In-line images missing in Outlook

Merle Parks wouldn’t be the first person I’ve heard from who’s confounded by a “this works on the Mac but not on a Windows PC” issue. He writes:

Often I get emails that have pictures and text mixed together. If my wife gets one like that on her iMac using Mail, it displays just fine with all the pictures and text in the body of the email. If she sends it to me on my PC using Outlook, all the pictures and text are changed to attachments, and nothing is displayed in the body of the email. As an experiment to determine when it was happening, on the Mac or the PC, I can send an email from the PC, where the pictures and text all show correctly in the body of the email, and when I send it to the Mac, it displays fine. However, when she sends it back to me on the PC, everything has become attachments, and the pictures are duplicated twice, one with the original, and one titled “Unnamed.” We have experimented with the settings on Mac Mail that say they will send emails PC friendly, however, this problem occurs no matter what the settings. Is this a bug, and is it fixed in a newer version?

Although I’m a little embarrassed about troubleshooting what is essentially an Outlook issue, enough people have been stung by this one that I think it’s worth our while.

If you search Outlook’s Help for “view images” and select the “Unblock image downloads in Outlook” entry, you’ll spy this note:

In Outlook, picture attachments cannot be displayed in line in a message body the way they can in Outlook Express.

Moving past the lumpy prose, this hints that this is an Outlook-specific issue. To be sure, I downloaded and installed the Windows version of Mozilla Thunderbird on my PC. I then created a message in Mail that includes an in-line image and mailed it to myself (instructing all my email clients to leave a copy on the server so I could retrieve it with each client).

On my Mac, Mail and Microsoft Entourage displayed the image in-line. On the PC, Outlook offered the image only as an attachment whereas the Windows version of Thunderbird displayed it in-line.

As for the double-attachment quirk, if you add one of Mail’s signatures to your message, it creates an additional attachment in messages received by Outlook.

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