Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

It is very easy to capture and save images from the internet, whether they are from websites or social networks. Anything you put out there can easily be grabbed.

I use Yahoo Messenger to chat with friends all over the world and share pictures with them using the Share Photos option in Yahoo Messenger. There is a feature in this option that allows the person to save the photos that I'm sharing with them. Is there a way I can stop them from saving my shared pictures either within Yahoo Messenger or making the pictures so they can't be saved before I share them?

In this excerpt from Answercast #43, I show you how easy it is to copy images from the internet. It boils down to – don't share it if you don't want it shared!

Copy protecting photos

The short answer to this one is a very resounding no. The application may or may not be prevented from saving the photos.

There is no way that I know of to actually make a photo that can't be saved.

  • A photo is just a file.

  • It's a string of bits that happens to be formatted in a particular way.

  • There is nothing that prevents that string of bits from being saved on to their hard disk.

  • In fact, it gets worse. If they can see the picture in any way, shape or form, they can save what they see.

All they need to do (to be honest) is to take a screen shot while the photo is being displayed. Then, they can create their own file, their own copy of the photo, regardless of what it is you may have said, set, or done to that photo.

So the very short answer is absolutely not.

  • Do not share anything that you are not willing to be saved or duplicated at the other end.

It's just that easy to make copies of what people find and see on the internet. Computers are great at making copies of things – and this is one of the examples where it's important to understand that.

Article C5687 - August 12, 2012 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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