How to display full message & images in Outlook Mail for the Lumia 950, 950 XL, & Windows 10 Mobile

One thing that really annoyed me about Outlook for Windows 10 Mobile is that the emails did not fully show the messages and images. I'd have to click Download message and pictures at the bottom of the emails. I can understand how this can be great for many people trying to save bandwidth, but I want to see the whole message when I open an email. If you feel the same, I'll show you how to change that default behavior.

  1. Open Outlook Mail
  2. Tap the three dots on the lower right corner and select Accounts
  3. Tap your email account and select Change mailbox sync settings
  4. Check the box that says Always download full message and Internet Images
  5. Tap Done and repeat the steps on your other email accounts
  6. Exit and re-open Outlook mail (Press and hold the back button, then swipe down the app to exit)

That's it! You no longer have to click the link at the bottom of every email to read the full message and view images.

Why the setting exists in the first place

You may be wondering why even have this setting at all? Well, there are two reasons, one that reader JTDraper reminds us of in comments:

"When links to pictures are resolved, a request is made to the sender's server, which indirectly acts as a 'receipt.' SPAMmers use these receipts as confirmation that their unsolicited mail is reaching its intended target. The default setting prevents the sender from knowing you've received their email. Ideally, you would delete the email based on the sender name, subject and text and the sender would eventually prune your address from their SPAM list."

So if you have an account that gets spam email it is actually good to have this feature enabled. The second reason is a little more obvious: data. Not everyone has unlimited data and you'd be surprised at the amount you can pull in from email all day. Leaving this setting to limit downloads could make a big difference for those on fixed or pro-rated plans.

What kind of email reader are you? Do you prefer your emails to download the whole message, or do prefer to manually download them? Let us know in the comments!

Mark Guim is Video Editor at Windows Central. He switched to Windows because the MacBook Pro isn't Pro enough. You can follow him on Twitter at @markguim.

