Gmail on Android doesn’t display background images on non-Gmail accounts

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One of the features of Gmail on Android is that you can configure it to access email from non-Gmail accounts. However it appears that when doing so, background images are not displayed when emails from non-Gmail accounts are opened. Thanks to Ann Marie Gingrich for bringing my attention to this issue.

I did a check myself and indeed all background images – table backgrounds as well as background and background-image CSS – are not showing up in emails retrieved from non-Gmail accounts. Background images show up fine in the Gmail app if the email was sent to and retrieved from a Gmail email address (ie. gmail.com).

This problem will become more acute as Google has dropped the native Android mail client in favor of the Gmail mobile app for their newest operating system starting from 5.0 (Lollipop). Users on Android devices who need to access their work email would have to use the Gmail app or a 3rd party mail app.

Update: This setup on the Gmail App is now referred to as the Gmail Android app with Non-Google Accounts (GANGA).





Latest Comments
  1. Nicole Merlin

    Noooooooooooooooooooooooooo! That… that is just the worst.

  2. WebDevJoshB

    I discovered this several months ago while doing a newsletter email for BMW. The only solution I could come up with was setting a background color that matched the background, that way the content, which was set to white, would display on a non-white background.

    Another thing that sucks, unrelated to html coding, is there is currently no way to track gmail opens of gmail and non-gmail accounts. Pretty much all gmail opens, regardless of platform, are grouped in reporting on litmus.com. So we can’t go back to our client and say “there is only this xx% of users who have that setup.”

    • Justin

      I wonder if you embedded the pixel as a background image would Google still retrieve it when viewed on non-gmail account.

      • WebDevJoshB

        Sorry I’m just getting back to you (14 months late).

        I don’t think so, and here’s why.

        To get backgrounds to render in Gmail (both webmail and the Android/iPhone app), I include a non-valid attribute background, in addition specifying a background image via inline CSS.

        To test, I sent the same email to three different Gmail App-managed email addresses:

        * My hotmail.com account (Android 6.01 only; iPhone wouldn’t let me link it)
        * My personal domain-based email account (example@myname.com, Android 6.01 and iPhone 6S Plus/iOS 9.3.5 )
        * My Gmail-created account (myname@gmail.com, Android 6.01 and iPhone 6S Plus/iOS 9.3.5)

        I also viewed the same emails using Gmail webmail in Explorer 11, Chrome and Firefox (most recent versions).

        The background image rendered in all except my hotmail account on Android’s Gmail App (again, I couldn’t try on iPhone because the Gmail App wouldn’t let me link the hotmail account). Also I tried both the CSS background shorthand as well as coding each background property/value, all to no avail.

  3. Sebastian

    Has anyone heard any further from Gmail on this crippling bug? Took me ages to find this out and to hear there’s no hack/fix is very disheartening.

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