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Plain Text email

If you use one or more mailing lists or post to forums or bulletin boards using email, or just want to be a good net citizen, then you need to configure your email client or webmail to send plain text email.

Why? Try here or here or here.

Email Client Programs

These are programs you run on your computer. They usually download email from your ISP and allow you to read it locally.

If you use an internet browser such as Internet Explorer to read your mail, then you probably need to look at the Webmail section.

Microsoft Outlook Express

To set the default format for all recipients:
  1. On the menu bar select Tools.
  2. On the Tools menu select Options, the Options dialog box will be displayed.
  3. Select the Send tab on the Options dialog box.
  4. In the Mail Sending Format section, ensure that Plain Text is selected by clicking on it.
  5. Click the OK button.
To set "plain text" emails for only selected recipients, e.g. a mailing list, you need to create an address book entry for those recpients:
  1. Open the Address Book by one of these methods:
    • Click on the Addresses button on the toolbar, or
    • On the Tools menu, select Address Book, or
    • Type CTRL-SHIFT-B on your keyboard (hold down both CTRL and SHIFT, then press the B key).
  2. Then create a new address book entry by one of these methods:
    • On the File menu, select New Contact, or
    • On the button toolbar click New and from the menu select New Contact, or
    • Type CTRL-N on your keyboard.
  3. Check that the Name tab is selected. (If not, click on it to select it).
  4. Fill in the fields for which you have information. Make sure you click the Add button for each email address you enter.
  5. Click on the Send E-Mail using plain text only option.
  6. (Optional) Select the other tabs and fill in any information you wish to record.
  7. Click the OK button.
If you already have an entry in your address book, then:
  1. Open the address book entry, for example, by double clicking on it.
  2. Click on the Name tab to select it.
  3. Make sure the Send E-Mail using plain text only option is selected.
  4. Click the OK button.


This section describes Mozilla Mail version 1.6, but should be valid for all Netscape Communicator, Mozilla, and Firefox variants.

Mozilla allow the type of email format to be set on both a Server and Recipient (address book) basis. If you have more than one email address for which you collect mail, then you will have more than one server configured and you will need to set the format for each one separately.

To configure the default for an email server:

  1. Select Mail & Newsgroups Account Settings from the Edit menu.
  2. Select the Composition & Addressing tab for the server you wish to configure.
  3. Make sure that Compose messages in HTML format is not set.
  4. Repeat from step 2 for each server you wish to configure.
  5. Click the OK button to save your changes.

To configure the email format for a recipient:

  1. Open the Address book.
  2. Open an entry by double clicking or selecting Properies
  3. On the Contact tab, set the Prefers to receive messages formatted as: option to Plain Text.
  4. Click the OK button to save your changes.

WebMail Servers


Yahoo Mail only supports composing HTML mail with Internet Explorer. If you are using another browser, for example Netscape/Mozilla or Opera, then you don't have to do anything to generate plain text email.

If you are using Internet Explorer, Yahoo Mail only allows you to select the mail format for all recipients, there is no option in the address book to select on a per-address basis. By using both Internet Explorer and another browser it is possible to select the email format by using IE for HTML and the alternative for plain text.

To turn off HTML format email for Internet Explorer:

  1. On the main Yahoo Mail page, select Options. This is near the top right hand side of the page. Reading across the top of the page there are four tabs, Mail, Addresses, Calendar, Notepad, followed by four links, What's New, SMS Mail Alerts, Upgrades, Options. It is this last link that you want.
  2. Select General Preferences under Personalisation. This can be found in the middle column just after half-way down.
  3. In the 3rd section, Composing emails, ensure the mode is set to Compose messages as plain text.
  4. Click the Save button to save your changes (bottom left of page).

Last Updated: Site 2010-01-16 Page 2006-01-26

© Copyright Mark Easterbrook 2005-2006.