Unable to load remote content privately

How to fix: Unable to load remote content privately. Your network preferences prevent content from loading privately in Mac and iOS Mail.

If you have upgraded your iPhone and computer to the new iOS 15 and macOS 12, you may have noticed a problem with images in emails.
I’m not talking about evil spammers, I mean legitimate emails from your colleagues. Their email signatures are gone and replaced with a message from Apple that could say: Unable to load remote content privately. OR Your network preferences prevent content from loading privately in Mac and iOS Mail.

UPDATE:

After experimenting more, we discovered we could get our email signature working again with Mail Privacy Protection enabled.
This was done by replacing and pasting our email signature HTML back into the signature area after turning on the feature.
We did this successfully in Mac Mail and iOS Mail. Our company has chosen to leave the feature turned off because we have Proofpoint to protect us.

Most people may find this article from Apple: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT212797 it states that it is because you may be using a VPN. Most users posting on forums are saying they are NOT using a VPN. The article also says that you can simply tap to load the images. That is not working for many people. We tried this with our Mac Mail after the upgrade. We had the same issue. Tapping to load our email signature images did nothing. We noticed the same issue on iOS with our iPhone.

So we reached out to Apple Support for some official advice.

Apple:
With regards to this one, it seems like the issue isn’t with the iCloud private relay. The reason for this is because the issue is happening with the mail. That means it is the privacy protection for the mail app.

Carey Balboa:
Ok how to fix?

Apple:
For this one, please go to Settings > Mail > Privacy Protection > turn off “Protect Mail Activity”.
Normally this isn’t an issue. It’s just a notification from the mail app that the email might not be protected.

Carey Balboa:
Ah ok so basically the feature to protect our privacy is broken

Apple:
Oh, when you said broken why’s that? 

Carey Balboa:
For thousands of users as seen online

Apple:
Ahhh I understand.

Carey Balboa:
So the solution is to turn off the feature?

Apple:
Yup! 

Carey Balboa:
So then as I said the mail protection feature is broken and the official advice is to turn it off?

Apple:
Yup if you don’t want the message for the mail app to show up, it’s best to turn off this feature.
This is created by Apple so that the mail app can mask your IP address whenever you’re sending or receiving emails.

Carey Balboa:
Ok, I’ll turn it off and instruct users on our blog that is the official advice from Apple until they can fix the issue.
Yes but it is supposed to also still be able to download images

Apple:
For sure! Thanks for the heads up with this. 

Carey Balboa:
Ok, thank you for your help.

Mail Privacy Protection from Apple is simply not ready for market.

How to turn off Mail Privacy Protection

Time needed: 1 minute.

How to turn off Mail Privacy Protection

  1. In the Mac Mail app Open Preferences from the drop-down menus.

    Go to the privacy tab and turn off the feature. Uncheck all three.Unable to load remote content privately

  2. On your iPhone Go to Settings  > Mail > Privacy Protection.

    Turn off the feature.turn off Mail Privacy Protection

After turning off the feature you will need to reboot and re-paste your HTML email signature into the Mac Mail and iOS Mail preferences.

We do believe that when this feature is market-ready that it will be a great tool to fight against hacker evil.
It’s just not ready yet.
“Security is not secure when users can’t use.”

3 thoughts on “Unable to load remote content privately”

  1. Bryan Davies

    Thank you. This was unbelievably irritating. Your site was the first one I found that correctly addressed it.

  2. I appreciate you taking the time to chat with Apple support. I would otherwise have done that at some point. And thanks for pasting the original chat conversation, as this provides a realistic image of what has been conveyed to you. Nuances in communication can be important with this kind of issues… My impression from the chat conversation is that the support agent is not very knowledgable regarding the issue. It seems that s/he didn’t understand your “provocation” when you said “the mail protection feature is broken and the official advice is to turn it off?”. But I may be wrong. Support agents are trained to get rid of the users problem as quickly as possible and the quickest solution here is obviously to turn the feature off and if the user accepts it as a solution, the agent’s job is done. So, I wonder what would have happened if you didn’t accept “turning the feature off” as a solution?

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