Send and View Plain Email

Think pictures and custom fonts make your email look better? Think again. Email wants to be plain for several reasons. Text-only email lets the recipient display it clearly, especially on alternate platforms: Mac OS X, Linux, and mobile devices. And plain messages are less of a privacy and security threat; the recipient--and their spam filter--will be more likely to approve. Here's how to set Outlook to send only plain-text email and not download HTML graphics on incoming messages.

Choose Tools, Options, and pick Mail Format. Use the pop-up menu to pick Plain Text as the default. Click Apply, and close the window. In Tools, Trust Center , click Automatic Download. Verify that the first option is checked to prevent HTML picture downloads in email. These images are often used by spammers to see if they've hit a valid address; they can verify by seeing if you download the image. I also like to turn off automatic downloads even from approved people in the second and third checklist; I don't need commercial websites validating my address either.

And, here's a tip from a writer--ummm, me, if there was any question. Say what you need without relying on bold, italics, or colors to try to convey meaning. You'll look more professional. If you need to communicate with special formatting, send people to your website, or once in a while, attach a PDF document.

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