When you click Send to send an email, do you sometimes see blurry letters and numbers inside a text box -- along with a prompt asking you to type in the code? This is an Image Challenge. Seeing an Image Challenge from time to time is completely normal and AOL uses these challenges to protect the people you know from receiving automated spam.

Note: If you are receiving Image Challenges constantly, go to i.aol.com and change your password. You may also go to challenge.aol.com/spam/html to sign in and enter the characters displayed in the image challenge presented.

(Image Challenges occur much more frequently when suspicious activity has been detected on an account: Sign-ins from different locations around the world, sudden massive bulk mailings, etc. These are signs that an account has been compromised and this is why you should change your password.)

Here are a few key questions about AOL's Image Challenges:


What is an image challenge?

An image challenge is one of our most effective tools for helping us prevent automated programs from abusing your email account. The characters (letters and/or numbers) hidden in the image can’t be read by a computer and must be entered manually. This ensures that only a real person and not an automated program or machine will pass the test. Below is an example of an image challenge.

Note: The image box may display animated or static characters. Characters are animated when they flash and move within the image box. An example of static characters is shown in the image below. This is just an example – not all image challenges may look like this one.

Verification Image

Note: The Image box may display animated or static characters. An example of static characters is shown in the image above. Characters are animated when they flash and move within the Image box.

I just passed an image challenge and immediately got another one. How do I get out of image challenge court?

If you successfully pass the image challenge and you are immediately prompted to pass another one, follow the suggestions below to get out of the image challenge loop:

Why do I have to take the image challenge multiple times?

If you’re prompted to retake the image challenge multiple times a day and aren’t able to send emails even after you clear your cache and cookies, you might have a more serious issue: A worm or virus might have infected your computer.

First, we recommend you perform some basic computer hygiene, starting with scanning your computer using McAfee Internet Security Suite - Special edit. For downloads of reliable antivirus software, visit AOL Internet Security Central. If the virus scan comes back clean but you still don’t pass the image challenge, check when your antivirus software was last updated. If it hasn’t been updated within the past 29 days, try updating the software again. If you’re not able to update the software, contact your software’s vendor for further support.

Next, we strongly recommend you reset the password for your AOL account to maintain the privacy and security of your account by going to i.aol.com.

A virus isn’t the only reason you might have to take multiple image challenges. If you frequently send emails to a lot of people at the same time, you might be asked to pass the image challenge more than once. It’s also possible AOL received spam complaints from people receiving your emails. (Maybe you sent one too many pictures of cute kittens?) We encourage you to send emails only to recipients who confirmed they want to receive your emails. You can do this by asking your recipients individually and confirming he or she would like to remain on your mailing list.

I can’t see the image challenge image. What do I do?

If you don’t see the image, make sure your browser preferences are set to display images and try again. If that doesn’t help, and you have speakers plugged into your computer, click Can’t see this image? to hear the hidden characters spoken out loud.

Display images in Internet Explorer:

1. In Internet Explorer, click the Tools menu and then click Internet Options.

2. Click the Advanced tab and then click Restore advanced settings or Restore Defaults.

3. Click OK and then close Internet Explorer.

4. Now open Internet Explorer, go back to the item you wanted to email and see if you can see the image challenge.

Display images in Firefox:

1. In Mozilla Firefox, click the Tools menu and then Options.

2. Click the Content tab, select the check box next to Load images automatically and then click OK.

3. Now go back to the item you wanted to email and see if you can see the image challenge.

We hope you understand we’re doing all we can to protect your online experience and that tools such as Image Challenge are there to help you, not get in your way. Now go send that email!