PNG Transparency in IE-based Email


macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Jan 28, 2005
I'm sending a newsletter using a mass email system (activate direct). The header is a PNG with transparency. It works fine in everything but IE (and outlook, etc., I'd assume)

I'm not exactly sure why, but the only way I can get the transparency to work properly is with Microsoft's solution linked to below. The other javascript and php-based solutions provided by a Google search don't work. Obviously Microsoft's ActiveX based solution won't work at all in Safari, Firefox, etc.

What I need is a way to selectively display the image in a normal way when the browser is Safari, Firefox, etc., but to use the ActiveX method when IE is detected. Is there a way to do this?


macrumors 68000
Jun 13, 2004
Actually, I would suggest you not using any png at all. Instead of finding ways and means to cater for it, I think it's much easier to come up with a way to use jpg/gif instead.

PS: If you manage to get it work on IE. Safari and firefox shouldn't be much of a problem as they render png correctly.


macrumors 68030
Aug 8, 2006
Northern California
Don't use ActiveX. If you have to use PNG and can't manage JPEG or GIF, then, screw the IE users (may not always be an option, but it's always great to point out how bad that browser is ;)). IE7 supports PNG by the way.


macrumors 6502
Mar 11, 2007
Austin, TX
If you're sending out an e-mail, your biggest concern should be e-mail client compatibility, not browser compatibility. Even if you get the e-mail to display exactly as you want in your browser(s) of choice, your receiving e-mail clients will be the proverbial pain in your ass.

Gmail, Yahoo!, Hotmail, and God forbid - AOL, will all display the e-mail slightly different, as each client will let you get away with different amounts.

Entourage will display an e-mail differently than Outlook, and for that matter there can be a drastic difference between Outlook 2003 and Outlook 2007. O2k7 has some very serious restrictions on what you can display in an e-mail, and has really set us back in e-mail design.

Bottom line: forget the alpha transparency png, forget anything advanced, any complex scripting. When it comes to email design, keep it simple.

Believe it or not, one of the safest ways to have your e-mail come across safely, is to use tables. I know, I know, I hear designers everywhere crying, but it's true. E-mail design is a completely different ballgame than web design.