69 Comments
  • Setting doesn't always work... Oh wait, this one is different from the one in the settings Pane. They have conflicting descriptions and overlap on functionality. I tired with both settings enabled and it still doesn't automatically pull down the whole message and the images.
  • For some reason, I can modify setting on all of my email accounts, except google. It will not let me Save my changes....
  • Same experience here. It never seems to work, even when I'm on WiFi, which I assume would mean it's more diligent about downloading messages on.
  • Nope. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.
  • Works here. Make sure you are going through the account settings page and not just Options.
  • Inserted pics in emails don't lead at all on the 950.
    There's a long thread about it in the forums.
    Edit: Well after no change and no updates, inserted pics are loading - but not automatically.
  • I double checked those settings and I've it's correct. For some reason, the client doesn't download images all the time. I actually wonder if turning off the setting will work. I know it's backwards but at least I'll be able to force download. See if that works.
  • Daniel, that is where I went and it doesn't work. Also, the download "as items arrive" doesn't work either. I have IMAP so the emails should come immediately but it is clear that they arrive in spurts.
  • I've always thought that Windows Phone many times has a delay in bringing notifications "as they arrive" for all apps.
  • Thank you!!!!
  • On the 950XL the app has problems with the pictures in email. It won't download a single image with either setting enabled (the described one and the one in the settings menu). See the forums for more information as more people have the same problem
  • 950 XL here working for me. Can't see why it'd be an XL issue as it's an OS level thing.
  • It's either an OS issue or and issue with the Outlook app. Regardless of the settings on some devcies it just shows error messages where images should be. So far the only cure seems to be a hard reset. The problem can happen on people who restores from another phone or from people like me who did a clean initial setup. There is no reason I can come up with why it doesn't work after a clean initial setup and then it does work after the hard reset, but there is definitely a problem here. It is still not working on my phone. I'd be happy to send you screen shots of all my setting and the broken links in the emails.
  • I am having the same issue. Same build on 1520 shows email pics. On950xl I bought won't display pics. And it's the same for two other collegues who gave purchased
  • 950 and 950 XL don't download pictures no matter what, this is a problem that's been happening for a lot of people and it started soon after the phone's introduction.
  • You unfortunately have to hard reset your phone... then the images will download. Made a post about this earlier on another thread, and that's what another user suggested. I posted images from my 929 vs my 950xl, and once I did a hard reset, the images on my 950xl came through.    It's an annoying fix, but it's a fix. No longer do I receive that "image is unavailable" icon.
  • ... and it has to be a fresh install after the reset. Loading a backup doesn't fix it.
  • Actually, I used a backup I made earlier in the morning and it worked just fine. It got rid of the broken image links in Outlook.
  • I can confirm that it doesn't have to be a fresh install. I also restored from a backup but the problem is gone.
  • same here. regardless of automatically downloading or manually hitting the link to download external images. all images result in red x, broken images. many people report this in windows feedback as well as the forums. some say hard reset fixes, some say it doesn't. waiting on MS to fix the app. I suspect that it's downloading to a folder that the email client is not looking in. how it gets in this state, no idea. if only i can get into the registry and look at what it's set to.
  • I had the red x problem as well with my 950 XL and I had even started fresh not from a backup. Like many others with the same issue I did a hard reset and now it works normally.
  • Was not working for me either on my 950xl, but after a hard reset and restore it now work!
  • hard reset is the only thing that fixed it for me...
  • That's cool. I just did that on my 920 running Windows 8.1. Thank you for the tip.
  • If this is a response to me saying on Twitter that i don't see images in Outlook, then let me reply: This aint working either. There is no button to press and no email will ever be able to download images. I think its a bug or something, as i hear it from lots of L950(XL) users. There is just no way, even with this setting it doesn't want to download stuff
  • Try hard resetting
  • You mean rebooting or factory reset? Cause people seem to mix them up. Anyways: no i'm not gonna. I'll wait for the update to drop. If that doesn't fix it, i might reset but probably not then either. Its a bug that needs to be fixed. I've spent way too much time setting it up. I won't do that again for freaking images in email
  • You can restore from a backup, it still fixed the problem for me and others.
  • Try resetting harder
  • The default setting is better for security. When links to pictures are resolved, a request is made to the sender's server, which indirectly acts as a 'receipt.' SPAMmers use these receipts as confirmation that their unsolicited mail is reaching its intended target. The default setting prevents the sender from knowing you've received their email. Ideally, you would delete the email based on the sender name, subject and text and the sender would eventually prune your address from their SPAM list.
  • Yup, it's a good point that Mark should have noted. We'll add that in.
  • I hope we can "thumbs up" comments in the new WC universal app :D
  • I am in the manual download of images camp, for these exact reasons. I wish there was an option to download all the text without any images, etc.
  • Definitely, not to mention how most of the advertising emails you get (even from legitimate sources) are a waste of space. Windows Central's emails are guilty of the same. I don't want to waste energy/data downloading things like these.
