Mail on Apple Watch no longer leaks IP addresses with privacy features enabled

Mail on Apple Watch
Mail on Apple Watch (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • Apple has fixed a watchOS 8 issue that caused Mail to leak IP addresses when loading images.
  • The new watchOS 8.5 update fixes the privacy issue and is available for download now.
  • Mail Privacy Protection is available across Apple's platforms.

The newly-released watchOS 8.5 update appears to fix a problem that previously allowed the Mail app on Apple Watches to leak a user's IP address even with Mail Privacy Protection enabled.

The issue was first noted late last year. Mail Privacy Protection is supposed to prevent third-party servers from identifying a user's IP address when they load an image in an email. That wasn't happening on Apple Watches — until this week's watchOS 8.5 update.

With watchOS 8.5 installed Mail will now block images automatically and then prompt people to download remote images as required. There is also a new option to do so automatically or to ask each time an email is available to be downloaded.

Here's how Apple describes its 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.

Apple's Mail Privacy Protection was first introduced alongside iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS Monterey towards the end of last year and now appears to function correctly across all platforms — iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Note that this feature only works with the official Mail app, however.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.