Is your photo showing in everyone's Outlook?

Control your Facebook photo as displayed to others via Outlook.

Are you aware that your Facebook photo shows up for anyone with Outlook?

We ask because at we see a lot of readers emails and some of the photos make us wonder is the sender realizes the Facebook shot is so widely seen.

Some photos might be deliberately quirky and a few a little raunchy. In all these cases we suspect the sender doesn’t realize that the standard Facebook privacy controls don’t apply or they aren’t aware that the photo appears in places way beyond Facebook.

Recent versions of Outlook have a ‘People Pane’ or social connector which shows details about the contact or sender from social media sites – mostly Facebook. Outlook 2010 and Outlook 2013 have this in-built and there’s an add-in for Outlook 2007 and Outlook 2003.

As we’ve mentioned before, this facility has its annoying points, like the persistent photo even when none is available. But some of the options for seeing emails and appointments linked to the contact can be handy.

If you configure Outlook to link with Facebook (People Pane | Account Settings) you’ll see the Facebook Profile Picture if there’s a match.

Facebook status displayed image from Is your photo showing in everyone

What if you don’t want your Facebook photo showing up all over the place?

The answer is in Facebook, not Outlook.  We’ve read a lot about the difficulties with Facebook privacy settings and in writing this article we see what they mean.

Go to your Facebook page and look at the ‘Profile Picture’ in top left. There’s message which explains a little.

Facebook Profile Picture help image from Is your photo showing in everyone

Right-Click on the image to see the options available

Facebook Profile Picture options image from Is your photo showing in everyone

Click on the image to open up a gallery view of all Profile Pictures.

Facebook Profile Picture gallery options image from Is your photo showing in everyone

You can have many pictures in this gallery. One of the Profile Pictures can be tagged as the ‘Profile Picture’ and it’s that image that can be shared with Outlook users.

Facebook says that “Your current profile picture is public” but maybe not entirely public. In the Facebook Privacy settings there’s an option ‘Who can look you up using the email address or phone number you provided’.

Facebook lookup privacy setting image from Is your photo showing in everyone

That would seem to limit Outlooks ability to find a match for a contact or email. While the Profile Picture is still ‘public’ the privacy option stops unauthorized people finding it.

What can you do?

Since many people will see the Facebook photo in Outlook and it’s nicer than the default silouette image, having a Facebook profile image is a small courtesy.  You might not use Facebook at all, but it seems polite to have a minimal presence and put a face (of some sort) to your emails.

You could lock down Facebook’s privacy settings to prevent people from seeing your Profile Picture but that might not suit you. At the very least, have a look at your Profile Picture and consider if it’s something you’re happy seeing far and wide. You might want to put up a more professional or friendly photo than the one from the last drunken Xmas party.

A fun alternative is to set a quirky Facebook Profile Picture that doesn’t show your face.

How about a retinal image from your optometrist?

Retinal Scan image from Is your photo showing in everyone

The Moray Eel photo, shown above, is an example of a travel photo put to some use. Or a childhood photo also shown above.

Or freak Outlook users with a flipped version of the default Outlook image .

Flipped Outlook default image image from Is your photo showing in everyone

Who sees your Profile Picture?

According to Facebook

When you add a new profile picture, here’s what happens:

  • The photo is added to your timeline and appears in your Profile Pictures album.
  • A thumbnail version of the photo is made and appears next to your name around Facebook. This helps friends identify your posts and comments on Facebook.
  • Your current profile picture is public. You can adjust the audience the photo is shared with to control who sees the larger view of the photo and any likes or comments on the photo.