Did you notice some weird string of characters added to all your emails in your Outlook inbox? Yes, Outlook is adding a string of characters at the beginning of all URLs present in your emails. The URL may look suspicious with these characters, but they are actually added by Microsoft. The string includes text before the original URL and it looks something like this-
You will be able to see it only if Microsoft has activated this feature for your email account. Some users might get it late based on their subscription or the region.
The Outlook.com service scans each link you click in your emails, and if the destination web site contains suspicious content, you will be redirected to a warning page. We recommend that you do not proceed to any sites that trigger the warning page. As part of this change, the links in some emails you receive will look different. The links will contain additional information related to the security checks that were performed. Over the coming months, new Outlook.com updates will improve the appearance of these links while still keeping you protected.
Safelinks Protection Outlook
This is nothing suspicious or worrisome. There is no problem with your email client of the web app. This is a new feature of Office 365 subscription and Outlook.com accounts which aim to make your email accounts more secure.
This feature termed as Safe Links is made available to Microsoft accounts which includes the accounts at outlook.com, hotmail.com, msn.com, and live.com.
Safe Links feature is a part of “Advanced Threat Protection” and it is a part of malware and spam filtering in your emails. This feature is launched to check if there is any phishing link in any of your emails or whether any of your emails bring viruses or Trojans onto your PC. So relax, it’s just a security feature launched by Microsoft to give your emails additional security.
The safelinks.protection.outlook string and the link might be different and longer in some of your emails, but there is nothing to worry about. If Outlook finds any phishing link or suspicious in your emails, it won’t let the link open, and your PC will be safe from any kind of malware and virus attack via emails. There will be a warning message displayed to the user that the link is unsafe and might contain a virus.
Does this Safe Link feature create any problem?
No, it doesn’t. Yes, the URLs might look weird, long and ugly but other than that, the Safe Links feature won’t cause you any problem or trouble. The string of characters added to your email makes it difficult to understand and identify the email address or the URL, but then again it is for better security of your Outlook inbox.
If there is any problem found in any of your links, when you click on it you will get to see a warning message saying, ‘We’ve detected an unsafe link’ and you will be given a choice to Return to Outlook or Continue anyway.
Can I disable this Safelinks feature?
The feature, however, won’t cause you any issue or trouble, and Microsoft doesn’t recommend deactivating this feature- but some users still might want to disable it because of the ugly, longer and unidentifiable URLs.
This is a security feature and is launched to protect your PC from phishing attacks and unwanted malware. Thus you won’t get any direct option to disable the feature.
Still, if you want to disable or deactivate this feature, regular free users of Outlook will have to contact Outlook.com support for the same. You cannot disable the feature on your own. There is a particular official procedure to disable this feature, and only the support team can do that.
If you want to contact the support system to deactivate this feature from your Microsoft accounts, follow these steps-
Go to the Outlook.com Help page from the Help icon displayed on the top-right corner of your page.
This will open a message box where you can type your request to disable the Safe Links feature for the required email aliases by using their suggested wording:
Please disable Safe Links for the following email aliases; [alias_1], [alias_2]…
You can add various email addresses by using a comma.
Once you are done with the message, click on the Get Help button and you are done. The Outlook support will check your request and will do the needful.
How to turn off Outlook SafeLinks?
Microsoft 365 subscribers can disable Outlook SafeLinks feature as follows. Log into outlook.live.com and then open Settings > Premium > Security > Advanced Security. You will see the toggle here. Please note that turning off Safelinks will only affect future emails you receive. It won’t change the link format in the emails you’ve already received.