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Outlook: Change Default Message Format for Email

If you do not prefer HTML formatted emails, here is how to change the default email format in Outlook to plain text, rich text, or HTML format.


I do not use HTML formatting in email messages. One of the first things I do when installing Outlook is to change the default format to plain text. I just did this on Outlook 2007, so I thought I would share.

Set the Default Message Format in Outlook:

    1. Open Outlook.
    2. Click Tools menu.
    3. Click Options.
    4. Click Mail Format tab.
    5. In the drop-down box labeled Compose in this message format:, choose between HTML, plain text, or rich text.
    6. Click OK

The Conversation

Follow the reactions below and share your own thoughts.

  • chujoy

    Why exactly does it kill you?

  • David Chung

    @chujoy:

    Why do E-mail messages need to be embellished in HTML? What’s the point? All I want from an E-mail message is the message, which is why I personally prefer to send and receive in plain text. Nothing more.

  • imdb

    I like HTML because we send screen prints with instructions to our users. The way the email is set up, users have to click on the bar to enable HTML. Can’t tell you how many times we have to point this out to our users! Even the more experienced ones…

  • UpsideDownTire

    Yes, but can’t one define a default for a specific contact the overrides this application level default? Say I set Outlook to default to HTML. But Sally only ever will except Plain-Text email. How can I set it so whenever I send an email to Sally it’s always in Plain-Text?

  • Anonymous

    I have sort of the same issue.
    My problem is, that when I reply to a mail, Outlook (both 2003 and 2007) uses the same format as the received mail, regardless of my preferred setting.
    If anyone knows if and how this can be fixed, I’d be glad to hear from you, since I’ve spent hours Googling this to no avail.

  • Anonymous

    I seem to be receiving my e-mail in html, not nice. I want to receive it as sender wished.

  • Fahad ali

    Thanks for reply but I have all ready done these process.but there is no changing in my outlook

  • Guest

    HTML Tables

  • Josh Devlin

    This does not work!!! Open a reply and it defaults back to text!!!

    Every time I compose a reply I have to go into tools, mail format, and select HTML.

    • http://paellapans.com SJ

      > I went into Tools, Options, Mail Format. Then click on “Stationery and Fonts” and in there you can set the font you want to use for composing and replying to text messages. I just changed it from Consolas to a font that I prefer. However, this doesn’t seem to turn the plain text message into an HTML format, but at least the font is something I can live with.

  • raghvendra

    Change the message format for all messages you send
    Click the File tab.
    Click Options.
    Click Mail.
    Under Compose messages, in the Compose messages in this format list, click HTML, Rich Text, or Plain Text.

  • Taylor

    Thank you!!!!