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Direct link to a hosted image in email signatures

Direct link to a hosted image in email signatures

You might wonder how direct image links or direct URLs are related to email signatures. If you can use an embedded image, you do not have to worry about any links. However, linked images have some upsides: for example, they don’t increase the email size. What is more, there are situations in which linked images are the only available option. To add a linked image, you need a direct URL to it.

How to get a direct image link

Mind that it is always better to host images for email signatures on your own servers. If you do not own a server, your best bet is to use an image hosting service. The article below presents how to get a direct link in some popular image and file hosting services. As you will see, it requires more than just right-clicking the image and choosing copy image address. Click the name of an image hosting service below to learn how to get a direct image URL:

Mind that all specified methods work at the moment of writing this article, but there is no guarantee the procedure will not change in the future.

How to get a direct image link in Google Drive

Google Drive might be the most complicated image hosting service. At least if you want to get a direct link.

  1. First, let’s add an image. Either drag & drop your image (and skip to Step 3), or click New>File upload.
    Direct image link in Google Drive 01
  2. Now choose the image you want to host in Google Drive:
    Direct image link in Google Drive 02
  3. Now, you can access your photo. Mind that this is not a direct link yet, it is a shareable link. A shareable link cannot be used as a source in email signatures. Copy this link, you will need it in a second. Next, click the Sharing settings button below the URL.
    Direct image link in Google Drive 03
  4. If you want your online image to work right (display for everyone, that is), you need to change the sharing option to “Anyone on the Internet can find and view”.
    Google drive sharing options
  5. Now, if you copy the shareable link (step 3) and paste it into any text editor, you will see a link similar to this one:
    where the (case sensitive) series of letters and numbers after the ?id= part is an image identifier, which you need to copy and paste to your direct link. This direct link has the following form:
    So what you need to do now is to replace the *img_id* part from the sample direct link above with the series of letters and numbers copied from the shareable link (in this example, it is 1evNxiyU9A5yB8LYnUVsOq3--Y6hc4JJq). This way, you get the proper direct URL ready to use in your signature. For example:

How to get a direct image URL in OneDrive

Getting the direct link from OneDrive is much quicker, does not require using any developer tools or URL hocus-pocus. However, it doesn’t work in OneDrive for Business.

  1. First, use any method to upload the image to OneDrive:
    Direct image link in OneDrive 01
  2. Once the image is uploaded to your OneDrive, right-click it, and choose Embed from the menu. In the menu which appears on the right side, click Generate.
    Direct image link in OneDrive 02
  3. This generates a direct link.
    Direct image link in OneDrive 03
  4. Before you use this link, delete its attributes (the question mark and the part to the right) as some email clients are picky about displaying images with those attributes included.

How to get a direct image link in Dropbox

Getting a direct link in Dropbox also requires a simple trick.

  1. Like with other image hosting services, start with uploading your image. Drag & drop your image or click Upload > Files and choose the image from your hard drive.
    Direct image link in Dropbox 1
  2. Once you upload the image, click the Share button located next to the picture.
    Direct image link in Dropbox 2
  3. In the newly opened window, click Create a link.
    Direct image link in Dropbox 06-2
  4. The bottom of the window changes. Click Copy link and paste it into any text editor (or into the address bar).
    Direct image link in Dropbox 07-1
  5. The last thing you need to do is to change dropbox.com to dl.dropboxusercontent.com or dl=0 to raw=1 and visit the new URL. Either method will result in a direct image link.
    Direct image link in Dropbox 08-1An example of the correct format of a direct URL:

How to get a direct picture URL in Imgur

In comparison with other image hosting services, getting a direct URL is a child’s play.

  1. Start with uploading the image you want to host. Like in other services, you can either drag&drop, or use the Add Images button.
    Direct image link in Imgur 01-3
  2. Next, click the uploaded image.
    Direct image link in Imgur 02
  3. And finally, copy the direct URL from the Direct Link field on the right. No tricks or other steps are required.
    Direct image link in Imgur 3

How to get a direct URL to an image in Flickr

In Flickr, direct image links are visible without any elaborate tricks.

  1. After you upload or find the picture you want to use, click the Share.
    How to get a direct URL in Flickr
  2. In the sharing window, go to Embed and copy the code from the box below. The direct link is the part between quotation marks, right after src=.
    How to get a direct URL in Flickr

How to use the direct image link in an email signature

Getting your graphics online is the first step. The next one is to use those files in practice. Below, you can see how to use them to create your own, professional email signature using direct image links.

