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Can't paste an image into email?

11/15/2021

Have you ever copied an image from a website, but could not paste it into an email? You right click the image and select copy, but when you paste it, you just see a blank placeholder. The problem may be your email client. Your email client is the app that you use to compose, read, and send email. Some popular email clients are GMail, Apple iPhone, Outlook, and Yahoo Mail.

Links vs base64 encoding

We always have the option to attach an image, but usually we want to show that image just at the appropriate point in our email. If the image is actually a link to an image file - like https://example.com/bliue-car.jpg. there is no problem pasting it in. However, sometimes, the picture on that website may not be a link, but instead has been encoded into text. If you view the html (right-click, inspect), you will see something like "src="data:image/png;base64,iVBORw0KGgoAAAAN.........". This is called base64 encoding and email clients address this in different ways.

Read More.

Pasting a base64 encoded image into Gmail will cause Gmail to convert it into a link on the Google server. You will then see the image appear as you expect it in your draft email and none of your sendees will have any trouble reading your email. However, other email clients, as for example, many webmail clients that come with internet service providers or web hosting providers, will refuse to paste it and will just show you a blank placeholder.

Copy/paste work-arounds

If copy/paste does not work, many email clients have "insert image" functions. This means you have to download the images from your selected website before using the insert function. Copy and paste would have been so much easier.

Another solution is to right click to open just the image in a new tab or window. This converts the image to a link and allows you to copy/paste.

It may seem like an easy fix to just do a print screen and then control-V to paste it in your email. The image will indeed appear, but unless you are using an email client like GMail that converts it to a link, you will be sending the image as raw base64 encoded data. When your sendee who uses Gmail receives your message, he will see not an image, but will instead see what appears to be a string of meaningless letters which are, in fact, the base64 encoded version that Gmail does not have the capability to unencode.

Email messages have the potential to carry viruses and so a little extra work on our part makes things a little safer.

Today Data and Web Services, Inc.

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