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How to read or send emails in plain text in Outlook

Sometimes it's an advantage to send emails as plain text, rather than using formatted  text (sometimes called rich text) or HTML, even though these look more visually appealing.   This is because there is a wide variety of email applications in use around the world, and there is no guarantee that the recipients of your email will see your message exactly as you composed it, and some parts of it may even be invisible to them.   Composing emails as plain text uses only the most basic formatting and is less visually appealing,  but it is universal and is thus almost certain to be fully readable by all recipients.

The instructions below are based on Outlook 2013 or 2010 only.

To configure Outlook so as to compose emails in plain text:

  1. Open the File menu and click on Options in the left hand column.
  2. Click on Mail in the left hand column.
  3. In the Compose messages section, select Plain Text in the Compose messages in this format option.
  4. Click OK.

To configure Outlook so as to read messages as plain text:

  1. Open the File menu and click on Options in the left hand column.
  2. Click on Trust Center in the left hand column (at the bottom).
  3. Click on the Trust Center Settings... button.
  4. Click on E-mail Security in the left hand column.
  5. In the Read as Plain Text section, click to select Read all standard mail in plain text (you can also select the Read all digitally signed mail in plain text option if you want).
  6. Click OK.
  7. Click OK again to exit options.

Note that both these options will be remain in force until you choose to cancel them again by de-selecting the specified options.



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This is question number 2621, which appears in the following categories:

Created by Andy Clews on 8 January 2014 and last updated by Richard Byrom-Colburn on 21 October 2016