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Email plain text ASCII,
Not HTML, Not rich text

This page is:
by Julian H. Stacey


Mail plain text ASCII

(Avoiding HTML & MIME used to be mandatory for berklix lists, but is now just recomended)

Not HTML, Not rich text, when mailing:

Why ? - Is It Mandatory ?

YES ! - & You don't need to know Why !
Just Do It! You have no choice ! smiley face icon

HTML & rich text are Not allowed, Learn to send plain text.
Most people don't care Why anyway, they either:
  • Don't want to know Why,
  • Don't want to spend time to understand Why.
  • Can't understand why even if explained
  • Or they want to complain/ argue

If You Fail To Mail plain text ASCII

HTML Mail is Dumped &/or Rejected Automatically.

  • The Mail List Robot doesn't want HTML mail !
  • Technical associates & customers know to avoid sending HTML & use ASCII. There's no time to read hundreds of Html spams daily, 7 days a week, to rescue 1 or 2 inconsequential HTML mails from dozy social acquaintances, who haven't yet realised their HTML format is spammer's favourite format.
  • I don't have time to deal with Html mail, almost all of which is junk spam, none of which is business mail.
  • This Computer Consultant has no time to install, debug, adapt & acceptance test alternate mail robot software that could accept HTML but that was problematic on initial test.
  • Html list subscription software would lower the barrier, encouraging more incompetents & less thoughtful people & to join lists. Some lists don;t Need more clueless people. Clueless people require hand holding. I don't have time for that.
  • Html consumes more resources to successfully filter for spam.
  • Ascii was how the Internet started, it's quite sufficient for email, it is all this author & Majordomo willingly accept.
  • More reasons why Html Email is bad.

How To Mail Plain Text, NOT HTML

Which Operating System Do You Use ?

Microsoft Based (MS-Windows, 95/8/XP & other viral bases)

Which Mailer Software Do You Use ?

AOL (American On Line standard dialer + browser + mailer)

PS 2017-11 off topic tip: from mailman mail list: For AOL users to see full raw message incoming to them: open the message and select More -> View Message Source.

Link to another site Turning off HTML mails for various AOL versions.

Various people have without help joined lists that used to be run by Majordomo

(So either they just sent plain text, or possibly the robot did what the plain text told it to do, but also complained about any HTML duplicate junk.)

If you find it too difficult to set AOL to send Plain Text, try one of these:
  • Install another mailer (or browser that includes a mailer).
  • Ask AOL support how to send Ascii & then copy this author the solution for this page
  • Use a program such as open office & create & export a Plain Text file.
  • Use a net based program such as eg webmail.
  • If you are joining an AOL address to a list via Majordomo:
    • Assume AOL is sending both HTML & Ascii (it often is),
    • Ignore all errors Majordomo will spew back from the unwanted HTML & MIME enclosure separators.
    • Find the line in the response from Majordomo, where the ascii subscribe is seen by Majordomo@, & replied to, &
    • Return the confirmation key (needed to avoid hoax subscriptions), that Majordomo has sent you.
Here's some examples of mail header extracts, from people who've sent mail including plain Ascii sections:
  • X-mailer: Microsoft Office Outlook, Build 11.0.6353
    MIME-Version: 1.0
    Content-Type: text/plain; charset="US-ASCII"
    Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
    X-Mailer: Microsoft Office Outlook, Build 11.0.6353
    X-MimeOLE: Produced By Microsoft MimeOLE V6.00.2800.1478
  • X-Mailer: Atlas Mailer 2.0
    Content-Type: text/plain; charset=iso-8859-1
    Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit
  • X-Mailer: 9.0 SE for Windows sub 5014
    Content-Type: text/plain; charset="US-ASCII"
    Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit


Francis advised:
Message->New Message or <ctrl>N
Then just type and click the "Queue" button
I've never written a html Email, but if I reply to a message with html in it, after I press queue the following dialog pops up.
The body or signature of this message contains styled text (HTML). Some users of older e- mail clients may have trouble viewing this message.
Do you want to send plain text, styled text, or both ?
Don't ask me again (and make the default selection I choose)
Francis also points out
Eudora is better than others 'cos it allows MIME enclosure to be dumped in a seperate directory so your mail directory contains only mail, & not enclosures, so doesn't flood over time.


Jim & Christel, have done this successfully in May 2010, ask them at a Beer Gardeners event

Tips from Jim:

Click "Einstellungen" and then under "Darstellung", "E-Mail Format" "check "Text" instead of "HTML".

This does of course assume that the people are accessing freenet mail via webmail.