  1. Once you upload your image and get the direct URL, go to our free email signature generator and choose the signature template that suits your needs best (you can use the < & > buttons to see more available templates).
    Free email signature generator - choose template
  2. Next, fill in your data and go to the Graphics section. Replace Logo URL and Banner URL fields with the right direct links you have acquired before. The logo/banner linking to fields specify which website will open when the logo or banner is clicked in the email signature. Leaving those fields empty will not add any hyperlinks.
    Free email signature generator - insert graphics
  3. On the right side, you can see the signature preview. When you finish making changes and the signature looks well, click apply your signature and follow the instructions specified for your email client.
    Free email signature generator - preview

A few good tips:

  • For best results, use images of the same shape as the sample logo or banner. Using a rectangular logo when the sample logo is square will usually result in deformed graphics.
  • Mind the recommended width and height values. It is best to use exactly the same dimensions, or their multiplied values. This way, when a picture is resized, it shouldn’t become blurry.
  • After you apply the signature, send a test email to yourself. If you are using image hosting services, links might break or change. It is possible for a picture to show up in the signature preview and disappear after applying the signature.

Useful links:

98 thoughts on “Direct link to a hosted image in email signatures

    1. Kamil Glaser Post author

      Hello Jacqueline,
      I would love to help you, but I would need more information to be able to do so. Which hosting service have you used? What is the direct link you have generated? Have you set the image to be visible for everyone?

  1. Chris Smith

    As far as I can tell the direct link option has been removed from imgur. I could be missing something however. If you get the chance you may want to confirm this finding.

    1. Kamil Glaser Post author

      I have just checked, and I can still see the direct link field. Make sure you are in the Image section of settings (To access it, you can click your profile name in the top-right corner and go to Image. If you are looking at a post, and not an image, right-click the graphic and choose Copy image address from the context menu to get the direct link.

        1. Kamil Glaser Post author

          Hi Kelly,
          here you go: https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1Yw6xnhnJKPRSnVgQtS_Xc-q_lLNrvdxn

      1. Kamil Glaser Post author

        https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1p2FD93qIZOXtoUPk8itZLA__jRf-lB2z is its direct form.

  2. Ahmed AboKhozim

    Good day
    i need to make fixed shared link to be enable to change the photo in it and the link is notchanged
    to be able to distribute this signature contain this photo link on many PCs and when change the photo in the sorce changed on this many PCs

    1. Kamil Glaser Post author

      Hello Ahmed,
      As far as I know, it’s impossible with image hosting services. With your own website – it depends heavily on what tools you use, but should be as easy as uploading an image via FTP and then replacing it with another image, using the exact same path and file names.
      By the way, if by “shared link” you mean “shareable link” – it will not work in email signatures. Only direct links will do (as stated in the article).

    1. Kamil Glaser Post author

      Hi Brandon,
      I’m pretty sure you haven’t set the visibility of the image to “Anyone on the Internet can find and view it”. Clicking the sharing settings and switching to this option would be the first step to make it work. Now that I look at the article, I don’t think I have mentioned it in the instructions, thanks for noticing!

  3. anon

    How do you get a direct image URL in OneDrive?

    step 2 says to “Once the image is uploaded to your OneDrive, right-click it, and choose Embed from the menu. In the menu which appears on the right side, click Generate.”

    right click image in browser shows menu which does not offer Embed as a possible action. open file on one drive, view original, right click image , copy link produces:

    the above link does not show image.

    1. Kamil Glaser Post author

      Hi Anon,
      the problem is that you are most probably using OneDrive for Business and not OneDrive. Using the company’s OneDrive for Business will not work for embedding images.

      1. anon

        Thanks for replying. ok so this direct link does not work for onedrive for business. Does this direct link method work for the G suite version of Google Drive? G suite version of Google Photos? which would you recommend Google Drive vs Photos for image hosting to directly link to other apps?

        1. Kamil Glaser Post author

          G Suite version of Google Drive should work without any issues. You can follow the exact steps listed in this article to get the direct link.

    1. Kamil Glaser Post author

      Hi Felix,
      the link would be https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1V5qA0W5jfX9IMWAHMunJ1ZTrECp3VCwQ.

    1. Kamil Glaser Post author

      And for this one: https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1Ej5YKf_BfoG319I4BQzcg9BVPUa6-FY3
      Aren’t those a bit blurry?

  4. DB

    HI Kamil,

    How can I make sure the direct link I created via dropbox doesn’t expire when I Insert it into gmail’s inline image icon on the signature section? Ive tried this a few times with another image url link generator from online and the image link broke after a few days, but hoping the link I created with dropbox will stay as is. thanks!

