The “Disarmed” label on Gmail means the tracking Web bug was removed

In June I started noticing that some emails on Gmail had “{Disarmed}” in the subject line. Now I realize what that means. {Disarmed} means the Web bug in the email has been de-activated.

What’s a Web bug?

A Web bug is an image online marketers used to determine if you’ve opened an email.

Say you’ve got 100,000 subscribers to your newsletter. Your newsletter software will include an image in the email for tracking purposes. The file name or pathname for that image will include a unique code tied to each person on the mailing list. In the simplest case, the first person will have a code of 1, the second person 2, etc.

Here’s what happens next. You send the emails. When people open them their email software loads the images from your Web server. When your Web server sees that someone requested the image associated with person number 1, you know that person number 1 opened the email.

This is all assuming that the person’s email software automatically loads images. Some do and some don’t. In some cases they don’t, but the user can choose to load the images. In Microsoft Outlook you can right click and load images. In Gmail you click “Display Images Below.” But now Gmail is even smarter and will load the other images, but not the Web bugs it detects.

P.S. Marketers can also tell if you’ve clicked on a link in the email. Instead of the links going directly to the Web site they go to a redirection script that includes a unique code tied to your identity. When you click on the link your click is recorded and you’re redirected to the Web page you wanted. Most email marketing software software will give reports on open rates and click-through rates.

5 Responses to The “Disarmed” label on Gmail means the tracking Web bug was removed

  1. batman says:


    ok, that at least explains what it is – but do you know if there is a way to at least not display the {Disarmed} bit? its really annoying – i’ve found that in a conversation that goes back and forth several times, i’m ending up with about ten {Disarmed}’s in my subject line – which is of no use to anyone.
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  2. don says:

    I think it looks cool and reminds me to lose my ego during the day- disarm.


  3. Tom says:

    Thanks for the education!

  4. Steve says:

    Thank you! gmail help does not explain this, nor did I find many other places that explained it. Much apperciated!

  5. ben says:

    But I get this on mail that does not contain a web bug, i.e., the reply to the mail has no images in the original message.
    Is there a ware to remove this message in the subject line? maybe as an option?