Gmx.DE & presumably

Re "I couldn't find any option to turn off" reports Erik S. 2004.06
@2013-10 There's also


Birgit has done this successfully in May 2010, ask her at a Beer Gardeners event

Tips from Birgit:

  • This is done by sending with the "nur-Text" function, avoiding to send as "rich text"
  • (Even if one may prefer to send "rich text" to other people)
  • The "Rich text- Nur-Text - HTML" button is on top same line as the fat letters "HOTMAIL".
  • There it says: "Senden - Entwurf speichern - Anhängen - Rechtschreibprüfung - Nur-text (or rich text or Html depends what one uses. I use rich text).
  • Problem: When you open hotmail you can`t see the button its invisible then or just not there. You have to actually start to write a new email. Then the button appears.


Paul has done this successfully in May 2010, ask him at a Beer Gardeners event
Tips from Paul

Click on Format at the top of the email.
Then in the pop-down click on "Nur-Text".
Then the black dot moves down to "Nur-Text"
from the default setting "Rich-Text (HTML)".
Then a warning window appears:-
Achtung: Die Formatierung dieser Nachricht wurde von HTML auf Nur-Text umgestellt.Wenn diese Nachricht gesendet wird, geht die aktuelle Formatierung verloren. Moechten Sie den Vorgang Forsetzen?
Click on OK.
Do this every time you send a plain text mail, because the system reverts back to the default setting HTML.

MS Explorer (a browser, overkill just for mail)

Mail this author what you know so it can be documented here.

MS Outlook

Tips from Melanie:
Use In this order:
  • Finish editing file,
  • Click Format,
  • Under Format choose Plain Text,
    (It warns if you use plain text you may lose ... [spurious HTML Glitz]).
  • Click OK,
  • Click Send.

MS Outlook Express

In the menu go
'Format' 'Plain Text'


  • Use some other mail domain, (free mail providers exist).
  • Do not use that domain to mail author or servers.
  • Mail from them is automaticaly discarded by us, as wasting time:
  • When recipient (human or subscription robot) receives mail from this domain & responds, bounces back to sender, (seen both on these domains & by an Abu Dhabi sender).
  • They send error messages of their addreses being unacceptable as Not an email address, but an "E-Postbrief Adresse, ein Service der Deutschen Post".
  • In an international world community, virtually no one knows or will care WTF an E-Postbrief might be, they don't explain, & provide no RFC.
  • They do solicit bounced recipient to sign up to be `serviced' by them.
  • They emit their noise just in German, with no English translation alongside, despite its easy to translate, unlike more responsible providers who provide an English equivalent of error messages, for the Internet that internationaly co-operates to develop, debug, operate & define standards in English.

Other Mailers, eg: AOL, Compuserve, Eudora, Hotmail Windows, etc

BIG List Of Other mailers.

If nothing listed there either, Mail me your tips, for inclusion here.

Packages on Multiple OSs eg Unix & Microsoft etc


Tips from Julian:
A fat browser is overkill just for mail, but do this:
Click on the mail address, then select:
Options -> Formats -> Plain Text Only
Also you may want to try:
Edit -> Preferences -> Send Format

Netscape (A browser, overkill just for mail)

Probably much the same as Mozilla, as Mozilla grew from Netscape. "It is easy in netscape to choose ASCII" reports Erik S. 2004.06

Netscape/ Mozilla/ Thunderbird

Daniel Liston dliston @@ 20 Aug 2009 To: Majordomo-Users @@
Control-U in Netscape/ Mozilla/ Thunderbird to see pieces of the message hidden by the client.

Firefox 3.6.17, tried 2011-07-25


Thunderbird 3.1.7, tried 2011-07-25

Edit -> Preferences -> (New Window) -> Composition -> (Section HTML - Configure text format behaviour - Send Options) -> (New Window) -> (Text Format) -> From "Send the message in both plain text and HTML" scroll down to "Convert the message to plain text"
Optionaly also click:
Plain Text Domains -> Type Add ->
This generates:
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; FreeBSD amd64; en-US; rv: Gecko/201103
19 Thunderbird/3.1.7
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1; format=flowed
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit

Unix (+ X-Windows etc):

Ascii is the default usually. Ascii is the default for EXMH on FreeBSD & for may other BSD & Linux etc mailers. FreeBSD supports a mammoth range of 3rd party mail clients & servers, many of which run on other Unixes & Linux too.

If Still Stuck

Get an additional mailbox (often free) on a better provider, then later dump your old mail provider, &/or or educate yourself on how to configure programs & suppliers you use.

Yes FreeBSD can display .Doc Files & Other Proprietary MS formats

Yes FreeBSD & my main machine can, & will, but I will not. It's too disgusting !

One way is to use EXMH, with the (mammoth) OpenOffice installed, plus mailcap rules as here, for lighter weight one can also use eg /usr/ports/textproc/antiword

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