    1. Kamil Glaser Post author

      If you follow the steps from this article for Dropbox, the link should not expire – the one I have used has been valid since I’ve written the post (around 9 months now). Just make sure you do not delete or change settings of the image from your Dropbox.

  5. Andrea

    Any clues on how to get this signature to work on iphones/ipads? I found a page that walked me through copying and pasting into the signature field in settings, and it copies just fine. But when I go to send a message my photo and social media icons don’t come through.

    1. Kamil Glaser Post author

      If you can see the graphics after pasting the signature, most probably the signature works fine on your end and the images are blocked by your recipient’s email client. When the recipient adds you to a safe senders list, or clicks the option to download pictures, your images will appear.
      It could also relate to the problem with iPhone deleting images from replies and forwards, described in this article.

    1. Kamil Glaser Post author

      Hello Anna,
      The direct link for this image would be https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1q6Xn73rCKAwTvLf3GhxNxuayT3_ZVfaa. Mind that it will not work unless you set the image as publicly accessible (step 4).

  6. Lisa

    Hi Kammil,

    I’ve done everything you mention on the article, including setting the image as publicly accessible.
    I replaced the id part with the image’s id and I end up with this url: https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1IU1XYyiKRwYAS-bS7CuiE3pfPZx4yDTJ

    When I add it on the email signature, the image doesn’t load. I’ve also tried the url on a Chrome browser and I get an error message from Google, saying:
    “We’re sorry… but your computer or network may be sending automated queries. To protect our users, we can’t process your request right now.”

    There’s another weird thing happening… Here are the steps that I follow:
    1) I right click on the image on Google Drive
    2) The pop up window opens – I set the image as publicly accessible and click Save
    3) Now the link that is generated, (this is the weird part), is not an “id=…” link. It’s the following:
    4) Since it’s not an id link, I click Done. And I then right click the image on Google drive and select “Get a Shareable Link” and that’s when I get the id link which is: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1IU1XYyiKRwYAS-bS7CuiE3pfPZx4yDTJ
    5) I then replace the id and end up with this link: https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1IU1XYyiKRwYAS-bS7CuiE3pfPZx4yDTJ
    6) I paste that to the email signature generator and it still doesn’t work!!

    A few notes:
    – The image is 150x150px.
    – The image is a png (also tried with a jpg – doesn’t work)
    – The folder on Google Drive that contains the image is also set as publicly shared (I’ve also tried with an image outside a folder – same thing, doesn’t work!)

    Can’t see what could be going wrong…

    Any help would be much appreciated!


    1. Kamil Glaser Post author

      Hi Lisa,
      The URL you are using is a perfectly fine direct URL and it should work without any problems. I’ve just tested it and it works both when I visit the URL and paste it into the generator. The issue lies elsewhere. It seems that Google suspects you are using some kind of automation. There are multiple possible reasons for that and some threads provide answers that can help you. Here is an example with some further links: https://www.linode.com/community/questions/418/i-just-got-the-message-your-computer-or-network-may-be-sending-automated-queries

    1. Kamil Glaser Post author

      Hi Claire,
      By following the step 5 under How to get a direct image link in Google Drive 😉
      The direct url of your image looks like this: https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1GgkaHwY3PJhjwTJFDW60BcLUbeqcWJD_

    1. Kamil Glaser Post author

      How did it break? Did it suddenly stop working? I’d double-check if no image’s settings were changed and if you converted the link to the right direct URL format.

  7. Paul C

    Hi Kamil, I accidentally stumbled upon this thread in my Google search of trying to solve my problem, which is as follows: When I originally set up my e-mail signature a couple of years ago on my Gmail account, I had an image of my company logo which I stored on my Google drive account and I was able to insert this image with no problem. A few months ago, this image is now showing up as a “broken link” every time I compose a new e-mail. I went through all of your steps to create the direct link and tried to re-insert this image into the signature using the “Web Address (URL)” method. (It won’t work by directly accessing it from “My Drive” and I don’t want to “Upload” because that’s only temporary.) So, when I insert the new “direct link” URL from your instructions, I get returned to my Settings and it shows up as a “broken image” square. In other words, the link doesn’t work. I checked and double-checked that the image is publically accessible, and it IS. What am I doing wrong??? I have racked my brain trying to figure this out. Why can’t I select the “My Drive” option to specify the image like I did when I FIRST set up this e-mail signature? Is that no longer working? If it’s not, then why does Google show that as an option?? PLEASE HELP!

    1. Kamil Glaser Post author

      Hi Paul,
      If you double-checked that your image URL has the right format and that its sharing properties are set to “anyone on the Internet can find and view”, then it might be a bug reported in this Google Support thread. Try opening the new Incognito window, sign in there and set up your signature image.
      If this doesn’t help, I’ll need the link you are using to get to the bottom of the issue.

