I've noticed that since about Dec 15th 2020, links in a lot of my emails are rewritten to link to nam12.safelinks.protection.outlook.com, and I have no idea why or how this is happening.

Important!!! I'm not using Outlook.com, and emails are not coming from outlook.com as far as I can tell.

The emails are in my Gmail account, and most but not all emails are affected.

The emails that have links replaced are from a sample of senders such as: NYT, Facebook, TED, LinkedIn, Banks, StackOverflow, online stores, NPR, etc.

Emails that don't have links replaced are just a few: Craigslist, Google originated notifications like Google Calendar, and from some friends.

All the instructions for getting rid of it point to going to Outlook.com account, clicking on Premiere settings, and turning it off there. The problem is, I don't use outlook.com (though my MS account login is the external email address that seems affected), I don't have Premiere account, and I don't even see how emails get intercepted by Outlook Safelinks, which is already really, really creepy.

Before anyone starts argue for why to keep it: it's creepy and I never opted into it; it's broken b/c now some of the links in emails do not work; Google's spam filter is now much more aggressive such emails and most of them go to spam folder; some emails' links are now broken (few store emails and Facebook notifications links are now completely bust); good practice of check link before you click is now useless b/c I've no idea what I'm clicking on; when service dies (and it'll die - nothing, especially in tech, is forever) all saved emails' will have broken links; bad actors can take advantage of this by sending emails (such that would bypass the service) with links pointing to safelinks.protection.0utlook.com (not real outlook); etc. IOW, it's a pain in the ass.

So with me not having Outlook Premier, nor even using outlook.com, nor even having outlook.com anywhere in the path of emails, how do I get rod of it?

  • What email apps do you have connected to you Gmail account? What email clients do you use to read your Gmail account email messages? Feb 20, 2021 at 20:29
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    @Rubén, regarding first link (Outlook rewrites all...) seems someone who's corporate account got switched to Outlook. My provider is GMail, so that doesn't seem to be relevant (and as mentioned, I don't have Premium under my Outlook.com, which, again, is not the provider for this email box - I simply happen to have MS account with login name same as my non-ms email address. The email box affected is GMail email box.) ...
    – LB2
    Feb 21, 2021 at 2:57
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    ... Re second link (phishing), there's no new information for the most part (Esa's answer is best at listing issues, and ads additional one I didn't think about). More importantly, it doesn't specify how to disable functionality, especially for non-outlook email boxes.
    – LB2
    Feb 21, 2021 at 2:57

1 Answer 1


I eventually figured it out. While I use Gmail as my inbox, I have an email alias through my alma mater that is simply a forward to my Gmail account, and I use that alias for most of my email and account registrations. Turns out my alma mater switched email services and is now utilizing Office365 as the back-end for their email services, and that backend performs content re-write, injecting those SafeLinks into the emails, even though it's not an explicit email inbox with Office365. And it being not explicit makes it impossible to turn it off. Sigh.

UPDATE: My alma matter eventually brought the issue to MS and figured out how to reconfigure the backend services so the link rewrite no longer happens! All is back to normal.

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