  • Open Outlook mail, tap three dots on lower right corner, select Settings, select Reading change your preferred settings under External Content
  • Mark Guim- always so helpful. thank you
  • Thanks for this tip, I think you've just saved my sanity lol! I was totally frustrated with the download full message thing, and I don't care about data cap, it's mostly WiFi anyways! Phew!!
  • I am loving the new look. Its much better than the Outlook Mail on Windows Phone 8.1.
  • yes :)
  • I use Gmail and attachments, even small ones, take forever tk download? Am I along here?
  • Same here....
  • THANK YOU Very Much for this tip!! I'm glad I wasn't the only one annoy by this. Working as expected on my Lumia 1520
  • I wish WP8.1 had this setting (actually I've wished this for some time now). It would be even better if there were levels of adjustability rather than simply yes/no. Maybe one category to download full messages, and another just for images. You could select "always" or "never", but in between there could be check boxes for "only over Wi-Fi," and "only from trusted contacts." I think that if the last two were enabled as default, a lot more people would leave this setting alone.
  • Never bothered to use the client webmail all the way(was also using the yahoo Android app till the aow removal. since they have yet to go uni)
  • I don't know if it's been said already but how come the emails show up in a column and not use the width of the screen, portrait and landscape
  • Probably a width scalling issue, on my 720p display I wish there was more space. Pound them with feedback, maybe it'll be fixed because it's a shame to have a high resolution display and not use it properly
  • That happens on Outlook for Android too
  • I have 5 accounts and this is great for me. I also linked all accounts.
  • Didn't worked on 1520 its an app issue
  • they should have a option "Always download full message and Internet Images on Wifi"
  • The default not to download would be ok except it takes so stinking long to download once you do click the links...
  • I can't able to see the sent items,its showing up to date but already i have sended more mails..is there any solution for this problem??
  • Just to clarify for everyone, there are two SEPARATE issues being discussed in this post: 1. Image placeholders.   This post talk about how to set Outlook to auto-download images when you have image placeholders. 2. Broken image links.   For some reason, a lot of the 950s have a bug in Outlook where you don't have image placeholders, you have broken image links.  It seems like the link to the folder that the app has internally set up to download images in emails is broken.  Thus you see a red "X" and the app literally cannot find the image that the link is pointing to.  (A similar bug also appears in the Cortana maps popup that shows up reminding you of the traffic for your next appointment or work.  The map image appears as a broken link with a red "X.")  The only fix as of now is to do a hard reset of your phone.  For me, I was able to backup my 950XL, do a hard reset, and then re-load the backup I created.  It fixed the broken image links in Outlook and Cortana and then re-downloaded my apps.   Edit: It's likely that if MS had allowed us to uninstall and then install Outlook like any other app, it would have fixed the issue without having to hard reset the whole phone.  My advice to anyone who gets a new 950/950XL, do a hard reset as your first step before installing apps, etc.
  • I dont mind downloading the messages...but why does it literally takes like 30-45 seconds to download an 150kb message? Im on LTE and i KNOW its not my connection...its only Outlook that takes FOREVER to download the message. And If its an image...wow be prepare to make some coffee or something. I dont know if im the only one having this problem but its so annoying.
  • Not working on 1520 after trying above instrutions
  • It is not working for the vast majority of users......if u just read the forum u will see....maybe WC has a miraculous 950 on hand...the rest of us that do not want to hard reset are stuck until MS gets there *** moving w an update.
  • I can't even use Outlook. After signing in, I'm redirected to 'please add account'. Why? Help!
  • I was unaware of this. So thanks Windows Central!
  • Manually
  • Hell manualy!
  • That's a good article. Thank you.
  • I wish that worked for mine.  I've changed all those settings and it did nothing.  And I really don't want to have to a hard reset and set everything up from scratch when that might not even fix the problem.  Going through 50 or 60 emails at the end of the day is really unpleasant.
  • Mark, nice article. Keep it up ;)
  • I'm on Team Off. I've got unlimited data but I get spammed hard (at one point I was getting 10 spam emails an hour). Anything that stops the spammers knowing I got their emails is a good thing.
  • I have the 950xl. Same persistent issue. Can someone review the steps to hard reset then restore from backup. Thanks.
  • Settings > Update & Security > Backup > More Options > Back up now. After it is done: Settings > System > About > Reset Your Phone After that is done: When your phone restarts, choose the option to load the backup file you just created.
  • I don't want to auto download image unless it has a necessary information on it.. Most of them are junk anyways no point in spending my data..
  • Doesn't work for me. No mail has images. Just little icons with red crosses. Ppl say I should hard reset a recover from backup, but I just did that when migrated from dual to single sim version of 950xl.
  • Don't even waste your time. No matter how many times I set this on my Lumia 920 I always get some mail that shows all images but most of them do not and there's that download images option that does nothing but send the floating dots across the top of the screen while nothing happens. Never had this issue in WP8.1. Edit: It is now working. Unfortunate you have to go through accounts when the option for this is there as well in the settings menu. How confusing.