    1. Kamil Glaser Post author

      Hi Robyn,
      It seems you put a space between the first part of the link and its id, try this one:

    1. Kamil Glaser Post author

      Your direct link looks like this:
      The embed option is not available in OneDrive for Business, otherwise – it should be there.

  8. Ananya

    How do I embed an animated banner? It only allows me to upload images.
    Thank you for your help.

    1. Kamil Glaser Post author

      Hello Ananya,
      Following the steps from the article allows you to upload any kind of graphic file that can be used in email signatures. Including an animated gif. Using an animated gif in the signature is the same as using a standard *.png image.
      However, all the steps apply to hosted, online images. If you want to use an embedded image/animation, the instruction will be different for every email client. And not every email client allows you to use embedded images.

  9. Michelle Davis

    What would be the reason why my image is showing up when I create my signature here (using my OneDrive), but when I paste it in outlook signature, it’s not showing there?

    1. Kamil Glaser Post author

      Hi Michelle,
      It seems that Outlook is picky about those URLs. But if you use the URL without attributes (the question mark and everything to the right from it) the image should show up without any problems.

  10. Sharon

    Worked beautifully! I have 100s of images I need uploaded to a CMS using a CSV file, but It could not pull in the google drive images. This fixed the problem and saved me thousands of hours uploading one at a time.
    Thank you!

    1. Kamil Glaser Post author

      Hi Mary,
      Your direct URL is as follows:

    1. Kamil Glaser Post author

      Here you go:

  11. Susan Flemmings

    wonderful post, very informative. I wonder why the other specialists of this sector don’t notice this. You must continue your writing. I’m confident, you have a huge readers’ base already!

    1. Kamil Glaser Post author

      Try the direct URL, instead:

  12. Martins

    Hello Kamil,

    In the posts could not find such an issue.
    I use google drive as onedrive did not work. I would say the onedrive and google drive has the same issue.

    I shared the link. corrected as per Your instructions. When I copy link in browser – the logo shows.

    When I put the link in the Thunderbird and open a new letter the logo shows. But when I get a reply , logo is not showing and also, the person whom receives my email, picture does not show.

    What could be the issue?

    The same is for onedrive and google drive.

    Thank in advance.

    1. Kamil Glaser Post author

      Hello Martins,
      First, check in Google Drive if the image’s visibility is set to “everyone on the Internet”. Although it might seem as the same as “anyone with the link can view”, the latter option will always break the image.
      Next, does it happen to all recipients? Could you check if the image shows when you send an email to a Gmail user, for example? It could break only because the recipient filters out images by default.

    1. Kamil Glaser Post author

      Here you go:

    1. Kamil Glaser Post author

      That’s because you are using the shareable links, instead of direct URLs.
      Direct URLs for those images would be:

    1. Kamil Glaser Post author

      Those are the correct formats for direct links, they seem to work just fine. Mind that it is not recommended to use an email signature which is only a single image.

  13. Timea Viragh

    Thank you for this post! It is super helpful. I was wondering if you know the trick for Box. Unfortunately, my work uses Box, and I didn’t find any useful information online on how to get the direct URL from Box. Thank you in advance!

    1. Timea Viragh

      Here is the solution in case others need it:
      1. Go to the folder where your picture is located in the Box folder.
      2. Click “Share”, and then a new window comes up. Create the share link.
      3. Change the option for the shared link to “People with the link”
      4. Go to Link Settings
      5. The bottom of that window contains the Direct Link. Click Copy and there you have your direct link.

    1. Kamil Glaser Post author

      The direct link for this image is:

    1. Kamil Glaser Post author

      The direct URL for the image is:

    1. Kamil Glaser Post author

      Hello Carlos,
      The direct URL is: https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1dixPakx-Le1EwkpdPrsUYMXk99CedHoa

  14. Shelly

    On a previous post you mentioned it is not recommended to use an email signature that is all one image. That is what I was hoping to do. Will it not work properly using one of these options?

    1. Kamil Glaser Post author

      It should work, but that doesn’t make it a recommended option.
      Image-only email signatures make it impossible to copy any signature details straight from an email, can contain only one link (on the whole image) have the tendency of being blocked by email clients (and are rarely unblocked by recipients) are extremely screen-reader-unfriendly. What’s more, text included in such emails tends not to scale correctly. And that’s only some of the arguments against.
      The only upside of such a signature (as long as it is actually displayed) is that its layout will not break, regardless of the target email client. However, it applies to correctly HTML-coded email signatures as well.


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