Do iframes work in email?

Questions regarding the use of iframes in email crop up from time to time. Whether it be to do with adding content from a site, or a 'Like' Facebook box, we figured that we'd finally do some thorough tests of our own and put the matter to rest.

So, what was the verdict? After testing an email with iframes across 24 major web, desktop and mobile clients, we found that the results weren't particularly promising. As iframes can potentially link to shady or plain malicious content (like scripts), a lot of email clients just disable them.

Here's a breakdown of which email clients display iframes, and which ones do away with them altogether:

Client Iframe displays?
AOL Webmail No
Gmail No
Windows Live Hotmail No
MobileMe No
Yahoo! Mail No
AOL 9 No
Apple Mail 3 / 4 Yes
Entourage 2008 No
Lotus Notes 6 / 7 No
Lotus Notes 8 Yes
Outlook 2000 Yes
Outlook Express 6 Yes
Outlook XP / 2003 / 2007 / 2010 No
Thunderbird Yes
Windows Mail Yes
Blackberry No
iPhone / iPad Yes
Symbian S60 Yes
Windows Mobile 5 No
Windows Mobile 6 Yes
Android (default client) Yes
Android (Gmail client) No

Our advice: given the notably poor adoption of iframes, we seriously discourage you from using them. Even though this means that you can't add a 'Like' box to your email, there are alternate ways to share your campaign on Facebook that you can consider.

Posted by Ros Hodgekiss

5 Comments

  • Koen Mertens
    17th August

    Thanks for the article. I guess iframes are never gonna happen, right?
    PS. I wouldn’t call Outlook 2010 “beta” anymore. ;-)

  • Nickolas Simard
    18th August

    Thanks for the round up about iFrames. It was an expectable result but the test tells all we needed to know: stop using frames!

  • Ros Hodgekiss
    18th August

    Hi Koen, I think you’re on the money there. Thanks for the tip, all fixed. That’s what I get for copying and pasting from a previous test ;)

  • Jump Media Design Bristol
    19th August

    I guess the consensus is ‘Stop using iframes in email’ -and also in websites.It’s only a matter of time before every email platform stop supporting it. Google already hates it and it does affect one’s website ranking.

    Will they ever get rid of it as part of the supported codes in HTML coding?

  • Elliot Ross
    19th August

    likewise, have had this question come up in the past. I guess the fact it easily opens up opportunities for nasty javascript means they’re not welcome at the html email party.

    Once nice implementation I’ve seen occasionally is a scrolling div - from memory we tested it a while ago and it doesn’t work everywhere, but in some instances it can work well (when it doesn’t the rest of the div flows underneath). I’ll dig up an example and blog it sometime :)

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