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How to block Yesware from tracking you

Eye See You One of my Friday Favourites in 2013 was the tool Yesware. If you’re not familiar with Yesware, then it allows you to track and analyse emails that you’ve sent to others. Integrating with Gmail, it quickly shows you whether somebody has opened your email and clicked on any links within said email.

This is very handy if you work in sales. You can know when a prospect has received an email, opened it, which links they’ve shown an interest in and more. I don’t use Yesware myself – but I can appreciate how powerful it is.

But I’m sort of creeped out by the idea that people could use Yesware to track when I open emails they’ve sent to me. I don’t really want people knowing what hours I keep, or why I’ve not responded to their email immediately upon reading it. At best it feels awkward, at worst it feels insidious. Ideally, Yesware users would restrict using Yesware to sales prospects – and not friends and family, but doing so is their choice.

With that in mind, here’s how you block Yesware.

How Yesware works

Yesware uses a method similar to MailChimp, Constant Contact and other bulk email services in that it within the email is has sent you, it embeds a transparent, one-pixel image hosted by Yesware. When you open the email sent to you via Yesware, the image is “displayed” and thus Yesware knows when you’ve opened the email.

Further, any links included in Yesware emails that are sent to you are re-directed via Yesware servers when you click on them, before being sent onwards to their original destination. This allows Yesware to know which links you’ve clicked on.

How to Block Yesware

EDIT:- If you’re using Google Mail for your email, then see additional instructions further below.

If you’re a Windows user, then within Windows Explorer browse to the folder C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc\

Make a backup copy of the files “hosts” in case you hit any snags.

Open the file “hosts” within Windows Notepad (or any other text editor). The hosts file contains mappings of IP addresses to hostnames, and for most users, should be blank (other than the instructions contained within the file).

At the end of the file, add two new lines:-

  • 127.0.0.1 app.yesware.com
  • 127.0.0.1 t.yesware.com

Blocking Yesware in hosts file

(As Yesware develops, it may be they add other addresses – but at the time of writing, those two addresses were the only ones I’ve seen Yesware use)

Click File > Save. If you hit any issues with permissions, then save the file to your Desktop, make sure it doesn’t have a .txt extension (the filename is simply hosts) and then move it manually to replace the original hosts file.

The next time someone sends you an email from Yesware, they should not be able to track when you open the email as we’ve re-directed the embedded image in the email to your local PC, not the Yesware servers.

One caveat here is that any links contained within emails will no longer function correctly, as they’ll error trying to load in your web browser. Simply copy and paste the actual link text and perhaps politely ask the sender to remove you from their Yesware setup as the emails they’re sending you are not working.

How to block Yesware on Android

To block Yesware on your Android Smartphone, you’ll need to have a rooted device and download the free tool Host Editor by Nilhcem.

Once you’ve downloaded and installed Hosts Editor, start the App and it will allow you to edit the hosts file on your Smartphone – preventing Yesware from connecting to its servers.

Within Hosts Editor add the lines

  • 127.0.0.1 app.yesware.com
  • 127.0.0.1 t.yesware.com

Blocking Yesware on Android

And exit the App. Job done!

How to block Yesware on Google Mail

If you’re using Google Mail, then you should be aware that the above Hosts file edits only partially block Yesware. They don’t prevent Yesware receiving notification that you’ve opened the email.

To block Yesware from receiving notifications that you’ve opened the email in Google Mail, you need to turn off automatic display of images for that sender.

Click on the small down arrow underneath the senders name in the email, then next to the “Images from this sender are always displayed.” click the “Don’t display from now on.” link.

Blocking Yesware in Google Mail

Thanks to James Kimbley of Kimbley IT for helping me research this.

Conclusion

I can see the value in Yesware for sales professionals, but I’m a little creeped out by the idea of anyone being able to tell when I open emails.

Using the methods above (and similar methods for other platforms) you can regain your privacy and block Yesware from checking up on you.

 

photo credit: Cayusa via photopin cc

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Richard Tubb

I help IT companies grow their businesses in a scalable and sustainable way. My clients are business owners of small to medium sized IT firms. at Tubblog
Why not find out more about how I can help your business. You can also check which events you can find me at or read one of my books.

Comments

  1. Would this actually prevent Yesware and alternatives working if you use a cloud based email system? I thought the Host file can only block actions originating from the local device.

    • James – thanks for the help in researching how Yesware works with GMail. I can see we have to disable images to prevent being tracked. I appreciate the help and have updated the blog post accordingly!

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