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Can this be easily tweaked to preload images as well, if desired? Or is their exclusion inherent in the method used?

As far as I can tell it just downloads the page. Nothing is parsed until you click the link, so there really isn't a reliable way of telling which images to load until then.

You could write something to parse the page and download images, but I don't recommend it. You risk a significant performance hit for the client, and a lot of wasted bandwidth for both client and server.

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