Commented Nov 15, 2021 at 18:00
  • 1
    You can view the remote content without the sender knowing who viewed it [privacy], or you can block it all & have no malware worries [security]. You still can't do both. They are not related.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Nov 15, 2021 at 18:11
  • 1
    Thanks for clarifying, thought I missed something.
    – dabo248
    Commented Nov 15, 2021 at 18:14

1 Answer 1


Mail Privacy Protection protects your privacy by fetching content linked to mails only once (so senders don‘t see your IP and also don‘t see how often you access certain content or how long it takes you to access content once you‘ve received a mail).

It doesn’t protect against malicious content behind such links, so you may still get viruses and malware through attachments or mail links.

  • That's the point: each of us receives malicious emails with contaminated attachments every day. According to the "Privacy Protection" description, Apple Mail would simply download them through their proxy / cache onto my system? This automatic download should have an opt-out as well, similar to the "Block All Remote Content" one can use when "Privacy Protection" is disabled.
    – dabo248
    Commented Nov 15, 2021 at 18:06
  • @dabo248 If you block all content, there probably is less need for Privacy Protection. But agreed, a combination of both would be useful sometimes.
    – nohillside
    Commented Nov 15, 2021 at 19:33
  • Don't understand this: if the remote content is fetched, once, then ''this once' IP & its time' do 'get out'? (As I understand your description: Mail fetches it once, so the time diff is visible; or is a service used to always gather stuff immediately on send, rather than receive?) Or is this through some kind of proxying, like a remail, exposing all these details to the remailer? Also: what's "linked to mails"? Embedded remote stuff (through links) in mails, I guess? Commented Nov 15, 2021 at 23:58
  • @langlangc According to the document linked in the question, all links referenced by Mail directly (e.g. to fetch images) are protected, and accessed by Apple/Privacy Relay on behalf of the user.
    – nohillside
    Commented Nov 16, 2021 at 5:56
  • The document linked in the question says nothing about Apple/Privacy Relay accessing the e-mail. What is says instead is that "remote content" (whatever that is) is "privately downloaded in the background" (whatever that means). Commented Sep 14, 2023 at 15:12

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